Hidden fortunes, tax evasion, and money laundering of the world’s richest have been revealed in nearly 12 million documents and files called the “Pandora Papers” leaked by an international consortium of journalists.
In one of the largest exposés ever, a leak of documents, images, files, and spreadsheets has revealed that some of the richest and most powerful people have hidden wealth, avoided taxes, and, in some cases, laundered money.
“The Pandora Papers” is a leak of 6.4 million documents, nearly 3 million images, over a million emails, and nearly half a million spreadsheets, the BBC reported.
the massive trove of private financial records shows that some of the most wealthy and powerful people in the world have used secretive offshore systems to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, and criminal investigators, the Washington Post reported.
According to the revelations, over 330 politicians from 90 countries used secret offshore companies to hide their wealth.
“[These people] are able to funnel and siphon money away and hide it,” said Lakshmi Kumar from US think-tank Global Financial Integrity, adding one way it is done is through the use of anonymous companies.
The wealthy individuals include 14 cases that involve current country leaders.
Among those identified includes King Abdullah II of Jordan, ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and six members of his family, Members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso, a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family.
Some of these owned property and/or trusts are based in the US.
The four wealthiest individuals in the US do not appear in the papers: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, according to the Post, which is owned by Bezos.
However, even respected US institutions have become entangled in some of these allegedly tainted transactions, as leaders of foreign governments, their relatives, and companies have moved their private fortunes into US-based trusts.
The revelations of the Pandora Papers raise the question of what wealthy people in the US might do if the Biden administration is able to pass legislation to impose heavy taxation on the rich and whether they will try similar taxation avoidance strategies.
According to the BBC: “The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and has led to one of the biggest ever global investigations. More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet.”