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The "Pandora Papers" Is Being Called The Biggest Leak Of Data And Secrets Of The World's Leaders And Most Rich And Powerful

The Guardian - The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history.

Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

They expose the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state. They also shine a light on the secret finances of more than 300 other public officials such as government ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries.

The files include disclosures about major donors to the Conservative party, raising difficult questions for Boris Johnson as his party meets for its annual conference.

More than 100 billionaires feature in the leaked data, as well as celebrities, rock stars and business leaders. Many use shell companies to hold luxury items such as property and yachts, as well as incognito bank accounts. There is even art ranging from looted Cambodian antiquities to paintings by Picasso and murals by Banksy.

The Pandora papers reveal the inner workings of what is a shadow financial world, providing a rare window into the hidden operations of a global offshore economy that enables some of the world’s richest people to hide their wealth and in some cases pay little or no tax.

Well, this is interesting.

For the entire read and breakdown, I strongly suggest reading the Guardian's full piece, as they are the publication that's publishing the report. (Here is their explanation for publishing it)

For another, pretty impartial breakdown of it I suggest this Al-Jazeera piece

My first question after reading this was where the hell did all this info come from? 

Was "Anonymous" behind it?

Nope. Turns out it was the ICIJ.

Who is the ICIJ?

It's a network of reporters and media organizations (definitely not the clowns on cable news in this country). They independently launched a two-year effort to sift through 11.9 million confidential files leaked to it (but not saying by whom), aided in that effort by more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets around the world.

This group then cross reference all the data with public records from all around the world. Almost 3 Terabytes worth.

In their findings, they report more than 330 public officials and politicians, 35 former and current world leaders, from 91 countries are all named.

Before we get to some of the names named, it's important to note, as the ICIJ did repeatedly, that setting up offshore companies to do business is not in itself illegal. 

Where it gets shady is when they are used to facilitate tax evasion and money laundering.

It's even more infuriating when a lot of these leaders build their platforms on transparency, and campaign against tax avoidance and corruption.

NOTABLE NAMES

TOBIAS SCHWARZ. Getty Images.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II

This guy was alleged to have used offshore accounts to spend more than $100m on luxury homes in the UK and US.

"So what? Since when is buying things illegal?" Right?

Well this piece of shit purchased 14 homes worth more than $106 million in the United Kingdom and United States through front companies registered in tax havens, according to the Pandora Papers. The properties include apartments and condos in some of the worlds highest real estate markets in Malibu, London, and Washington, D.C.

Companies affiliated with Abdullah spent nearly $70 million on luxury homes in Southern California between 2014 and 2017 and dodged taxes on the purchases.

Accountants and lawyers in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands formed shell companies on the king's behalf and made plans to shield his name from public view, according to the ICIJ.

Jordan is one of the poorest Arab countries and relies heavily on international aid. Most of the deals took place after the Arab Spring in 2011, the ICIJ reported.

This guy has been crying poor to his own citizens and the rest of the world. Letting donors (like the United States) in the West pour hundreds of millions into his country in aid. Where does it go? To lavish real estate and who knows where else.

ARIS OIKONOMOU. Getty Images.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis

Days ahead of the Czech Republic’s October 8-9 parliamentary election, the Pandora Papers tied prime minister Babis to a secret $22m estate in a hilltop village near Cannes, France. On the French Riviera. Some of the priciest real estate on planet Earth.

The ICIJ report claims the populist prime minister of the Czech Republic secretly moved $22 million through offshore companies to purchase the estate.

A businessman who is worth about $3.4 billion according to Bloomberg, Babis has railed against the elite since he became prime minister in 2017, vowing to crack down on tax avoidance. A hypocrite of the highest order.

And in perfect politician fashion, what did Babis do when this report was dropped 2 days before the election?

Cried victim of course.

The ICIJ report was released just days before parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic. Babis responded Sunday on Twitter.

"So, it is here. I was waiting what will they what pull out right before elections, to harm me and to influence Czech elections. There is no case that they can pull against me during the time I am in politics," he said.

"I have never done anything unlawful or bad, but it does not stop them to try to slander me again and to try to influence Czech parliamentary elections," added Babis.

Dan Kitwood. Getty Images.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

According to the Pandora Papers, Tony and his wife, Cherie Blair, avoided paying £312,000 ($423,000) in taxes on property purchases. 

The Blairs purchased the townhouse in 2017 by buying the offshore firm that owned the property. When the property was put up for sale, its ultimate owners were a family with political connections in Bahrain, according to the BBC

This one is more tricky, nonetheless shady, but tricky because the Blairs set up a UK company to purchase the offshore firm. Doing so was completely legal, but it allowed them to avoid paying taxes, according to the BBC, because the tax is not charged when a company owning a property is acquired. A gigantic gaping loophole that you'd think the lawmakers with the ability to do so would close don't ya think?

In classic Tony Blair fashion, he let his wife take the shrapnel for him. (A page out of Roger Clemens and Peyton Manning's playbooks). Cherie addressed the allegations-

"It is not unusual for a commercial office building to be held in a corporate vehicle or for vendors of such property not to want to dispose of the property separately," Cherie Blair told the BBC.

WPA Pool. Getty Images.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

This guy might take the cake.

According to the ICIJ, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's family has been amassing a fucking fortune in offshore tax havens for decades now. The Pandora Papers reveal his family owned a minimum of seven entities based in the British Virgin Islands and Panama. 

The offshore businesses have assets worth more than $30 million, the ICIJ reported. Kenyatta, who has vowed to fight corruption in his country, is the son of Kenya's first president after its independence.

The report shows that Kenyatta and his mother are beneficiaries of a secretive foundation in Panama.

The leaked documents also showed that three of Kenyatta’s siblings own five offshore companies with assets worth more than $30m.

Kenyatta threw a curveball to the media questioning him being named in the report by saying he thinks its a positive.

"These reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe. The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and corruption thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness," he said, according to a spokesperson.

"The Pandora Papers and subsequent follow up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who can not explain their assets or wealth," he added.

Giphy Images.

Shakira

Nothing really bombshell here regarding Shakira. Her name was listed and I just wanted to break up the pics of momo's with her. 

The Pandora Papers report Shakira placed assets in offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands.

An attorney for Shakira has stated that the Colombian singer had declared her companies, which do not provide tax advantages, according to ICIJ.

But this is just a part of Shakira's financial issues. The sultry songstress has been accused of avoiding paying €14.5 million (around $16.4 million) in taxes. She has been accused by prosecutors of failing to pay taxes between 2012 and 2014, despite having her tax residence in Spain.

Images Press. Getty Images.

Claudia Schiffer 

The supermodel is alleged to have set up PO Box companies in known tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama or the Bahamas, a setup often used to hide money from tax authorities.

Representatives for Schiffer also claim the fashion star pays her taxes in the U.K., where she is based.

Tristan Fewings. Getty Images.

Ringo Starr

Really digging deep here. But essentially same thing for Ringo as Claudia. Offshore company PO Boxes set up in tax havens. He has yet to respond.

Jose Breton. Shutterstock Images.

Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti

Managing Madrid - El Pais reports that Ancelotti is one individual who has allegedly used one of the linked companies to tax problems. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola allegedly held an account in Andorra while managing Barcelona. Former Madrid and current PSG player Angel Di Maria has been named as well.

Ancelotti was first indicted by a Spanish federal prosecutor on suspicion of avoiding around €1 million in taxes while managing Everton last year. These allegations were regarding the 2014-15 tax revenue from image rights during his first stint managing Real Madrid.

Anadolu Agency. Getty Images.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

The first "Panama Papers" in 2016 brought an end to former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's term. Former cricket star Imran Khan staged protests against Sharif and was elected prime minister in 2018 on a platform of equity and anti-corruption.

These new Pandora Papers reveal no offshore accounts from Khan, but they do include people in his inner circle, from one of his ministers to a top donor who has funded his party, according to the ICIJ.

Khan responded to the investigation on Twitter Sunday.

Giphy Images.

Elton John

Same deal as Shakira and Claudia Schiffer. Offshore accounts in tax havens with no wrongdoing exposed yet. There's still thousands and thousands of files and tons of data to sift through so this list will continue to grow.

Dennis Grombkowski. Getty Images.

Vladimir Putin

You didn't think a mastermind like Vlad would let his good clean name get caught up in a mess like this did you?

Putin ain't no fool. 

Like a better-looking Rick Pitino, Putin thrives in surrounding himself with plenty of fall guys.

.. the report details several close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in allegedly hiding mass amounts of wealth in offshore firms. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said that Russian nationals are “disproportionately represented” in the Pandora Papers, with 14% of the more than 27,000 named companies having Russian beneficiaries and 46 Russian oligarchs found to use offshore companies.

He also loves putting assets in his mistress' name, Svetlana Krivonogikh.

In the space of a few years, around the turn of the millennium, Krivonogikh became extremely wealthy. She acquired a flat in a prestigious compound in her home city of St Petersburg, properties in Moscow, a yacht, and other assets, worth an estimated $100m.

Imagine giving some side piece 100 million in houses, boats, and cash? This chick must have magical powers in the bedroom, performing shit the rest of the world's never even heard of, or something.

For the full report of Putin's cronies all named in this report check out this report from The Moscow Times. It lists powerful media heads, political allies, mobsters, and Russian celebrities. All near and dear friends of Vlad's.

Not a giant surprise here to anybody with a functioning brain, but disappointing regardless.

Gerard Ryle, the director of the ICIJ, said leading politicians who organised their finances in tax havens had a stake in the status quo, and were likely to be an obstacle to reform of the offshore economy. “When you have world leaders, when you have politicians, when you have public officials, all using the secrecy and all using this world, then I don’t think we’re going to see an end to it.”

He expected the Pandora papers to have a greater impact than previous leaks, not least because they were arriving in the middle of a pandemic that had exacerbated inequalities and forced governments to borrow unprecedented amounts to be shouldered by ordinary taxpayers. “This is the Panama papers on steroids,” Ryle said. “It’s broader, richer and has more detail.”

At least $11.3tn in wealth is held offshore, according to a 2020 study by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “This is money that is being lost to treasuries around the world and money that could be used to recover from Covid,” Ryle said. “We’re losing out because some people are gaining. It’s as simple as that. It’s a very simple transaction that’s going on here.”

Now cue the weirdos who are in the bottom tax brackets yet pay more than these people, that go to war defending these scumbag tax cheats and white-collar criminals. Fire away.