On Sunday evening, a series of international newspapers began to release the results of one of the largest data leaks in history. It is a mine of documents known as Pandora Papers, a massive investigation into offshore companies and their role in helping figures of international importance – heads of state, oligarchs and politicians, but also entrepreneurs, celebrities and criminals – to evade taxes, launder and hide money around the world.
The leaks come from 14 legal companies (including the Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Panama, Belize, Hong Kong and Dubai, but also Switzerland and Cyprus) that specialize in hiding wealth. These would be cogs in an international ecosystem that would have allowed the movement of hundreds of billions of funds, protecting the identity of the true beneficiaries through various layers of phantom companies and intermediaries.
From Italy there are 4 politicians (even if the names have not yet been disclosed) in addition to the Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, the jailed mafia boss Raffaele Amato and the former Nazi-fascist Delfo Zorzi , known as Hagen Roi in Japan, a country in which he has lived for forty years.
Internationally there are 35 heads of state (both in office and not) and over 330 politicians and public officials, including Konstantin Ernst , Vladimir Putin ‘s “propaganda minister” (who allegedly hid 120 million euros thanks to a privatization supported by Moscow) and the king of Jordan Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein (who allegedly bought properties for 82 million euros between the US and the UK). The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev , the Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan and the Kenyan Uhuru Kenyatta , as well as the Chilean Sebastian Pinera and the Ecuadorian
have ended up in the sights of investigators for similar reasons.Guillermo Lasso . Singers Shakira , Elton John and Julio Iglesias and supermodel Claudia Shiffer were also involved in the investigation .
In Europe, the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis , who rose to prominence by declaring war on corruption and evasion, is making headlines, who a few days before the elections (8-9 October) was accused of having bought two villas in the south of France for about 15 million euro, without disclosing it. Babis immediately rejected the accusations, declaring that he had made the purchase in full legality and placing the blame on the local “mafia”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also in the spotlight, who allegedly transferred funds to an offshore company before being elected in 2019, and Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades , whose company allegedly obscured the name of the real owner of various offshore companies, a former Russian politician; President Anastasiades denied being aware of what happened (and so did the company).
Embarrassed also the Dutch economy minister Wopke Hoekstra – a “hawk” towards Italy who took sides against international tax evasion and avoidance and proposed to ban anonymous companies – shareholder of the offshore company Candace Management Ltd, based in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. And the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, who allegedly bought a London property avoiding a tax of 365,000 euros. As well as Mohamed Amersi , a major donor to the British Conservative Party who has already incurred a fine of over £ 800 million.
Pandora Papers collect just under 12 million confidential documents – text files, images, emails, spreadsheets – with a combined weight of nearly 3 terabytes. The entire investigation, coordinated for two years by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), also contributed 600 journalists in 117 countries, including Italy with Leo Sisti and Paolo Biondani de l’Espresso.
Photo: Inkyfada / ICIJ

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