Secret wealth of world leaders exposed in leaked document dubbed the Pandora Paper

Secret wealth of world leaders exposed in leaked document dubbed the Pandora Paper

The secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents.

Some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 public officials are featured in the files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers.

They reveal the King of Jordan secretly amassed £70m of UK and US property.

They also show how ex-UK PM Tony Blair and his wife saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office.

The couple bought an offshore firm that owned the building.

The leak also links Russian President Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, and shows the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – facing an election later this week – failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for £12m in the south of France.

It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past seven years, following the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks.

The examination of the files is the largest organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), with more than 650 reporters taking part.

Some figures are facing allegations of corruption, money laundering and global tax avoidance.

But one of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK.

The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore firms behind the purchases.

It highlights the UK government’s failure to introduce a register of offshore property owners despite repeated promises to do so, amid concerns some property buyers could be hiding money-laundering activities.

The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, who have been accused of looting their own country, are one example.

The investigation found the Aliyevs and their close associates have secretly been involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m.

The revelations could prove embarrassing for the UK government, as the Aliyevs appear to have made a £31m profit after selling one of their London properties to the Crown Estate – the Queen’s property empire that is managed by The Treasury and raises cash for the nation.

Many of the transactions in the documents involve no legal wrongdoing.

But Fergus Shiel, from the ICIJ, said: “There’s never been anything on this scale and it shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy cash or avoid tax.”

He added: “They are using those offshore accounts, those offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of property in other countries, and to enrich their own families, at the expense of their citizens.”

The ICIJ believes the investigation is “opening a box on a lot of things” – hence the name Pandora Papers.

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