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The hidden wealth of hundreds of rich and powerful people around the world has been exposed in one of the world’s largest financial information leaks.
The financial transactions of dozens of world leaders, from Jordan’s King Abdullah to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are detailed in the leak, which shows how the world’s richest people use offshore tax havens to store and move their money.
The documents, which were filtered to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with a handful of news organizations, not including the Financial Times, have been dubbed the “Pandora Papers.” They come from 14 offshore organizations and contain more data than the Panama Papers, which were leaked in 2016 from the Mossack Fonseca law firm.
According to news organizations, newspapers show how King Abdullah II secretly bought properties worth more than $ 100 million in London, Washington and Malibu, California.
The king supposedly used a network of overseas accounts to buy three adjacent properties in Malibu for nearly $ 70 million between 2014 and 2017. The middle one, according to the newspaper, contains seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a gym, a movie theater and a pool.
The United States provided more than $ 1.5 billion in aid to Jordan in 2020, although the king’s lawyers told reporters he had not wasted the aid or public money.
Tony and Cherie Blair, meanwhile, took over a £ 6.5 million office in Marylebone in 2017 by purchasing a British Virgin Islands company owned by Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani, a minister from Bahrain. The transaction saved them some £ 312,000 in property taxes.
Cherie blair told the guardian There was “nothing unusual or covert about all this,” adding that he did not know the identity of the sellers before buying the property.
According to the documents, a Russian woman who was reportedly in a relationship with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, became the owner of a luxury apartment in Monte Carlo in 2003, just weeks after giving birth. The apartment, which cost € 3.6 million and included two parking spaces and the use of a swimming pool, was purchased through a company in the British Virgin Islands.
Neither the Kremlin nor the woman, Svetlana Krivonogikh, responded to requests for comment from news organizations.
Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s strongman for 13 years, is also featured in the documents, which detail how a network of offshore companies linked to his family and associates has traded property worth £ 400 million in the UK. The family bought 17 properties, including a £ 33 million office block in London for the president’s 11-year-old son.
The Aliyev family did not respond to requests for comment from news organizations.
Others who have been shown to own offshore companies include Andrej Babis, the Czech prime minister who is facing re-election this week. The ICIJ said Babis spent $ 22 million through shell companies on a sprawling property known as Chateau Bigaud in southern France.
Babis declined to answer questions about the purchase. when faced about it by a BBC reporter.
According to the ICIJ, more than 330 politicians and senior officials were named in the documents, including 35 country leaders.
The data comes from 14 offshore service providers based in Panama, the Seychelles, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, Cyprus, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
The documents also include information on trusts in several US states, including South Dakota, Florida and Delaware, which have become increasingly popular places for billionaires looking to park their estate in recent years.
South Dakota allows people to not only avoid taxes by putting money in trusts, but also to remain hidden from almost anyone, including the eventual beneficiary. South Dakota trust funds had assets of more than $ 367 billion at the end of last year, according to State Department of Labor and Regulation.