InvestigationThe leak of confidential documents, the source of the investigation conducted by “Le Monde” and the ICIJ, reveals that many heads of state and government are hiding their fortunes behind anonymous shell companies.
One king, seven presidents and four sitting prime ministers. Hundreds of politicians from over 90 countries. The list of political figures who appear in the “Pandora Papers” looks like a real catalog of the world political elite. Overview of the main revelations of this leak of 12 million confidential documents on tax havens, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and scrutinized for more than a year by 150 international media.
What are the “Pandora Papers”?
“Pandora Papers” is a collaborative investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with 150 international media, including The world. It is based on the leak of nearly 12 million confidential documents, transmitted by an anonymous source to the ICIJ, from the archives of fourteen firms specializing in the creation of offshore companies in tax havens (British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Singapore, Panama, the Seychelles…).
Five years after the “Panama Papers”, the survey reveals the extent of the abuses of the offshore industry and its limited companies. She shows how this system benefits hundreds of policymakers, and how new tax havens are taking over as old ones convert to transparency.
Andrej Babis, Czech Prime Minister
It is a two-storey villa with billiards, cinema room, sauna and swimming pool, surrounded by a gigantic domain of sixteen plots in the hills of Mougins (Alpes-Maritimes), in the hinterland of Cannes. On the French Riviera, most neighbors of Chateau Bigaud are unaware that it is owned by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, 67, sixth fortune from his country, which bought it in 2009 through a cascade of offshore companies. Entered politics in 2011 promising an “anti-corruption revolution”, Mr. Babis has led the government of this central European country since 2017.
If this Francophile has never hidden from owning the neighboring starred restaurant, the Paloma, closed in 2019, he had not declared to hold 40,000 m2 of various properties across the street, thanks to a myriad of companies domiciled in Monaco, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the United States. None of the asset declarations that he has had to fill out since his first election to Parliament in 2013 thus shows SCP Bigaud, Blakey Finance or Boyne Holdings, these offshore companies revealed by the “Pandora Papers”.
When he acquired the Château Bigaud in 2009, for the sum of 14 million euros, then requested a loan of 1.75 million euros from Sogelife, a subsidiary of Société Générale, to finance work and its extension, the billionaire had recourse to an opaque assembly which completely prevented it from being identified. “A typical type of structure for tax evasion or money laundering”, even believes Christoph Trautvetter, an expert from the German network for tax justice, interviewed by our partners of German public television ARD.
Mr. Babis did not wish to answer the Consortium’s questions, but “All our transactions took place in a perfectly legal manner and we have paid all the required taxes”, challenged by e-mail Karel Hanzelka, spokesperson for his group, Agrofert. In the midst of the electoral campaign for the legislative elections of October 8 and 9, Mr. Babis is already questioned by the European Commission because he continues to run his businesses behind the scenes, while they benefit from millions of euros of European funds.
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