Over the past year, 600 journalists from around the world have collaborated to investigate millions of leaked documents about hidden fortunes and secret companies.
We have found 35 current and former heads of state, more than 300 politicians and government officials, and 130 billionaires, including 46 Russian oligarchs. They are among the most powerful people in the world. Everyone has invested money or run businesses in places known for their great secrecy and low taxes.
Read all cases E24.no/pandorapapers.
Among them is King Abdullah II of Jordan. He has secretly bought 14 luxury homes in the United States and the United Kingdom worth more than $ 100 million. His lawyers reject tax evasion and justify secrecy about the security of the royal family.
The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, has never declared that he owns luxury villas on the French Riviera. Babiš came to power after leading an election campaign against corruption and the wealthy elite. He himself has used secret company structures abroad. So far, Babiš has refused to answer questions about the case.
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Leaked documents reveal secret luxury estates of Jordan’s king
The presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador have also revealed their hidden fortunes.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, declines to comment. Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso denies having anything to do with hidden values, saying that he has always followed Ecuadorian laws. The Kenyan president has not responded to repeated questions.
The leaked documents also show that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife have owned a Victorian building in London through tax havens. Here’s how they saved $ 400,000 in property taxes. According to his wife, Blair himself has not been involved in the deal. She further says that the property was arranged in this way at the request of the seller, and that the business has now been closed.
The revelations are spread across all continents and most countries. Also to Norway.
It is not illegal to hold securities in tax havens. But secrecy can facilitate illegal cash flows like tax evasion, money laundering and corruption. When wealthy people move their assets abroad, you can generate less tax revenue and investment at home.
More than 300 Norwegians
Aftenposten / E24 has identified more than 300 Norwegians in the leaked documents. Most people own joint-stock companies in tax havens and have assets there. The list includes hairdressers, professional drivers, shipowners, lawyers and investors.
We have gained access to the leaked documents through International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). It’s an ideal Washington DC-based newsroom with a tireless network of journalists around the world.
The leak consists of nearly 12 million secret documents. They are almost three terabytes of text documents, spreadsheets, images, video and audio files.
The main body of the documents dates from the period 1996 to 2020. Some of the documents date from the 1970s.
In recent years, the ICIJ has spearheaded a series of disclosures based on leaks of tax haven documents. The Panama documents in 2016 were a leak from a single law firm. On the client list were the Prime Minister of Iceland and Pakistan and DNB, partly state-owned.
This leak of documents has been called Pandora Papers. It comes from 14 different law firms, asset managers, and consulting firms. They are located in Anguilla, Belize, Singapore, Switzerland, Panama, Barbados, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, and Vietnam.
What they all have in common is that they help their clients establish themselves behind hidden structures in tax havens. And they attract customers from more than 200 countries.
For a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, anyone can buy a business without having their name on it. Advisors are the face of the company to the outside world and handle the paperwork. Clients can operate in secret. Now 11.9 million of those documents have been leaked.
In the leak we have found several hundred people who were also mentioned in the Panamanian newspapers. After the leak in 2016, they moved their companies to companies from which the new leak originated.
Not just billionaires
The Pandora documents contain nearly three times as many heads of state and more than twice as many politicians as previous leaks.
It shows that hidden fortunes aren’t just the cliché of sunny islands with palm trees and mailboxes. In all corners of the world you can find something that actually has a different owner than the one on paper.
Russia is the country with the most people owning the companies mentioned in the leak:
The Pandora papers reveal the true owners of 29,000 anonymous companies, a wide range of bank accounts, private jets, luxury boats, antiques, villas and exclusive works of art.
And it’s not just billionaires, politicians, and heads of state who are behind this. The leak reveals the hidden fortunes of, among others, pop stars, supermodels and sports heroes. You can read more about them at E24 next Tuesday. Many of the people featured in the leak have previously commented critically on the use of tax havens.
Read on E24 +
The powerful president of Kenya founded in the tax haven of Panama