October 22, 2021

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Pandora documents: 1,200 Belgians and several heads of government questioned for tax evasion

A hard drive with more than 11.9 million documents dated 1996 to 2020 has fallen into the hands of the International Federation of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), including Belgium, Lee Sawyer, De Digt and Knock. The media reported on Sunday evening that the documents, which contained some precious secrets, contained more than 29,000 users of shell companies, including 1,200 Belgians.

“It’s twice as much as it was during the Panama Papers that shook the earth already in 2016. Among these beneficiaries are 35 heads of state, 133 billionaires, a few football stars, major criminals, a few figures of the show and most strangers,” Lee Sawyer wrote in particular.

On the Belgian side, 1,217 Belgian nationals or residents of the kingdom have been identified. These thirty-three names were already in the Panama Papers. The profiles varied, saying, “From a retired pharmacist to a hash dealer who sells his wife glasses, his criminal record is already good.

International leaders and celebrities

In an international scenario, several leaders, including the Czech prime minister, the king of Jordan and the presidents of Kenya and Ecuador, have hidden assets in maritime companies for tax evasion purposes, the International Federation of Investigation said on Sunday. Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

According to these documents, King Abdullah II of Jordan established at least thirty maritime companies, i.e. in countries or territories with favorable taxation. Through these companies, he bought 14 luxury properties in the US and UK for over $ 106 million.

According to Czech Prime Minister Andrzej Bobiz, he put $ 22 million in the front companies, which were used to buy Fortress of Picot, a large property located in Maggins in the south of France. Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso has funded two US-headquartered trusts in South Dakota.

In total, ICIJ has established links between maritime assets and 336 top executives and politicians, creating nearly 1,000 companies, two-thirds of which are based in the British Virgin Islands.

The personalities on display include Colombian singer Shakira, German model Claudia Schiffer and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Dominic Strauss-Kahn and Morocco

There are also the names of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former French Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn who bought real estate in London through a company abroad. The former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) paid millions of dollars in consulting fees to companies through a tax-exempt Moroccan company, according to documents reviewed by ICIJ.

In most countries, these facts cannot be investigated. But in the case of leaders, the ICIJ treats some of them as anti-corruption discourse in parallel with investing in tax paradise.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his commitment to the fight against corruption in his country and said Kenyan officials need to be open about their heritage. However, according to the “Pandora Papers” section dedicated to him, the Kenyan president owns a trust in Panama and many members of his direct family have over $ 30 million in foreign accounts.

ICIJ is already behind the “Panama Papers”

Founded in 1997 for the American Public Center, ICIJ became an independent entity in 2017. Its network includes intelligence journalists and about 100 media partners in more than 100 countries and territories.

ICIJ became known in early April 2016 with the release of the “Panama Papers” based on 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm. They described the hidden assets of thousands of Mosaic Fonseka clients, including key figures. The shock wave caused by the release, in particular, led to the resignations of Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Kunlaxon and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The lawsuit was probably funded by director Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the film “The Landromate: The Panama Papers Affair” for the Netflix site.

In November 2017, ICIJ released “Paradise Papers”, which is based on a new series of documents, most of which came from ApplePay, another company that specializes in financial arrangements. The survey highlighted Prince Charles, Formula 1 champion Louis Hamilton or the Nike team, among the main names of maneuvers to hide assets and avoid taxation.

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