Pandora Papers: Secret wealth and dealings of world leaders exposed, as they deny the heist
The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents.
Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers.
They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of UK and US property.
They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office.
The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building.
The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, and shows the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – facing an election later this week – failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for £12m in the south of France.
It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past seven years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks.
A simple guide to the Pandora Papers leak
King of Jordan amassed £70m secret property empire
Blairs saved £312,000 stamp duty in property deal
Secret assets of Kenyan president’s family exposed
The examination of the files is the largest organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with more than 650 reporters taking part.
BBC Panorama in a joint investigation with the Guardian and the other media partners have had access to nearly 12 million documents and files from 14 financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.
Some figures are facing allegations of corruption, money laundering and global tax avoidance.
But one of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK.
The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore firms behind the purchases.
It highlights the UK government’s failure to introduce a register of offshore property owners despite repeated promises to do so, amid concerns some property buyers could be hiding money-laundering activities.
The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, who have been accused of looting their own country, are one example.
The investigation found the Aliyevs and their close associates have secretly been involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m.
Meanwhile several of the indicted world leaders have denied wrongdoing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein are among some 35 current and former leaders linked to the files.
Both have issued statements saying they have done nothing wrong.
Jordan’s royal palace said it was “not unusual nor improper” that King Abdullah owned property abroad.
Leaked documents show the leader secretly spent more than £70m ($100m) on a property empire in the UK and US since taking power in 1999.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov meanwhile questioned the reliability of the “unsubstantiated” information, after it detailed hidden wealth linked to President Putin and members of his inner circle.
“For now it is just not clear what this information is and what it is about,” he told reporters, adding that “we didn’t see any hidden wealth of Putin’s inner circle in there”.
Other leaders linked to the leak include:
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who allegedly failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for £12m in the south of France
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who – along with six members of his family – has been linked to 13 offshore companies
Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, a billionaire businessman, who is accused of selling a copper and iron mine in an environmentally sensitive area to a childhood friend, as detailed in Spain’s El Pais newspaper
And Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, whose family and close associates have allegedly been secretly involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m
In a tweet thread, the Czech prime minister said the allegations are an attempt to influence elections scheduled for this week and insisted he has “never done anything wrong or illegal”.
Mr Kenyatta said the investigation “will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe”, and promised to “respond comprehensively” to the leak once he returned from a state visit abroad.
The Pandora Papers show no evidence that the Kenyatta family stole or hid state assets in their offshore companies.
And a statement from Mr Piñera’s office said he denied taking part in or having any information on the sale of the Dominga mining project.
President Aliyev and his family did not respond to attempts to contact them, according to The Guardian.
Meanwhile Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to investigate citizens linked to the Pandora Papers. Hundreds of Pakistanis, including members of Mr Khan’s cabinet, are linked to the leak.