Following the Panama Papers in 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published its Pandora Papers on 3 October. These papers consist of 11.9 million documents revealing the financial misconduct of tens of thousands of beneficiaries of offshore shell companies. The archives go back 50 years, though most of these shell companies were created between 1996 and 2020.
The leaked confidential documents – the largest leak in history – involve 300 public officials, 35 heads of state and 130 billionaires from over 90 countries. Familiar names include King of Jordan Abdullah II, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, and former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
While not directly mentioned in the Pandora Papers, Vladimir Putin is also a prime suspect for tax evasion: numerous financial transactions within his close circle suggest that the Russian president has many "front men" who hold assets for him. Putin, whose total fortune is estimated by some to be in the tens - or even hundreds - of billions of dollars, has rejected these accusations.
In a study published in 2020 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that 11.3 trillion euro were held in offshore companies.
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