Dozens of heads of state and heads of government, including those of Jordan, Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used tax havens abroad to hide their hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, according to an investigation by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). ).
The investigation, dubbed the “Pandora Papers”, involved around 600 journalists from various media including The Washington Post, BBC and The Guardian. They investigated the leak of about 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.
Some of the 35 leaders and former leaders listed in documents analyzed by the ICIJ face charges ranging from corruption to money laundering and tax evasion.
In most countries, the ICIJ stressed, it is not illegal to own assets overseas or to use shell companies to do business in a foreign country.
But such disclosures are a disgrace to leaders who may publicly campaign against tax evasion and corruption, and call for austerity efforts at home.
The document exposes how Jordan’s King Abdullah II created a network of overseas companies and tax havens to collect $100 million worth of property from Malibu, California to Washington and London.
The Jordanian embassy in Washington declined to comment. But BBC citing the king’s lawyers as saying all of his properties were purchased with personal wealth, and it is common practice for prominent figures to buy property through overseas companies for privacy and security reasons.
Other figures revealed in the investigation include the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, former British prime minister Tony Blair, people in the circle of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. (vm/pp)