The Pandora Papers investigation has revealed that 35 current and former world leaders — including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the king of Jordan and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta — as well as powerful billionaires were affiliated with companies that use offshore tax havens.
Offshore accounts are often used to secretly manage and move large sums of money to hide a person’s true wealth.
The investigation, carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and a team of 150 news outlets — including DW’s Turkish service — also found that more than 330 high-level politicians and public officials worldwide have ties to offshore accounts.
The millions of leaked documents examined by the biggest journalism partnership in history show the extent to which secretive offshore operations are entangled in global finance politics.
The finance ministers of Pakistan, the Netherlands and Brazil all have ties to offshore companies, as do former finance ministers of Malta and France — including ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
According to ICIJ, the Pandora Papers show that the power players who could help bring an end to the offshore system are instead benefiting from it — stashing assets in covert companies and trusts while their governments do little to slow a global stream of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations.
Blair to Babis: Europe’s elite uncovered
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken out against tax avoidance for decades, but the leaks reveal he and his wife were able to own an $8.8 million (€7.6 million) building when they bought an offshore real estate company from the family of Bahrain’s industry and tourism minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani.
By purchasing the company shares — and not the building directly — Blair and his wife Cherie were able to avoid having to pay property taxes totaling $400,000.
Both the Blairs and the al-Zayanis said they did not initially know about each other’s involvement in the deal. Cherie Blair said her husband was not involved in the transaction. The company is now closed.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire who rose to power in 2017 with the promise to crack down on corruption, is also named in the Pandora Papers.
The leaked records show that in 2009, Babis injected $22 million into a string of shell companies to buy a mansion with two swimming pools and a cinema on a hilltop village in the French Riviera, near Cannes. Investigace.cz found that the ownership of the shell companies and homes was not listed in the asset declarations he filed.
Babis did not respond to requests for comment.