Leaked records show world leaders and moguls hiding billions in real estate investments – Boston News, Weather, Sports

According to a review of nearly 12 million files received, hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have hidden their investments in villas, exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other assets from 14 companies worldwide over the past quarter of a century.

The report, published on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It’s known as the “Pandora Papers” because the results shed light on the previously hidden dealings of the elite and corrupt, and how they used offshore accounts to protect trillions of dollars in assets.

The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include the Jordanian King Abdullah II, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and former employees of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The billionaires named in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak and Robert T. Brockman, the former CEO of software company Reynolds & Reynolds.

Many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and hide assets for other shady reasons, according to the report.

“The new data leak has to be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, Member of the Green Party in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We now have to expand and sharpen the countermeasures. “

Oxfam International, a UK consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for unveiling outrageous examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to fund programs and projects for the common good.

“Here are our missing hospitals,” Oxfam said in a statement. “This is where the salary packages for all the additional teachers, firefighters and civil servants we need sit. Whenever a politician or business leader claims that there is “no money” to pay for climate damage and innovations, more and better jobs, a fair recovery after COVID-19 or more foreign aid, they know where to look. “

The Pandora Papers are a continuation of a similar project published in 2016 called the Panama Papers and compiled by the same journalistic group.

The latest bomb is even bigger and ported by nearly 3 terabytes of data – the equivalent of roughly 750,000 photos on a smartphone – leaked from 14 different service providers operating in 38 different countries around the world. The records go back to the 1970s, but most of the files go from 1996 to 2020.

In contrast, the Panama Papers collected 2.6 terabytes of data leaked from a now-defunct law firm called Mossack Fonseca, based in the country that inspired the project’s nickname.

The latest investigation looked at accounts registered in well-known offshore ports, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. However, some of the secret accounts were also scattered across trusts established in the United States, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.

Some of the first results released on Sunday painted a dirty picture of the celebrities involved.

For example, the investigation found that advisors to King Abdullah II of Jordan helped set up at least three dozen letterbox companies from 1995 to 2017 and helped the monarch buy 14 homes worth more than $ 106 million in the US and the UK – Check out the property purchased by a British Virgin Islands company in 2017. The consultants have been identified as English accountants in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.

There was no immediate comment from Jordan’s Royal Palace.

The details are an embarrassing blow to Abdullah, whose government was embroiled in a scandal this year when his half-brother, the former Crown Prince Hamzah, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence. The king alleged that he was the victim of a “malicious conspiracy,” placed his half-brother under house arrest and brought two former close associates on trial.

Abdullah took power in 1999 after the death of his father, King Hussein.

British lawyers for Abdullah said he was not required to pay taxes under his country’s law and did not abuse public funds. The lawyers also said that most of the businesses and properties are not affiliated with the king or no longer exist, despite refusing to provide details.

Blair, UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, owned a $ 8.8 million Victorian building in 2017 by purchasing a British Virgin Islands company that held the property, and the building now houses his wife’s law firm Cherie Blair doing the investigation. The two bought the company from the family of the Bahraini Minister of Industry and Tourism, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani. Buying the company’s shares in place of the building saved the Blairs more than $ 400,000 in property taxes, the investigation found.

The Blairs and al-Zayanis both said they initially did not know the other party was involved in the deal, the investigation found. Cherie Blair said her husband was not involved in the purchase, which was intended to “bring the company and building back into the UK’s tax and regulatory system”. An al-Zayanis lawyer said they were obeying British law.

In 2009, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis put $ 22 million in mailbox companies to buy castle land in a mountain village in Mougins, France, near Cannes. The letterbox companies and the castle were not mentioned in Babis’ required asset declarations, as evidenced by documents received by the journalism group’s Czech partner, Investigace.cz.

A real estate company that is indirectly owned by Babis bought the Monegasque company that owned the castle in 2018, the investigation found.

“I’ve been waiting for you to do something shortly before the election to harm me and influence the Czech election,” Babis tweeted in his first reaction to the report.

Parliamentary elections are held in the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday.

“I’ve never done anything illegal or wrong,” added Babis.

(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite, or redistribute this material.)

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