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Minggu, 03 Oktober 2021

‘Pandora Papers’ expose leaders’ offshore millions - NEWS.com.au

The public figures exposed by the 'Pandora Papers' included the Colombian singer Shakira-- whose lawyers said her offshore assets were legitimate

More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the ICIJ media consortium.

The so-called "Pandora Papers" investigation -- involving some 600 journalists from media including The Washington Post, the BBC and The Guardian -- is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.

In most countries, the ICIJ stresses, it is not illegal to have assets offshore or to use shell companies to do business across national borders.

The documents notably expose how Jordan's King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a $100 million property empire from Malibu, California to Washington and London.

Family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev -- long accused of corruption in the central Asian nation -- are alleged to have been secretly involved in property deals in Britain worth hundreds of millions.

"I have never done anything illegal or wrong," Babis hit back in a tweet, calling the revelations a smear attempt aimed at influencing the election.

In total, the ICIJ found links between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including more than a dozen serving heads of state and government, country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors and others. 

"I guess it mostly demonstrates that the people that could end the secrecy of offshore, could end what's going on, are themselves benefiting from it," the ICIJ's director Gerard Ryle said in a video accompanying the investigation.

For Maira Martini, a policy expert with Transparency International, the latest investigation once more offers "clear evidence of how the offshore industry promotes corruption and financial crime, while obstructing justice."

Among the other revelations from the ICIJ investigation:

-- Members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, are said to secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars. In a series of tweets, Khan vowed to "take appropriate action" if any wrongdoing by Pakistani citizens is established.

-- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta -- who has campaigned against corruption and for financial transparency -- is alleged along with several family members of secretly owning a network of offshore companies.

The "Pandora Papers" are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents, from LuxLeaks in 2014, to the 2016 Panama Papers -- which triggered the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland and paved the way for the leader of Pakistan to be ousted.

The documents behind the latest investigation are drawn from financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.

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2021-10-03 20:21:46Z
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