Pandora Papers: What is the biggest leak of financial secrets of politicians and billionaires around the world about?
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published yesterday what they have described as their «most comprehensive exposition of financial secrets»: the «Pandora Papers.»
It is an extensive journalistic work that received the Spanish name of Los Papeles de Pandora (Pandora Papers) and is the result of the analysis of more than 11.9 million leaked documents that «cover every corner of the world».
More than 600 reporters from 117 countries and 150 media took part in the investigation, which is classified as the largest collaboration in the history of the ICIJ, according to a report by RT.
The ‘Pandora’ box and ‘offshore’ businesses on the planet
One of the main conclusions of the journalistic work is that «the machinery of ‘offshore’ money operates in every corner of the planet, including the largest democracies in the world». «Among the main players in the system are elite institutions – multinational banks, law firms and accounting firms – based in the United States and Europe», indicates the ICIJ.
According to one of the Pandora Papers documents, banks around the world helped their clients create at least 3,926 companies in tax havens with the help of a Panamanian law firm, called Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, directed by a former US ambassador.»The firm, also known as Alcogal, created at least 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands for clients of the US financial services giant Morgan Stanley», noted the reporters.
The leaked files expose the financial secrets and ‘offshore’ procedures of 35 world leaders (active and retired), more than 100 billionaires and more than 300 high-ranking public officials, such as ministers, judges, mayors and military leaders from more than 90 countries.
Among multiple cases, it was revealed that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, saved more than $ 400,000 during the purchase of a house valued at $ 8.8 million through an ‘offshore’ company, although it was a legal process. Another revelation is that the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, who is waiting to be re-elected this week, moved 22 million dollars to the ‘offshore’ companies so as to acquire a property in France in an undetected way.
The purchase of 14 luxury homes in the US and the UK worth more than $ 106 million by King Abdullah II of Jordan through offshore shell companies, and the possession of luxurious London apartments by the Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s children, as well as millions of undeclared dollars in the hands of those in his inner circle also came to light, as did the fact that the Kenyan President’s family Uhuru Kenyatta has secretly accumulated assets worth more than $ 30 million for years, hidden from public scrutiny.
To get an idea of the magnitude of the revelations, some of the protagonists that appear in the results of the journalistic investigation are:
– President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso
– President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader- Children of the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera
– Former presidents of Colombia, César Gaviria and Andrés Pastrana
– Former president of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo
– Former presidents of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani and Francisco Flores
– Former president of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes
– Former President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
– Former presidents of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, Ricardo Martinelli and Ernesto Pérez Balladares
– Minister of Economy of Brazil, Paulo Guedes
– Former Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe
– President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic
– President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky
– President of Gabon, Ali Bongo- President of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso
– Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati
– Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum
– Prime Minister of Ivory Coast, Patrick Achi
– Princess of Morocco, Lalla Hasna
Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear by name in the leaked files, which nevertheless reveal alleged «hidden riches of the president’s inner circle», including his best childhood friend, the late Pyotr Kolbin, according to The Guardian.
In turn, the Kremlin said on Monday that they did not see «any hidden wealth of Putin’s inner circle» in the ICIJ leak. «The only thing that really catches the public eye is the demonstration of which State is the world’s largest off-shore and tax loophole, which is, of course, the US», declared presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
«Lack of an international agreement»
For his part, the international analyst Sergio Castaño Riaño, believes that the US financial system lacks regulation to effectively fight against money laundering. According to the expert, the situation is complicated by Washington’s lack of interest in an international agreement to combat this crime.
«What there isn’t, is an international agreement that allows action against money laundering. This leads to each country having its own legislation» in this regard, says Castaño. «There is no international regulation and therefore, we find very attractive countries for money to travel in this globalized world, and the great millionaires of nations with higher tax rates seek that ‘refuge’ where they will be charged much less taxes», he concluded.
In 2016, the ICIJ already shocked the world with the Panama Papers, and this time the Panamanian government has apparently taken precautions to mitigate the potential damage that the new revelations could bring. Through the law firm Benesch, Fridlander, Coplan & Aronoff Llp, the authorities of the Central American country tried to dialogue with the journalistic consortium, reported La Estrella de Panamá.
«Before continuing, you should bear in mind that the previous media coverage initiated by the ICIJ used a false and defamatory term (that is, the ‘Panama Papers’) that caused great damage to Panama», wrote the representatives of the firm in their letter of September 16, quoted by the newspaper. «The Government of Panama is determined to act, so that this falsehood is not repeated by the ICIJ or any other media», they added.