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What are the Pandora Papers and how do they compare to the Panama Papers?

A huge global investigation has uncovered widespread use of offshore bank accounts to hide wealth and has been linked to Russian premier Vladimir Putin, amongst others.

A huge global investigation has uncovered widespread use of offshore bank accounts to hide wealth and has been linked to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.
Mikhail KlimentyevMikhail Klimentyev/TASS

A group of more journalists have made public details from close to 12 million documents, revealing widespread tax avoidance, hidden wealth practices and money laundering amongst some of the global elites.

The huge leak, christened the Pandora Papers, was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC. The findings are the result of a massive global investigation which is thought to have included more than 160 media organisations and around 650 journalists.

The Pandora Papers investigation is even bigger than the Panama Papers scandal which emerged in 2016, and covered around 11.5 million files totalling 2.6 three terabytes of data. Today’s leak is the largest of its kind in recent years and comprises 11.9 million files and 2.94 terabytes of data.

The files show that some of the richest and most powerful people in the world have benefitted financially from dubious, and even illegal, accounting practices, which allow them to use secret offshore companies to hide the full extent of their wealth.

What are the Pandora Papers?

The documents analysed by investigators have been sourced from 14 financial service companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland, amongst other countries.

The Pandora Papers include:

  • Documents - 6,406,119
  • Images – 2,937,513
  • Emails – 1,205,716
  • Spreadsheets – 467,405
  • Other – 886,923

In total, the documents reveal the identities of the owners of around 95,000 offshore bank accounts, often used to hide wealth from tax authorities. The likes of the Washington Post worked to uncover the extent of these practices in the United States, demonstrating how the government, creditors and those exploited by the wealthy are being kept in the dark.

Who has been cited in the Pandora Papers?

The documents released includes references to more than 30 current and former world leaders, while more than 300 public officials are included in the files in relation to offshore companies. Numerous head of states have been linked to huge investments which were not properly reported, saving millions of dollars on taxes and other duties.

King Abdullah II of Jordan spent more than $106 million on luxury real estate in Malibu and Washington DC, amongst other locations. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis was cited in relation to the purchase of two villas, costing around $15 million in the south of France, which were hidden using an offshore investment company.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is believed to have secretly purchased property in Monaco, while Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family are linked to a huge number of high-end real estate deals, worth more than $500 million in the United Kingdom alone.


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