Pandora Papers published: Tax haven research burdens hundreds of politicians

Pandora Papers published
Tax haven research burdens hundreds of politicians

Journalists uncover secret financial transactions of more than 300 politicians worldwide. According to the Pandora Papers, they include Czech Prime Minister Babis and Ukrainian President Zelenskyi. A German supermodel is also said to have been a customer of an offshore company.

According to an international research network, a huge data leak reveals the secret dealings of hundreds of politicians with letterbox companies. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), to which the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” belongs, published some of the research results on the involvement of more than 330 politicians and officials from 91 countries, such as Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in offshore business.

Around 600 journalists in 117 countries were involved in the evaluation of the so-called Pandora Papers. According to the ICIJ, 11.9 million leaked documents “covering every corner of the world” have been evaluated. In Germany, in addition to the “Süddeutsche”, NDR and WDR also took part in the research. According to the media, the data – almost three terabytes in total – come from 14 companies that offer offshore constructs.

The current Czech Prime Minister Babis is said to have bought a country castle in southern France for more than 15 million euros in this way, largely anonymously. For him, the timing of the publication is particularly sensitive because a new parliament will be elected in the Czech Republic next week.

Also the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj, numerous confidants of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and many celebrities such as the model Claudia Schiffer are or were customers of offshore companies, according to “Süddeutsche”. The President of the EU country Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis, was therefore actively involved in the offshore business with his law firm, which is now run by his daughters.

As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” writes, doing business in tax havens is not strictly prohibited. It only becomes illegal if, for example, taxable income from tax havens is not reported to the local tax office.

Panama worries about its image

The government of Panama had already warned of serious damage to the country’s image as a result of the Panama Papers 2016 before the publication of the Pandora Papers. At that time, an anonymous whistleblower for the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” leaked more than eleven million internal documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. An evaluation in collaboration with the ICIJ revealed a sophisticated system for global tax avoidance.

After the publication, a number of politicians – including the then Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – had to resign from their offices. Thousands of preliminary investigations have been initiated around the world.

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