Posted: Monday, October 4, 2021. 1:47 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: World leaders, politicians, billionaires, artists, drug dealers, religious leaders, and sports stars have hidden wealth in offshore banks, shell companies, beachfront properties, mansions, yachts to avoid paying taxes over the last 25 years or more, say the Pandora Papers, according to the Associated Press.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released their findings on Sunday involving more than 330 current and former politicians and many other billionaires around the world including former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Czech Republic Primer Minister Andrej Babis, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.
In what the ICIJ calls the “Pandora Papers: An offshore tsunami” and term “the world’s largest-ever journalistic collaboration”, 600 journalists from 150 media houses in 117 countries brought to light the dealings of so many world-renowned personalities which also include Elton John, ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, and Shakira, who was just cleared of tax-evasion charges in Spain.
The journalists managed to gain access to “accounts registered in familiar offshore havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong, and Belize,” said Associated Press. “But some of the secret accounts were also scattered around in trusts set up in the U.S., including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.”
The Belize firms mentioned in the Pandora Papers are Glenn D. Godfrey and Company LLP (1980 – 2019), CIL Trust International (1996 – 2019), and CCS Trust International (2001 – 2017). Belize also falls under the jurisdiction of four other firms mentioned in the Pandora Papers.
The investigation went through 12 million files from 14 firms around the world. The records investigated date all the way back to 1970, though the majority are from 1996 to 2020.
Even Britain’s Crown Estate, the property business owned by Queen Elizabeth II, has found itself in the middle of the scandal. The Estate reported it would review the US$91 million purchase of a London building from a company that is reportedly a front for the family of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
The Pandora Papers have caused some governments to say they will investigate and create tax reforms while some of the persons accused have defended themselves saying that their actions are not illegal.
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