In a real-life rendition of the movie “Opening Pandora’s Box,” a trove of leaked private documents exposes hundreds of world leaders, politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers that have been hiding their investments in a private, secret offshore system.
According to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms around the world, these global elites have been hiding their investments anywhere from mansions to exclusive beachfront properties to yachts galore.
The report released Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 500 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries and has been dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” per Fox News.
Indeed, more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Billionaires were also revealed in the report, including Turkish construction giant Erman Ilicak and former CEO of Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman.
The offshore system was used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and citizens around the world. The report includes more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah on luxury homes in Malibu; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of Kenya, Ecuador, the Czech Republic and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who reportedly had a child with Vladimir Putin, per the Washington Post.
“The new data leak must be a wake-up call,” Sven Giegold, a Green Party lawmaker in the European Parliament said. “Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We need to expand and sharpen the countermeasures now.”
Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, applauded the Pandora Papers for exposing brazen examples of greed that deprived countries of tax revenue that could be used to finance programs and projects for the greater good.
"This is where our missing hospitals are," Oxfam said in a statement. "This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look."
The extensive files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts registered in familiar offshore havens including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. However, some of the secret accounts were also scattered around trusts in the United States, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.
“The offshore financial system is a problem that should concern every law-abiding person around the world,” Sherine Ebadi, a former FBI officer who served as lead agent on dozens of financial criminal cases, said. “These systems don’t just allow tax cheats to avoid paying their fair share. They undermine the fabric of a good society.”