What Are The Pandora Papers?

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Millions of financial documents that reveal the hidden assets and deals of some of the richest and most powerful people in the world have been leaked.

The leak has been dubbed the Pandora papers.

It’s a tell-all of where some of the world’s billionaires – including world leaders – have been hiding their billions, and it’s the biggest leak of offshore data in history.

So, What Exactly Are The Pandora Papers?

Nearly 12 million financial records have been leaked, which have been collected by a team of more than 600 investigative journalists.

The investigation was led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, and the leaked data was shared with selected media outlets including The Guardian, BBC Panorama, and The Washington Post.

The findings expose secret offshore affairs of 35 current and former world leaders, and more than 300 other public officials in more than 90 countries.

The King of Jordan, presidents of Ukraine, Ecuador, and Kenya, prime minister of the Czech Republic, and former British PM Tony Blair are a handful of the leaders who are named in the papers.

Big political donors, criminals, and even celebrities were also named in the papers – including singers Sharika and Elton John.

The leak shows how many of these high-profile people used shell companies to open incognito bank accounts and hold luxury times like multi-million-dollar properties, yachts, and even paintings by Picasso.

This isn’t the first time the world has been shocked by significant offshore data leaks.

The ICIJ was behind the big 2016 Panama papers and the Paradise papers in 2017.

But the new Pandora papers are the largest of the three leaks, because they show a wider array of offshore providers.

But How Does This All Work?

Basically, offshore service providers can be hired by wealthy clients to set up offshore structures and trusts in tax havens.

Tax havens are generally countries or places that have low or no corporate taxes, like Panama, Dubai, or the Bahamas.

In a nutshell, they can help rich people hide their money and avoid paying tax.

That doesn’t make setting up or benefiting from offshore entities illegal. In some cases, people do it for security reasons.

Even though they’ve been named in the Pandora papers, both Shakira and Elton John – for example – haven’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

But some experts think that it’s the secrecy tax havens offer that has made this kind of system attractive to tax evaders, money launderers, and fraudsters.

How Have People Responded?

The ICIJ think that the Pandora papers leak shows that the power players who could bring an end to the offshore system, actually benefit from it instead.

The ICIJ director, Gerard Ryle, referred to the Pandora papers as the Panama papers on steroids, and he expects them to have a bigger impact than other data leaks.

The papers have arrived in the middle of the pandemic, which – since it first emerged – has exacerbated global inequalities, and forced governments to borrow millions of dollars from taxpayers to cope with it.

According the The Guardian, there are about 400 Australian names contained in the papers, and The Australian Taxation Office has said it will investigate any links Australians might have to the papers.