Countering the mainstream

Pandora Papers: Investigative Consortium Exposes Massive Global Corruption

by | Oct 6, 2021 | The Edge, News

Millions of secret documents uncovered by the biggest journalism partnership in history have exposed the corrupt offshore dealings of world leaders and politicians in 91 countries and territories. These leaked records reveal that many powerful figures could help end this offshore system, but instead benefit from it while their governments ignore “a global stream of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations.”

These 11.9 million leaked confidential documents are known as the Pandora Papers. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained them with a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years tracking sources and digging through public documents from dozens of countries.

Their findings detail the offshore purchases of the King of Jordan, who bought three beachfront mansions in the years after Jordanians filled the streets during Arab Spring to protest joblessness and corruption. Through offshore companies, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, a billionaire who has spoken out against the corruption of elites, purchased a lavish $22 million chateau in the French Riviera. The papers further show the dealings of presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, among many others.

The records come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that establish shell companies for clients to keep their financial movements in the shadows. Key players include elite institutions, such as multinational banks, law firms, and accounting practices in the U.S. and Europe.

This investigation shows a larger global entanglement than the ICIJ’s landmark Panama Papers investigation in 2016, which led to police raids, new laws in dozens of countries, and the fall of prime ministers in Iceland and Pakistan. A series of charts highlights the massive scale of the Pandora Papers, such as the countries housing the over 27,000 companies in the data: Where are the beneficial owners revealed in the Pandora Papers from?

Celebrities, too, have moved money offshore, where tax rates are low or zero and their businesses and identities are hidden. ICIJ tracked the shady companies made by stars including Shakira, Ringo Starr, and Elton John.

The papers have sparked calls in over a dozen countries for further investigation into exposed leaders. Further action by governments and journalists across the globe must also hold corrupt executives and the U.S. trust industry to account as they funnel wealth to the rich.

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