October 28, 2021

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Pandora documents: Government leaders question tax evasion

Several leaders, including the Czech prime minister, the king of Jordan or the presidents of Kenya and Ecuador, have hidden assets in foreign companies, especially for tax evasion purposes, the International Federation of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) said in an investigation on Sunday.

The investigation, dubbed the “Pandora Papers” in which about 600 journalists participated, relied on about 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services firms and found more than 29,000 foreign firms.

According to these documents, King Abdullah II of Jordan established at least thirty maritime companies, i.e. in countries or territories with favorable taxation.

King Abdullah II of Jordan.

AFP

King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Through these companies, he bought 14 luxury properties in the US and UK for over $ 106 million.

According to Czech Prime Minister Andrzej Bobiz, he put $ 22 million in the front companies, which were used to buy Fortress of Picot, a large property located in Maggins in the south of France.

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso has funded two US-headquartered trusts in South Dakota.

In total, ICIG has established links between maritime assets and 336 key leaders and politicians, who have formed nearly 1,000 companies, two-thirds of which are based in the British Virgin Islands.

Also on display are Colombian singer Shakira, German model Claudia Schiffer and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Dominic Strauss-Kahn and Morocco

There are also the names of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former French Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn who bought real estate in London through a company abroad.

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The former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) paid millions of dollars in consulting fees to companies through a tax-exempt Moroccan company, according to documents reviewed by ICIJ.

In most countries, these facts cannot be investigated. But in the case of leaders, the ICIJ treats some of them as anti-corruption discourse in parallel with investing in tax paradise.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his commitment to the fight against corruption in his country and said Kenyan officials need to be open about their heritage.

However, according to the “Pandora Papers” section dedicated to him, the Kenyan president owns a trust in Panama and many members of his direct family have over $ 30 million in foreign accounts.

Founded in 1997 by the Center for American Public Works, ICIJ became an independent entity in 2017.

Its network includes investigative journalists and more than 100 media partners in more than 100 countries and territories.

ICIJ became known in early April 2016 through the publication of an investigative “Panama Papers” based on 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm.

They described the hidden assets of thousands of Mosaic Fonseka clients, including key figures.

The shock wave caused by the release, in particular, led to the resignations of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Kunlaxon and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The lawsuit was probably funded by director Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the film “The Landromate: The Panama Papers Affair” for the Netflix site.

In November 2017, ICIJ released “Paradise Papers”, which is based on a new series of documents, most of which came from ApplePay, another company that specializes in financial arrangements.

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The survey highlighted Prince Charles, Formula 1 champion Louis Hamilton or the Nike team, among the main names of maneuvers to hide assets and avoid taxation.