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A global investigation has revealed how the rich and powerful have hidden their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other assets over the past quarter century. Collectively, these assets are worth billions of dollars.
The investigation, dubbed the Pandora Papers, was published Sunday evening and involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries.
The report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists made promises of tax reform and demands for resignations and investigations, as well as explanations and denials from those targeted.
Here is a look at some of the people named in the survey.
Investigation found advisers helped Jordan’s King Abdullah II set up at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helping the monarch buy 14 homes worth over $ 106 million from the states. United and UK. property purchased in 2017 through a company in the British Virgin Islands, Caribbean tax haven.
On Monday, Abdullah denied any irregularities in his purchase of luxury homes abroad.
The allegations come as Abdullah calls for international help to lift his impoverished country out of recession and could disrupt Jordan’s critical relations with the international community. The country is seen as a stable, pro-Western bulwark in an unstable region – but it relies on billions in aid.
Tony Blair, British Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, became the owner of an $ 8.8million Victorian building in 2017 by purchasing a British Virgin Islands company that owned the property, and the building now houses the office of lawyers for his wife, Cherie Blair, according to the inquiry.
The two men bought the company from the family of Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani. Buying the company’s stock instead of the London building saved the Blairs more than $ 400,000 in property taxes, the investigation found.
The Blairs have denied any wrongdoing, with the couple’s spokesperson saying that “the Blairs pay full tax on all their income. And I have never used offshore schemes to hide transactions or avoid taxes. “
Members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle are accused of hiding millions of dollars in wealth in companies or secret trusts, reporters say.
Khan, who is not charged with any wrongdoing, has vowed to recover “ill-gotten gains” and said his government will examine all citizens mentioned in the documents and take action, if necessary.
In 2009, Andrej Babis, Czech Prime Minister, invested $ 22 million in shell companies to buy chateau property in a hilltop village of Mougins, France, near Cannes, the investigation revealed. The shell companies and the castle were not disclosed in Babis’ required asset declarations, according to documents obtained by the journalism group’s Czech partner, Investigace.cz.
A real estate group indirectly owned by Babis bought the Monegasque company that owns the castle in 2018, the investigation revealed.
Babis has denied any wrongdoing. He said the report was aimed at harming him ahead of the Czech Republic’s parliamentary elections on Friday and Saturday.
Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic and his son in 2012 allegedly established a trust and hid their wealth in a complex web of companies, according to the investigation.
Djukanovic’s office said he established a business trust with his son in 2012, while he was not in office. After becoming prime minister later that same year, Djukanovic transferred all rights to his son, the office said. While Djukanovic was one of the owners, there had been no business dealings, they said.
Djukanovic has been a key Western ally in efforts to bring the volatile Balkan region closer to Euro-Atlantic integration and away from Russia. After leading Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2006, Djukanovic led his country of 600,000 to NATO in 2017.
Montenegro is now seeking to become a member of the European Union.
On Monday, he faced calls for resignation.
The leaked documents revealed that Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, one of the richest men in the country, had used offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands for deals involving the Dominga mining project, which his family partly co-owned. with a friend.
Final payment for the sale of the mine in 2011 depended on the government’s refusal to declare its location in north-central Chile a protected nature reserve, according to the report. The government – then led by Piñera – did not do so, despite calls from environmentalists, nor did subsequent governments.
When investigators looked into the case a few years later, Piñera said he had not been involved in running the businesses and had not even realized the connection with Dominga.
A statement released by the president’s office on Sunday noted that prosecutors and courts ruled in 2017 that no crime had been committed and that Piñera had not been involved. He noted that his first term as chairman had not started when the sale was agreed in 2010. Piñera’s holdings are now managed in a blind trust, the statement said.
Lebanese billionaire Prime Minister Najib Mikati appeared in the Pandora Papers as the country plunged into a heartbreaking financial crisis.
Documents show Mikati, a businessman who formed a new government last month, owns a Panama-based offshore company that he used to buy property in Monaco in 2008 worth more than $ 10 million. of dollars.
Mikati’s son Maher was a director of at least two companies based in the British Virgin Islands, of which his father’s Monegasque company, M1 Group, had an office in central London, according to the report.
Mikati’s media advisor Fares Gemayel declined to comment. He referred to Maher Mikati’s response to the journalistic consortium, describing it as common practice for people living in Lebanon to use offshore companies “due to the ease of the incorporation process”. Maher Mikati has denied any intention of tax evasion.
The documents showed Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes had multi-million dollar investments in an offshore company called Dreadnoughts International in the British Virgin Islands.
In a statement sent through his press office, Paulo Guedes said he had provided all the necessary information to the Public Ethics Commission when he took office in the government in 2019.
“Its actions have always complied with applicable law and have been guided by ethics and responsibility,” the statement said, adding that Guedes “has disassociated itself from all its activities in the private market” since then.
Konstantin Ernst, image maker for Russian President Vladimir Putin and managing director of the country’s main television station, got a rebate to buy and develop Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding properties in Moscow after running the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, according to leaked documents. Ernst told the organization the deal was not secret and denied suggestions that he had been given special treatment.
The Kremlin saw nothing out of the ordinary in the Pandora Papers’ revelations about Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. Peskov described the results as “a rather unfounded set of statements” that raised the question of whether the information can be reliable.
“If there are any serious posts that are based on something, that cite something specific, we will look at them with interest. At this point, we see no reason to do so, ”Peskov said.
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