Called the “Pandora Papers“, the latest set of leaked documents shed light on the financial secrecy of the world’s richest and are said to be the most voluminous ever.
According to the Guardian, the trove includes nearly 12 million files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
Here’s what you need to know about the Pandora Papers…
* The papers, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reveal that over 100 billionaires as well as celebrities from countries like Russia, US, India, Pakistan, UK and Mexico used shell firms and incognito bank accounts to purchase secret assets and conduct secret financial dealings.
* The Pandora Papers expose 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 report said the leaked documents have exposed over 300 Indians, which includes those accused in economic offences, former members of Parliament and those under the radar of investigation agencies.
* According to the Indian Express, which was part of the consortium, businessman Anil Ambani has 18 asset holding offshore companies despite declaring bankruptcy in a UK court.
* It also reported that the husband of Biocon promoter Kiran Mazumder Shaw had set up a trust with keys to a person who was banned by Sebi for insider trading. Moreover, the sister of fugitive Nirav Modi had set up a trust just a month before the diamantaire fled the country.
* The report said that several individuals who owned offshore entities opted for a reorganisation of their foreign assets after the massive Panama papers leak in 2016. The Indian Express report mentions that cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was among individuals who asked for the liquidation of his offshore entity after the Panama leak.
* According to Guardian, the papers reveal that King of Jordan, Abdullah II, secretly amassed $100 million worth of property in the US and UK, including plush ocean view mansions in Malibu.
* The Dawn reported that several members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars. These include finance minister Shaukat Tarin, his family, and the son of Prime Minister Imran’s former adviser for finance and revenue, Waqar Masood Khan.
* The documents also reveal that PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi who is a close political ally of Imran’s, planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust.
* The papers further reveal that former UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office. The Guardian reported that while the move was not illegal or directly implicates the Blairs, the deal does highlight a loophole which enabled wealthy property owners to skirt taxes.
* The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco. While the documents do not have a direct mention of Putin, many of his close associates, such as a childhood friend and a former flame, feature in the papers.