Pandora Papers: Largest ever data leak on corruption & illicit assets

From Tax Advisers Europe: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published details of an investigation carried out by over 600 journalists into the largest known data leak on the use of offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers.

The leak comprises over 11 million files on the operations of 14 particular offshore service firms who facilitate the use of offshore companies. Individuals identified in the leak are accused of using offshore vehicles for concealing illicit assets. In the leak, over 900 companies in offshore havens have been linked to high-profile individuals and public officials, including country leaders, ministers, ambassadors and the like. Notably, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is identified as having purchased an offshore company which owned a London building valued at 6.5 million pounds, thereby avoiding paying hundreds of thousands in stamp duty. President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus is also tied to the leak, through a law firm he founded, which is accused of hiding assets of Russian billionaires. The current Czech Prime Minster is also identified as using an offshore company to purchase a USD $22 million dollar chateau in the south of France. The BBC, a partner in the investigations, reported on a number of other well-known wealthy individuals identified in the leak as follows:

  • the prominent Tory donor who was involved in one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals
  • the King of Jordan’s £70m spending spree on properties in the UK and US through secretly-owned companies
  • Azerbaijan’s leading family’s hidden involvement in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m
  • how the family of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s secretly owned a network of offshore companies for decades

More detail from the investigations is expected to be made public throughout the week. Information on the leaks can be found on the ICIJ website, the BBC website and The Guardian website.

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