October 23, 2021

Financial secrets of the rich and famous exposed in what is the biggest data leak in history

The financial secrets of the rich and famous have been exposed in what is believed to be the biggest data leak of it’s kind in history.

The so-called Pandora Papers includes almost 12 million documents revealing alleged tax avoidance, hidden wealth and money laundering by some of the world’s richest and most powerful.

It reveals details of 30 world leaders’ stashed away fortunes – including the King of Jordan’s secret £70m property empire and secret assets held by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Monaco.

Some of the Tories’ biggest donors are said to feature in the disclosures, released jointly by the BBC and the Guardian on Sunday.

Financial secrets of the rich and famous exposed in what is the biggest data leak in history

If so then Boris Johnson will face awkward questions just as the Conservative Party conference gets underway.

A 600-strong team of reporters organised by the International Consortium of Investigated Journalists (ICIJ) is said to have sifted through the huge data dump over a period of months.

What are the Pandora papers?

The cache of almost 12 million files – dubbed the Pandora papers – is said to cover the activities of some 35 current or former world leaders, more than 300 public officials and 100 billionaires.

According to the BBC, among the disclosures in the papers are details of the way prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK.

It is the latest in a string of leaks in recent years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks.

However, Pandora is the largest organised by the ICIJ, with more than 650 reporters taking part.

Investigators 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.

Who’s accused?

In total, 35 current and former leaders and at least 300 public officials are mentioned in the files from offshore companies in the data leak.

These included how the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of luxury properties and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s links to assets in Monaco.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is also shown to have failed to declare an offshore investment company used to buy a pair of villas for £12m in France.

The investigation could also prove an embarrassment to the British government with Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family appearing to have made a £31m profit from flogging London properties to the Crown Estate.

Meanwhile, the papers say Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and six family members secretly owned a network of offshore firms, and members of Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s inner circle secretly own companies and trusts holding millions.

And a law firm founded by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades appears to have tried to mislead regulators in relation to a series of offshore firms.

Financial secrets of the rich and famous exposed in what is the biggest data leak in history

Vladimir Putin’s secret assets

The leak links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, including an exclusive block underneath the Monte Carlo Casino, bought in 2003 for £3.1m, for his alleged lover, reports the Guardian.

The official purchaser was listed as Brockville Development Ltd, an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, but the papers reveal the benefactor was Svetlana Krivonogikh.

The then-28-year-old came from humble beginnings but appears to have acquired Putin as a financial benefactor in the 1990s.

She is said to have met him while he was St Petersburg’s deputy mayor and become his lover, allegedly giving birth to his daughter the same year the Monaco apartment was bought.

But according to the Pandora papers, some of Putin’s inner circle also used Monaco as a discreet hub for their financial affairs, with Russian influence in the state growing.

King of Jordan’s mansions

The leaked data shows the King of Jordan secretly amassed a property empire in the UK and US worth more than £70m.

A network of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens were used by Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to buy 15 homes since he came to power in 1999, reports the BBC.

These include luxury properties in Malibu and Washington DC, as well as eight properties in London and south-east England.

And it all comes with the 59-year-old accused of imposing austerity measures and tax rises on his people.

His legal team said the properties were all purchased via his personal wealth, adding it was common for such high profile people to buy homes in this way to ensure they retain privacy.

“That could be incredibly damaging for his father and Camilla. Charles is going to be king and Camilla his queen. The last thing they or the country needs is another upsurge of anger based on what I believe to be false, false accusations.”

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