What’s Pandora Papers all about?

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What’s Pandora Papers all about?

 What’s Pandora Papers all about?
Image source: © Cammeraydave | Megapixl.com

The Pandora Papers – pegged as the world’s largest expose of hidden wealth – is a collection of almost 12 million leaked documents that reveal tax avoidance and, in some of the cases, money laundering. The names exposed in it include some of the world's most rich and powerful.

Over 600 journalists across 117 countries have been poring over these files from 14 sources for months. These stories would be published through the course of this week.

The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – a global network of 280 investigative journalists in more than 100 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.

What are Pandora Papers?

The investigation is based on a leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers – the providers of professional services to wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in a probable bid to avoid taxes. The entities enable owners to hide their identities from the public and sometimes from regulators. The probe is based on 2.94 terabytes of leaked data in various formats – documents, images, emails, spreadsheets, and more. This is the world’s largest expose in terms of amount of data, while second largest expose in terms of files.

How old is the data?

Some of the files date to the 1970s. However, most of those reviewed were created between 1996 and 2020, ICIJ said. “They cover a wide range of matters: the creation of shell companies, foundations and trusts; the use of such entities to purchase real estate, yachts, jets and life insurance; their use to make investments and to move money between bank accounts; estate planning and other inheritance issues; and the avoidance of taxes through complex financial schemes. Some documents are tied to financial crimes, including money laundering”.

So, who are the famous names on the list?

The investigation has revealed financial secrets of 35 current and ex world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials spread across 91 countries and territories, along with a global list of fugitives, con artists and murderers. The secret documents expose offshore dealings of the King of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The files also reveal financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial minister of propaganda” and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey and other nations.

Is there any Aussie connection in it?

Yes, there is. More than 400 Australians have been named in a financial leak that exposed the secret offshore wealth of the world's most powerful leaders and billionaires. Many of the Australians named in the papers are clients of Asiaciti - an international trust that has firms in Singapore, Cook Islands, Samoa, Nevis, Hong Kong, Panama, and New Zealand.  In the past, Asiaciti has drawn attention for some of its clients with chequered history -- including Moldovan politician Vladimir Plahotniuc - who is a fugitive; Myanmar's agriculture minister Nyunt Tin - who resigned over corruption; and Nigerian politician Abubakar Atiku Bagudu - who laundered public funds.

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