Pandora papers news – live: World leaders deny wrongdoing after huge leak of financial documents

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Pandora papers news – live: World leaders deny wrongdoing after huge leak of financial documents
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Several world leaders have denied any wrongdoing after a huge leak of documents revealed the secret financial dealings of the global elite.

The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from a variety of global media outlets, is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the globe.

Among those named in the files are associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Czech prime minister Andrej Babis. All three have issued statements claiming they have done nothing wrong.

“For now it is just not clear what this information is and what it is about,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that “we didn’t see any hidden wealth of Putin’s inner circle in there”.

King Abdullah said claims he used offshore accounts to disguise a £70m hidden property empire were “defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation”.

“Any allegations that link these private properties to public funds or assistance are baseless and deliberate attempts to distort facts,” a statement from the Royal Hashemite Court said on Monday.

Meanwhile on Twitter, Mr Babis said he had done nothing “illegal or wrong” and suggested the leaks were an attempt to “influence the Czech election”, which takes place next week.

Read More

Pandora Papers: Leaked documents reveal secret offshore financial dealings of world leaders and billionaires

Pandora Papers: Tony and Cherie Blair avoided paying £312,000 in tax on London property by acquiring offshore firm

Key points

  • Rishi Sunak says London’s tax reputation not a source of shame

  • Story in full: What is the Pandora papers leak?

  • Return donor’s cash, Labour tells Tories

  • Boris Johnson defends vetting of donations to Conservatives

  • Shakira and Elton John named in leaks

Rishi Sunak promises HMRC investigation of leaked data

08:33 , Jon Sharman

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will probe the information leaked in the so-called “Pandora papers”, Rishi Sunak has said.

The chancellor, himself a wealthy former banker, told Sky News on Monday he had never benefited from any offshore schemes of the kind described by some of the leaks.

He added: “I've seen these things overnight as well and it's always tough for me to comment on them specifically given they've only just emerged, and of course HMRC will look through those to see if there's anything we can learn.”

In another interview he also said wealthy people avoiding tax was a global problem, after he was asked whether he was ashamed that London is a haven for those looking to get out of paying their fair share.

Mr Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it’s a source of shame because actually our track record on this is very strong.

“As you’ve seen from the [Pandora] papers, it’s a global problem, there’s a global dimension to it and we need other countries to co-operate with us to tackle this, but we’re determined to do that.”

Story in full: What is the ‘Pandora papers’ leak?

08:34 , Jon Sharman

The secret offshore wealth of more than 300 world leaders, politicians and influential figures in the business world has been revealed in one of the largest ever leaks of financial data, writes Daniel Keane.

The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from a variety of global media outlets, is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the globe.

Some 35 world leaders and more than 100 billionaires are implicated in the leaked documents. Among those named in the files are Tony Blair, associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Czech prime minister Andrej Babis.

Pandora Papers: Huge trove of leaked documents reveal offshore wealth of global elite

Blairs avoided paying £312,000 in tax on London property by acquiring offshore firm

08:53 , Jon Sharman

Tony and Cherie Blair avoided paying £312,000 in tax on the purchase of a London property by acquiring an offshore company, according to a trove of leaked documents, writes Daniel Keane.

The former British prime minister and his wife bought the £6.45m townhouse on Harcourt Street, Marylebone, in 2017 as an office for her legal advisory firm Omnia and her foundation for women.

The manner of the deal allowed the Blairs to avoid having to pay stamp duty, as the tax is not paid when the holding company of a property is acquired rather than the building directly. There is no suggestion the Blairs actively tried to avoid paying the tax and the transaction was not illegal.

Tony and Cherie Blairs ‘avoided paying £312,000 tax by acquiring offshore firm’

Tax avoidance a global problem, Sunak insists

09:14 , Jon Sharman

Rishi Sunak has said wealthy people avoiding tax is a global problem, after he was asked whether he was ashamed that London is a haven for those looking to get out of paying their fair share.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't think it's a source of shame because actually our track record on this is very strong.

"As you've seen from the [Pandora] papers, it's a global problem, there's a global dimension to it and we need other countries to co-operate with us to tackle this, but we're determined to do that."

Labour seizes on Pandora papers

09:24 , Jon Sharman

Labour has said the Pandora papers show the need for a crackdown on “dirty money”.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, said the UK must become “inhospitable” for wealthy people trying to hide their riches.

She tweeted: “The tentacles of dark money exposed by the #PandoraPapers reach into the heart of UK democracy. That’s why I announced a new Illicit Finance Taskforce at Labour Conference with the explicit aim of making Britain the most inhospitable place in the world for dirty money.”

And Margaret Hodge, a former minister in Tony Blair’s government, said the leaks “reveal a monstrous culture among the world’s richest” of “no integrity, just pervasive greed”. Britain was the “country of choice for kleptocrats”, she added.

White House talks up tax plans

09:34 , Jon Sharman

Joe Biden’s White House has reacted overnight to the publication of reports based on the Pandora papers by promoting the president’s plan for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Its official account tweeted: “The Build Back Better Agenda will ensure the wealthy pay their fair share – giving the middle class a tax cut and ensuring lower costs on child care, health care, and more for working families.

“President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda will crack down on the unfair tax schemes that give big corporations a leg up. It's time to deal-in hard-working Americans and ensure the super-wealthy pay their fair share.”

Oxfam claims leaks reveal ‘where our missing hospitals are'

09:53 , Jon Sharman

The Pandora papers leaks show “where our missing hospitals are”, according to Oxfam.

The charity described the schemes revealed by the reports as a “secret parallel system of capital, one open only to those with fat amounts of money”.

Susana Ruiz, its international tax policy spokesperson, said in a statement: “This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need.

“Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-Covid recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.

“Tax havens cost governments around the world $427bn (£315bn) each year. That is the equivalent of a nurse’s yearly salary every second of every hour, every day. Ordinary taxpayers have to pick up the pieces.

“Developing countries are being hardest hit, proportionately. Corporations and the wealthiest individuals that use tax havens are outcompeting those who don’t. Tax havens also help crime and corruption to flourish.

“Governments’ promises to end tax havens are still a long way from being realised. We cannot allow tax havens to continue to stretch global inequality to breaking point while the world experiences the largest increase in extreme poverty in decades.”

Tory donor Mohamed Amersi ‘involved in £162m corruption scandal’

10:12 , Jon Sharman

A Conservative party donor who helped fund Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign was involved in a major corruption scandal, according to an investigation into a trove of leaked financial documents.

Mohamed Amersi reportedly advised Swedish telecoms giant Telia on a £162m deal with the daughter of Uzbekistan’s former ruler Islam Karimov – a payment later described by the US authorities as a “bribe”, writes Adam Forrest.

The Swedish company was later fined £700m by the US authorities over the deal and accepted that the money given to Gulnara Karimova was a “corrupt payment”.

Tory donor ‘involved in £162m corruption scandal’

Jordan’s king says overseas property purchases were above-board

10:41 , Jon Sharman

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has described his overseas property holdings as neither “unusual nor improper” in response to reports detailing his many expensive homes in the US and UK.

The monarch was named in Pandora papers reports which showed he had luxury homes in California, London and Washington DC worth tens of millions of pounds. The reports did not allege any wrongdoing but contrasted Abdullah’s vast wealth with the conditions in which many of his subjects live.

According to The Guardian the king’s purchases were made through offshore companies located in the British Virgin Islands.

In a statement through the royal court Abdullah said the transactions were kept under the radar for security reasons, and that no public funds were used.

The royal court’s statement said: “It is no secret that His Majesty owns a number of apartments and residences in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“This is not unusual nor improper. His Majesty uses these properties during official visits and hosts officials and foreign dignitaries there. The King and his family members also stay in some of these properties during private visits.

“As such, the details pertaining to these properties are made available to the concerned parties when planning both official and private visits and coordinating on security matters.

“These properties are not publicised out of security and privacy concerns, and not out of secrecy or an attempt to hide them, as these reports have claimed. Measures to maintain privacy are crucial for a head of state of His Majesty’s position.

“In addition to privacy requirements, there are critical security considerations that prevent divulging His Majesty’s and his family’s places of residence, particularly in light of heightened security risks.

“To this end, companies were registered in external jurisdictions to manage and administer the properties and to ensure strict compliance with all relevant legal and financial obligations.

“The cost of these properties and all related expenditures have been personally funded by His Majesty.”

The Pandora papers details are an embarrassing blow for the king, whose government was engulfed in scandal this year when his half-brother, former crown prince Hamzah, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence.

Abdullah responded that he was the victim of a “malicious plot”, placed Hamza under house arrest and put two former close aides on trial.

Blairs respond further to story about Marylebone property purchase

11:00 , Jon Sharman

The Tony Blair Institute has issued a response to coverage of the purchase by the ex-PM and his wife of a central London property that meant they did not pay stamp duty.

The couple bought the holding company which owned the property.

You can read our story about that here.

In a tweeted statement, the institute said the office premises were acquired from “an offshore company which the Blairs had had nothing to do with”.

It added: “[Cherie Blair] brought it onshore. No stamp duty was payable because it was the sale of a company.

“But capital gains tax – likely to be much more than the stamp duty – will of course be payable when it is resold.

“The allegation that [the Blairs] avoided tax is therefore completely false.

“They have always paid their taxes in full and never used offshore avoidance schemes of any kind.”

Tories should return donor money, says Labour

11:19 , Jon Sharman

Anneliese Dodds, chair of the Labour party, has responded to reports that Tory donor Mohamed Amersi has been linked to a major corruption scandal.

You can read our report on that here.

“It’s really concerning that the Conservatives have accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds from a man who appears to be closely linked to one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals,” she said.

“The Conservatives should return the money he donated to them and come clean about who else is getting exclusive access to the prime minister and the chancellor in return for cash.”

Donations to Conservative Party ‘vetted in normal way’, says Johnson

11:36 , Jon Sharman

Boris Johnson has commented on reports that a major Conservative Party donor was linked to an allegedly corrupt telecoms deal.

Mohamed Amersi reportedly advised Swedish telecoms giant Telia on a £162m deal with the daughter of Uzbekistan’s former ruler Islam Karimov – a payment later described by the US authorities as a “bribe”.

The prime minister said on Monday: “All I can say on that one is all these donations are vetted in the normal way in accordance with rules that were set up under a Labour government. So, we vet them the whole time.”

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11:50 , Jon Sharman

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Russia hits out at ‘largely unsubstantiated claims'

12:29 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin’s press secretary has dismissed the so-called Pandora papers, which purport to link Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco, as “just a set of largely unsubstantiated claims”.

“We didn’t see anything on hidden wealth within Putin’s inner circle,” Dmitry Peskov was reported as saying, adding that it was not clear “how this information can be trusted.”

However, he also suggested the US was implicated in the leak as the largest offshore haven, claiming: “What catches the eye is which country is the world’s largest lagoon. This, of course, is the US.”

Conservatives must ‘return donor money’, says Labour

12:45 , Andy Gregory

My colleague Adam Forrest has more details on Labour’s assertions that the Tories should return money donated by Mohamed Amersi in the wake of claims he was involved in a telecoms corruption scandal.

Mr Amersi has given nearly £525,000 to the party since 2018, Electoral Commission records show, and made headlines in July when he revealed the existence of a group of wealthy Tory donors known as the “advisory board”.

According to the BBC and The Guardian, the Tory donor advised Swedish telecoms firm Telia on a £162m deal with the daughter of Uzbekistan’s former ruler in 2010 – a payment later described by US authorities as a “bribe”.

Mr Amersi’s lawyers have denied that he “knowingly” helped facilitate any corrupt payments and had “no reason” to believe money given to Gulnara Karimova might be a bribe.

Tories must ‘return money’, says Labour after donor linked to corruption scandal

Czech PM could become first victim of Pandora Papers

13:01 , Andy Gregory

For Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš, the timing of the Pandora Papers could not have been worse, William Nattrass reports from Prague.

Czech parliamentary elections are taking place on 8 and 9 October, and Babiš now risks becoming the first victim of the Pandora Papers’ revelations – with the latest polls having shown a tightening in the election race.

Mr Babiš’s ANO party is now projected to win 25.2 per cent of the vote, ahead of the SPOLU opposition coalition on 20.9 per cent. Furious reactions to the Pandora Papers could further weaken Babiš’s position.

“How intensively Czech officials try to investigate the Pandora Papers will show to what extent the Czech state has been ‘occupied’ by Babiš and his people,” said the chief editor of a leading anti-Babiš news portal. Read more details here:

Czech PM Babis could become first victim of Pandora Papers

Story in full: What is the Pandora papers leak?

13:26 , Jon Sharman

The secret offshore wealth of more than 300 world leaders, politicians and influential figures in the business world has been revealed in one of the largest ever leaks of financial data, writes Daniel Keane.

The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from a variety of global media outlets, is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the globe.

Some 35 world leaders and more than 100 billionaires are implicated in the leaked documents. Among those named in the files are Tony Blair, associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Czech prime minister Andrej Babis.

Pandora Papers: Huge trove of leaked documents reveal offshore wealth of global elite

Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr named in Pandora Papers leak

13:45 , Jon Sharman

Celebrities including Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr have been named in the leaked Pandora Papers, which have exposed the offshore dealings and assets of some of the world’s most powerful people.

More than 300 world leaders, politicians, business figures and entertainment stars have reportedly been tied to complex offshore accounting and tax avoidance schemes, writes Roisin O’Connor.

The report, put together by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), is based on the leak of approximately 11.9 million documents from 14 financial service companies.

Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr named in Pandora Papers leak

Calls for parliamentary debate on Pandora papers in Malaysia

13:55 , Jon Sharman

Malaysia's main opposition leader has called for information found in the Pandora Papers data leak to be discussed in parliament, after learning the country's former finance minister and several current officials might have been involved with offshore firms set up in tax havens.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim asked for a debate of this "urgent issue, as it has mentioned some big names in the country". He identified a former finance minister as well as the current post holder, Tengku Zafrul Aziz, and three other politicians.

"I believe this matter interest of the people, because it is also mentions the names of government and opposition political figures," he wrote in a Facebook post to which he attached his formal request for a parliamentary debate.

Mr Zafrul, a banker who was appointed finance minister last year, said in a statement that he had ended ties with the holding company and bank mentioned in the report by 2010.

He suggested he was considering suing online news portal Malaysiakini, the only Malaysian media organisation that was listed as being involved in the leak of documents to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Additional reporting by AP

India to launch Pandora papers probe

14:26 , Jon Sharman

India will investigate cases linked to the Pandora papers leak of financial documents, though officials said that the “names of only a few Indians have appeared so far in the media”.

“The relevant investigative agencies would undertake investigation in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

“With a view to ensure effective investigation in these cases, the government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities.”

Pandora Papers: Imran Khan promises to ‘investigate’ Pakistan cabinet members mentioned in the leak

14:42 , Jon Sharman

All 700 of Pakistan’s nationals named in the “Pandora Papers” will be investigated, said the country’s prime minister Imran Khan, after the names of top ministers from his cabinet appeared in the leaked documents.

The names of the nationals – including Mr Khan’s finance minister, his former adviser’s son and prominent donors of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party – have appeared in one of the largest leaks of financial data made public on Sunday, revealing the extent of hidden offshore wealth across the globe.

Mr Khan himself isn’t named. The documents, however, include two senior cabinet ministers: Moonis Elahi and Shaukat Tarin, the country’s water resources and finance ministers respectively. Both have denied any wrongdoing, writes Stuti Mishra.

Pakistan PM promises to ‘investigate’ cabinet members mentioned in Pandora Papers

Kenya’s president responds to being named in reports

15:19 , Jon Sharman

Kenya’s president has said he thinks the Pandora papers will “go a long way” in enhancing financial transparency around the world.

Uhuru Kenyatta was named in the leaked documents, according to reports, which said he and his family had been linked to some 13 offshore companies.

In a statement, he said: “Whilst I will respond comprehensively on my return from my state visit to the Americas, let me say this, that these reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe.

“The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and corruption thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness.

"The Pandora papers and subsequent follow-up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who can not explain their assets or wealth.”

Pandora Papers: Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar named in leak exposing offshore dealings

15:38 , Jon Sharman

Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his family members have been mentioned in a list of more than 300 world leaders, politicians and influential figures who allegedly used global tax havens as part of their complex tax arrangements, writes Sravasti Dasgupta.

The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from a variety of global media outlets, is based on the leak of 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the globe.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained the documents, which were then passed on to BBC, The Guardian and 150 other media outlets across the world. The leaked documents lay bare how the global elite use offshore tax havens to store and move their money.

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar named in Pandora Papers leak exposing offshore dealings

Lib Dems and SNP seize on Pandora papers claims

15:57 , Jon Sharman

The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party have seized on the Pandora papers reports to attack the Conservative Party, and call for major reforms and investigations.

It follows reports that a major Tory donor, Mohamed Amersi, had been linked to an allegedly corrupt telecoms deal in Uzbekistan.

Mr Amersi said on Monday: “Exhaustive investigations have been carried out into Telia [the Swedish telecoms firm] by multiple governmental authorities and no allegations of misconduct or criminality have ever been made against me.

“My work as an adviser has always been conducted appropriately and legally.”

You can read our story about that allegation here.

Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s spokesperson on treasury matters, demanded new, “rigorous regulation” and accused the Conservatives of “sinking in a sea of sleaze”.

She added: “Rishi Sunak must ensure that rigorous regulation is brought forward to create a tax-system that works for everyone, including cracking down on the abuse of Scottish limited partnerships and properly resourcing Companies House to carry out appropriate enforcement – something that the SNP has been calling for for years.

“It is time the Tories turned hollow rhetoric into action and started holding to account those who continue to exploit offshore tax havens.”

Her counterpart in the Lib Dems, Christine Jardine, called for an investigation by the Electoral Commission into Mr Amersi’s donations to the Tories. On Monday both Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson said donations to the party were all vetted according to law.

Ms Jardine said: “The Electoral Commission should launch an immediate investigation into these allegations. The Tories must comply with this investigation and explain what they are doing to stop the flow of dirty money into the UK.”

India says it will investigate Pandora Papers cases

16:16 , Daniel Keane

India’s government has promised to investigate cases linked to the Pandora Papers leak of financial documents.

The names of some 380 Indian businessmen, celebrities and politicians have been revealed in the Pandora Papers, including cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar and businessman Anil Ambani.

Tendulkar, along with several family members, was found to have owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) that was liquidated in 2016 following the release of the Panama Papers exposé.

Meanwhile Mr Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Communications, was also named in the leaked documents. Mr Ambani and his representatives were found to have owned at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Cyprus, according to the Indian Express.

“The relevant investigative agencies would undertake investigation in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Monday evening.

“With a view to ensure effective investigation in these cases, the Government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities.”

Snowden hails leaker of Pandora Papers

16:34 , Daniel Keane

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history, has paid tribute to whoever leaked the Pandora Papers.

“Hats off to the source”, he wrote on Twitter on Monday morning.

Mr Snowden is a former intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. He had formerly been an employee at the agency and subcontractor at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

He went on to provide several journalists with thousands of top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies’ surveillance of American citizens.

Mr Snowden is currently residing in Russia, where he was originally granted temporary asylum in June 2013 following the leak of the files.

Leaks ‘are reminder that there is magic money tree’, says MP

16:53 , Daniel Keane

A Labour MP has said that the leak of the Pandora Papers serves as a reminder that “there is a magic money tree”.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the MP for Streatham, added: “It’s called tax avoidance and the City of London is a forest.”

It comes after Ms Ribeiro-Addy’s party colleague and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy earlier claimed the leaks “reach into the heart of UK democracy”.

On Monday morning, Mrs Nandy announced a new Illicit Finance Taskforce with “the explicit aim of making Britain the most inhospitable place in the world for dirty money.”

Varadkar promises urgent review of Irish tax law

17:08 , Daniel Keane

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Tánaiste and minister for enterprise, has promised an urgent review of the country’s corporate tax law following the leak of the Pandora Papers.

Mr Varadkar said that the matter had been discussed with Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan on Monday.

Among the revelations contained in the leaks is that an empty office in Dublin is the registered address of more than 800 limited partnerships. The legal structure of the arrangements is designed to allow investors to invest in business with limited exposure, according to The Irish Times.

“Certainly they are a matter of concern,” Mr Varadkar told reporters.

“I have discussed the matter with the various party leaders earlier on. We are only starting to hear about these things and they are new revelations.

“It would appear on the face of it that some of the arrangements that may have involved Ireland are very dubious.

“We certainly don’t want to be part of any supply chain that people use to conceal their assets. There is nothing in that for us. We don’t want any part of it.”

He added: “If we need to make some changes to close those loopholes we will do that.”

Lebanon’s former PM denies wrongdoing

17:26 , Daniel Keane

Lebanon’s former prime minister Hassan Diab said on Monday had given up shares in a company he was linked to in the Pandora Papers, and denied wrongdoing.

A statement by his office said he had taken part in founding the company in 2015 and owned 17 shares, but that the firm had no activity since then and he had since resigned his management role and sold his stake.

It came after Lebanese news organisation Daraj reported that a number of top figures in Lebanon, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati, had embraced offshore havens. Mr Mikati said all of his financial dealings were in line with international law.

Daraj was one of several global media outlets to publish the leaked documents on Sunday.

“Is founding a company against the law?” Mr Diab said, adding that he reserved the right to sue anyone who tries to defame him.

Additional reporting by the Reuters news agency.

Hassan Diab has denied any wrongdoing after the publication of the Pandora Papers (The Associated Press)
Hassan Diab has denied any wrongdoing after the publication of the Pandora Papers (The Associated Press)

Pandora Papers leak ‘met with a shrug’ in Azerbaijan

17:43 , Daniel Keane

A leak of documents over the weekend showed Azerbaijan’s strongman, Ilham Aliyev, had secretly bought $540 million worth of property worldwide, including a central London home registered in the name of his then 11-year-old son, writes Borzou Daragahi.

But on the streets of Baku and other cities of the Caucasus nation of 10 million infamous as a kleptocracy, there were shrugs. Azerbaijanis have long been used to the idea of their leader as corrupt. They now broadly support him for leading a military victory over Armenia in a war last year.

“A majority doesn’t really care about it,” said Arzu Geybulla, journalist and analyst specialising in the Caucasus and Turkey. “I don’t think they’re going to rise up.

“Not because they don’t care about corruption. Everyone is so used to it. Everyone knows about it.

“The fact that people don’t care because they know there won’t be any punishment.”

Secrets revealed in the Pandora Papers met with a weary shrug

EU ‘must do more’ to combat tax evasion

17:55 , Daniel Keane

The European Union must do more to combat tax evasion, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.

Speaking during a visit to Helsinki, Ms von der Leyen said that tax evasion and aggressive tax planning was “completely unacceptable” following the leak of the Pandora Papers.

“We have in the European Union some of the highest tax transparency standards in the world, but as we see it’s not enough, more work is needed”, she said.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a network of reporters and media organisations, said the documents link about 35 current and former national leaders and more than 330 politicians and officials in 91 countries and territories to secret stores of wealth.

Jordan’s King Abdullah rejects claim in Pandora Papers

18:15 , Daniel Keane

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has said claims he used offshore accounts to disguise a £70 million hidden property empire were “defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation”, writes Bel Trew.

However, it comes as the monarch faces mounting scrutiny for lavish spending while also asking foreign aid to pull his cash-strapped country out of a recession.

The damning reports, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, claim the king used a network of secretly-owned firms to spend than $100 million (£70 million) on property in the UK and US, including houses in Malibu as well as luxury apartments in Washington DC, central London and Ascot.

It comes as King Abdullah’s popularity had taken a hit after his half-brother accused the country’s leadership of corruption.

“Any allegations that link these private properties to public funds or assistance are baseless and deliberate attempts to distort facts,” a statement from the Royal Hashemite Court said Monday.

“Such allegations are defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation as well as His Majesty’s credibility.”

Pandora claims come at sensitive time for Jordan’s King Abdullah

South Dakota ‘sheltering billions of dollars in wealth’

18:47 , Daniel Keane

The US state of South Dakota is sheltering billions of dollars of wealth being moved around in trust funds, according to documents in the Pandora papers.

The Guardian, one of a variety of media outlets to publish the documents, cites a state report which details a trust industry worth £273bn in assets in the state.

The newspaper reported that the files proved that the midwestern state now rivalled jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean for financial secrecy. Trusts allow investors to avoid or greatly reduce taxation.

South Dakota is named as the most popular location for wealthy individuals to set up trust funds, with 81 in total. Florida and Delaware are in second and third place, with 37 and 33 respectively.

Customer assets in South Dakota trusts have more than quadrupled over the past decade to $360 billion, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Mexican President demands probe after papers leaked

19:05 , Daniel Keane

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has called for an investigation into more than 3,000 Mexicans who allegedly hit assets in offshore tax havens.

It came after a string of world leaders and politicians, including a minister in Mr Obrador’s government, were named in the leaked Pandora Papers.

“There must be an investigation” to see if taxes were paid”, Mr Obrador told reporters on Monday.

“It is good that this is being made transparent and that the relevant authorities will act if there are crimes to be prosecuted.”

Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit, which monitors financial crime, has also promised an investigation in response to the leaked documents.

Tax petition nears 35k signatures

19:31 , Daniel Keane

A petition set up by a taxation campaign group seeking to close tax loopholes is close to receiving 35,000 signatures.

Tax Justice UK, an advocacy group for fairer taxation, said it had surpassed its target of more than 20,000 signatures in a day.

They urged members of the public to sign their petition “to close tax loopholes for the rich and powerful”.

Reacting to the leak of the Pandora Papers, Robert Palmer, the director of Tax Justice UK, told TalkRadio: “These leaks are about a system that has been designed and implemented by politicians.”.

US government ‘reviewing findings’ from Pandora Papers

19:47 , Daniel Keane

The United States is reviewing findings of leaked financial documents known as the Pandora Papers, State Department spokesman Ned Price has said.

However, Mr Price told a news briefing that he would not comment on specific cases.

The Papers did not implicate any major US businesses or political figures, though they did reveal the extent to which investors have made use of trust funds in states such as South Dakota or Delaware.

South Dakota and Nevada “adopted financial secrecy laws that rival those of offshore jurisdictions”, researchers wrote, according to NPR, which noted the “explosive” growth of such schemes in the US.

Additional reporting by the Reuters news agency.

King of Jordan says he has ‘nothing to hide’

20:10 , Daniel Keane

King Abdullah of Jordan has said he has “nothing to hide” following leaks of financial documents that showed he used offshore accounts to buy expensive properties abroad.

His comments came after a statement from the palace reacting to the Pandora Papers said the properties he acquired were not a secret but were not disclosed for reasons of privacy and security.

“Any allegations that link these private properties to public funds are baseless and deliberate attempts to distort facts,” the palace statement said

In a previously scheduled visit to an outlying provincial area where he met tribal leaders, Abdullah attacked those whom he accused of seeking to “sow discord and ferment doubt among us.”

He added: “There is nothing I have to hide from anyone but we are stronger than this and this is not the first time people target Jordan”.

Psaki: White House is ‘committed to transparency'

20:27 , Daniel Keane

The White House says President Biden is committed to bringing “transparency” to the US and global financial systems following the leak of the Pandora Papers.

Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “The President has pledged to work with partners and allies to address issues such as the abuse of shell companies and money laundering through real estate transactions, which was a part of this reporting.

“If you look at the President’s proposals in the Build Back Better agenda, he has been clear he wants to make the tax system more fair.

“He wants to crack down on people who are not paying their fair share, whether they are businesses or individuals. It is central to his policies.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Montenegro's President denies wrongdoing

20:53 , Daniel Keane

Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic has denied wrongdoing after the Pandora Papers leak claimed that he and his son allegedly established a trust and hid their wealth in a complicated network of companies.

Mr Djukanovic’s office admitted that he did establish a business trust with his son in 2012, while not in office.

However, after he became the prime minister later the same year, Mr Djukanovic transferred all the rights to his son, they added. While Djukanovic was one of the owners there had been no business transactions, his office said.

Montenegro is now seeking European Union membership and Mr Djukanovic is seen as a key Western ally.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Leaks show there is ‘one rule for the rich, another for ordinary people’

21:28 , Daniel Keane

The Pandora Papers leak shows that there is “one rule for the rich and another for ordinary people”, a senior official at Oxfam has said.

Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam International, told BBC World News that he hoped that the investigation would lead to policies aimed at curbing the secretive financial dealings of the global elite.

He said: “We have a situation where the richest people on Earth are paying lower taxes than a nurse or a cleaner.

“We need that money, we can’t have it tied up in dusty vaults in the Bahamas, in these secret spaces. We need to liberate that cash, spend it on schools and hospitals.

“Hopefully this exposé pushes further in that direction.”

Australian links in Pandora papers will be investigated, tax office says

21:56 , Daniel Keane

Australians linked to the revelations in the Pandora Papers will be investigated by the country’s tax office, it has been confirmed.

Some 400 Australian names are contained in the leaked documents, which also implicate 35 world leaders and more than 300 other public officials.

The Guardian, one of a variety of media outlets involved in the Pandora Papers investigation, declined to name any of the Australian nationals named in the files but said they included “senior figures from the finance and property industries”.

Will Day, the head of the Australian Tax Office (ATO), said there were “a range of legitimate reasons that someone may have for an offshore bank account or structure”.

He continued: “We know most Australians do the right thing.

“However, there are some who attempt to hide their ownership interests or financial misdoings through offshore arrangements.

“We are well-connected locally and globally in our efforts to fight financial crime. We will certainly look at this data set and compare it with the data we already have to identify any potential connections.”

Explained: Where are the American names in the Pandora Papers?

22:22 , Daniel Keane

To the surprise of some analysts and commentators, not a single American business figure or politician has been included in the Pandora Papers, writes John Bowden.

Over 300 public officials and 35 world leaders were named as part of the reports, which were released on Sunday by a variety of global media outlets. Nine countries have since promised to investigate the allegations revealed in the files.

While American businessmen appeared to have escaped the investigation’s gaze, the United States did not.

Experts told NPR that the US’ low tax rates (compared to other developed nations) contributed to the findings, which indicated that some Americans simply found no need to stash money abroad; others were found to be likely using companies whose finances were not revealed in the latest batch of documents.

And some Americans still use the same methods to hide assets when under investigation or facing lawsuits, the Washington Post found, though none were named specifically.

“The records also show how a firm in Central America became a one-stop shop for American clients, allowing them to conceal their assets while facing criminal investigations or lawsuits,” the paper reported.

You can read more on that in our article below.

Why are there no big American names in Pandora Papers?

Revelations are ‘bitter bill to swallow’ for Jordanians

22:51 , Daniel Keane

The revelations regarding King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Pandora Papers are a “bitter pill to swallow” for Jordanians who are “struggling” financially, an analyst has told The Independent.

King Abdullah has said claims he used offshore accounts to disguise a hidden property empire were “defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation”.

It came after reports alleged that the king used a network of secretly owned firms to spend more than $100m (£70m) on property in the UK and US.

“This is a very expensive country to live in: people are largely living on economic support from the diaspora,” said Bessma Momani, professor of politics at the University of Waterloo.

“I don’t think it is a surprise that the king has lots of foreign assets. But he will have to fiercely defend himself [against accusations] that foreign aid is going into his coffers.

“People are legitimately frustrated with their economic situation.”

You can read more about that story here.

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