A massive trove of newly released confidential records exposes lucrative
tax havens for some of the world’s most rich and powerful figures, from
Jordan’s king to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and spicy pop
singer Shakira — and even an underground art dealer whose collections have
been displayed at The Met.
Dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” the records consist of nearly 12 million
documents detailing systematic tax-dodging by 14 firms that use off-shore
bank accounts that hide the fortunes and assets of hundreds of wealthy
Rich corporations and individuals used shell companies and secret trusts
to hide assets ranging in yachts and jets, to mansions and insurance
The records, the largest ever leak of confidential documents, were
compiled and released by the International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists, a worldwide coalition of media organizations.
Among those nabbed with off-shore accounts are 35 current and former world
leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who had hidden $106 million
from the purchase of mansions in Malibu and elsewhere, according to a
report in the Washington Post.
Included in those secret Malibu purchases is a mega-mansion overlooking a
stretch of coastline where the famous last scene from the 1968 movie
“Planet of the Apes” was filmed.
Companies affiliated with Abdullah spent nearly $70 million on luxury
homes in Southern California between 2014 and 2017 — but dodged taxes on
the ritzy purchases, according to the report. His property empire
stretches from Malibu to Washington, DC condos, and trophy property in
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the records —
but his alleged mistress is, to the tune of $100 million in “secret
wealth,” the Washington Post said.
A shell company in the Virgin Islands purchased a ritzy Monaco apartment
in 2003 for Svetlana Krivonogikh for $4.1 million, the papers show.
Krivonogikh has reportedly had a years-long relationship with Putin and
has had at least one child with him, according to the outlet.
Also shielding their assets from taxes were Czech Prime Minister Andrej
Babis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Kenyan President Uhuru
Douglas Latchford, an indicted antiquities dealer linked to looted
Cambodian artifacts — whose art collections have been displayed at New
York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — allegedly used the offshore accounts
to conceal profits from underground art trading.
Latchford was charged in 2019 with illegally peddling priceless ancient
Khmer Empire artifacts by falsifying invoices and other records.
Tony Blair, Britain’s longest-serving prime minister, avoided paying more
than $580,000 in property transfer taxes by purchasing an $11 million
London mansion by buying the property through shares from a British Virgin
Islands holding company, the papers show.
Colombian-born singer Shakira, who is already in tax trouble for allegedly
not paying her taxes in Spain, set up offshore entities in the British
Virgin Islands to conceal assets, according to the Pandora Papers.
The documents also highlight $700 million worth of London property owned
by the ruling family in Azerbaijan, the Aliyevs. Leader Ilham Aliyev’s
daughter, Leyla, who is highlighted in reporting about the Pandora Papers,
was previously married to Emin Agalarov, the Baku-born rock star son of a
billionaire developer who has had close ties to Vladimir Putin and Donald
Trump. Emin Agalarov and Leyla, his now-ex-wife, previously spent time
raising their two children in a mansion in Alpine, New Jersey.
Sports figures, including Canadian Olympic figure skater Elvis Stojko and
Formula 1 race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, also made the lengthy list.
The records, with 2.94 terabytes of data, dwarf the Panama Papers in size.
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