Financial secrets of the world elite, including Indians disclosed in the Pandora Papers

NEW DELHI: As per an investigation published on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, more than a dozen heads of state and government, including the King of Jordan and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, have amassed millions in secret offshore holdings (ICIJ).

The so-called “Pandora Papers” investigation is based on the leak of 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services businesses around the world, including 600 journalists from dozens of outlets like The Washington Post and The Guardian.

Many of the power players who could help put an end to the offshore system instead benefit from it, stashing assets in covert companies and trusts while their governments do little to slow a global flow of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations, according to the leaked records.

Here’s what is learned so far:

  • Over 300 Indians have been named in the documents, including those suspected of economic crimes, former members of Parliament, and those under investigation by law enforcement agencies.
  • Despite declaring bankruptcy in a UK court, industrialist Anil Ambani has 18 asset holding offshore entities, according to a report by the Indian Express, which was part of the consortium.
  • The husband of Biocon promoter Kiran Mazumder Shaw allegedly set up a trust with keys to a person who was blacklisted by Sebi for insider trading.
  • Also, barely a month before fugitive Nirav Modi fled the country, his sister established a trust.
  • Following the Panama papers leak in 2016, numerous individuals who held offshore businesses chose for a reorganization of their overseas assets, according to the Express story.
  • According to the article, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was among those who requested the liquidation of his offshore entity following the Panama leak.
  • The papers suggest that Jordan’s King Abdullah II surreptitiously accumulated $100 million in property in the United States and the United Kingdom, including luxury beach view residences in Malibu, according to the Guardian.
  • The list includes around 700 Pakistanis, including ministers and important members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle. The disclosures have also named retired army leaders, businessmen – notably Axact’s CEO Shoaib Sheikh – and media company owners.
  • The confidential documents reveal the offshore activities of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Ukraine’s, Kenya’s, and Ecuador’s presidents, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • The documents also reveal the financial dealings of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial minister of publicity” and over 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey, and other countries.
  • The Pandora Papers investigation is bigger and more worldwide than the ICIJ’s blockbuster Panama Papers investigation, which shook the world in 2016 and resulted in police raids and new laws in dozens of countries, as well as the resignations of prime leaders in Iceland and Pakistan.

The Panama Papers were obtained from the files of a single offshore services provider, Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law company. The Pandora Papers shed light on a far broader group of lawyers and middlemen at the heart of the offshore sector.

The Pandora Papers contain more than twice as much information about offshore company ownership. In total, the fresh document dump discloses the true owners of around 29,000 offshore corporations. Owners hail from more than 200 nations and territories, with Russia, the United Kingdom, Argentina, and China having the greatest contingents.

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