Leaked files reveal key revelations about a financial alternative where super-rich can hide assets and pay very little tax
What are the Pandora papers?
The Pandora papers contain 11.9 million files that were leaked from companies that specialize in offshore trusts and companies. These are the latest data leaks to expose an alternative financial system where super-rich can hide assets and pay very little tax. This follows the Paradise papers of 2017 and the Panama papers of 2016.
What does it show?
These files show how wealthy people can hide their income and assets from scrutiny and taxation by hiding them offshore in jurisdictions more commonly known as “tax Havens”.
The papers do not allege that every person named in the Pandora papers committed wrongdoing. The rich can hide their assets by using trusts or companies incorporated in tax havens like Panama, Switzerland or the British Virgin Islands. This allows them to avoid tax.
These are the revelations thus far
Abdullah al-Hussein is the King of Jordan and has amassed a $100m global real estate empire through offshore companies. Although his lawyers claim that there is nothing wrong with him keeping his property portfolio offshore, the revelation will be highly sensitive in Jordan where activists were previously arrested for asking about the land ownership of the King.
After the documents revealed that the Queen’s crown estate paid PS67m for Ilham Aliyev (the president of Azerbaijan), in order to purchase a portion of their London property portfolio, an internal review was initiated by the Queen’s Crown Estate. For two decades, Azerbaijan has been ruled by the Aliyev family, which is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Aliyev and his relatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, and Cherie appear to have saved approximately PS300,000. in stamp duty by purchasing a property from an offshore company. Although there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either the Blairs nor the sellers, the arrangement shows how common it has become to use tax-avoiding offshore corporations for high-value property transactions.
Boris Johnson’s campaign leader Mohamed Amersi was a Conservative party donor. It is now known that he advised on the structure for a deal later revealed to be a PS162m bribe to the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president. Amersi’s lawyers denied that he had “knowingly” made corrupt payments and that the underlying arrangements were in place prior to his involvement.
Russian-born oil tycoon Viktor Fedotov was secretly a co-owner of a company that was once accused of being involved in a massive corruption scheme. Fedotov denied wrongdoing, but claimed he is too ill to comment.
These papers reveal the incredible hidden wealth of Vladimir Putin’s circle. A former lover and his childhood friend are two of the people who were revealed to have amassed incredible wealth through offshore companies.
An offshore service provider reported that a law firm established by Nicos Anastasiades (the president of Cyprus) was reporting it to financial regulators. They believed it had given them false names in order to conceal the assets of a controversial Russian Oligarch. While the president claims he has not had any contact with the firm in years, the firm strongly denies any misconduct.
Andrej Babis (the Czech prime minister) is up for reelection this week. It was revealed that he had purchased a chateau south of France through the routing of money through a number of offshore companies. He denied any wrongdoing.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the Ukrainian president. He was revealed to have transferred shares in an offshore business to a friend only weeks before his election. His spokesperson refused to comment when asked.
The files show that Moonis Elahi (the Pakistani minister of water resources) pulled out from making investments in offshore tax havens following being warned by his country’s tax authority. A spokesperson denied any wrongdoing, and stated that all required declarations were made.
Uhuru Kenyatta (the president of Kenya) and his family have been named as having $30 million in offshore assets, which includes London property. Kenyatta previously demanded that all politicians make their assets public. He didn’t respond to our requests for comment.
Lubov Chernukhin’s wealth, which has given PS2.1m to Tories since 2012 seems to have come partly from the corporate structures her husband, Vladimir. A former Russian state banker and finance minister under Vladimir Putin, Vladimir is also a corporate entrepreneur. These files reveal that the couple relies on an extensive offshore network of companies for their income. Lubov Chernukhin and his lawyers denied that Lubov Chernukhin had improperly funded or been influenced by any other person.
The papers reveal that at least PS4bn worth of UK property is owned by heads of government, oligarchs and business tycoons. Many properties are located in some of London’s most exclusive postcodes, including Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington.
According to documents, Unaoil’s profits, a Monaco-based company that was behind the “world’s largest bribe scandal”, were invested in UK property worth PS200m.
Ben Elliot, Conservative party chair, and a secret company to finance offshore films indirectly benefited more than PS120,000 in UK tax credits.
Douglas Latchford was a prolific trader in looted Cambodian cultural patrimony. He used offshore trusts to transfer the ownership of sacred Khmer antiquities, and avoid UK inheritance taxes on the proceeds.
Farrer and Co, the Queen’s lawyers, represented Abubakar Bagudu. The US Department of Justice has since accused him of an “instrumental” role in a corruption scheme that saw billions of dollars stolen from Nigeria.
According to documents, Jonathan Aitken was once a Conservative minister who was imprisoned for perjury. He received PS166,000 to create a hagiography about Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nagayev.