Receive free tax updates
We will send you a myFT Daily Digest e-mail that rounds out the latest tax news every morning.
The hidden wealth of hundreds of rich and powerful people from around the world has been exposed in one of the biggest leaks of financial information in the world.
The financial transactions of dozens of world leaders, from King Abdullah of Jordan to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are set out in the leak, which shows how the richest people in the world use foreign tax havens to store and move their money.
The documents, which were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and which was shared with a handful of news organizations, not the Financial Times, was called the ‘Pandora Papers’. They come from 14 foreign organizations and contain more data than the Panama Papers, which were leaked in 2016 by the law firm Mossack Fonseca.
According to the news organizations, the newspapers show how King Abdullah II secretly bought properties worth more than $ 100 million in London, Washington and Malibu, California.
The king reportedly used a network of foreign accounts to buy three adjoining properties in Malibu for nearly $ 70 million between 2014 and 2017. The middle, according to the newspaper, contains seven bedrooms, nine baths, a gym, a cinema and a swimming pool.
The U.S. provided Jordan with more than $ 1.5 billion in aid in 2020 – though the king’s lawyers told reporters he had not abused aid or public money.
Tony and Cherie Blair, meanwhile, took over the ownership of a £ 6.5 million office in Marylebone in 2017 by buying a British Virgin Islands business owned by Zahed bin Rashid Alzayani, a Bahraini minister. The deal saved them a reported £ 312,000 in property taxes.
Cherie Blair said the Guardian there was “nothing unusual or obscure in this”, adding that she did not know the identity of the sellers before buying the property.
According to the documents, a Russian woman who was reportedly in a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin became the owner of a luxury apartment in Monte Carlo in 2003, just weeks after the birth. The apartment, which cost € 3.6 million and included two parking spaces and the use of a swimming pool, was bought by a business in the British Virgin Islands.
Neither the Kremlin nor the woman, Svetlana Krivonogikh, responded to the news organizations’ requests for comment.
Ilham Aliyev, 13-year-old President of Azerbaijan, is also reportedly mentioned in the documents, which describe how a network of foreign companies related to his family and associates traded about £ 400 million worth of property in the UK has. The family bought 17 properties, including a £ 33 million office block in London for the president’s 11-year-old son.
The Aliyev family did not respond to news organizations’ requests for comment.
Others who are shown to own foreign companies include Andrej Babis, the Czech prime minister who will be re-elected this week. The ICIJ said Babis was spending $ 22 million on shellfish business on a sprawling property known as Chateau Bigaud in the south of France.
Babies refused to answer questions about the purchase when confronted about it by a BBC reporter.
According to the ICIJ, more than 330 politicians and senior officials were mentioned in the documents – including 35 country leaders.
The data comes from 14 foreign service providers in Panama, the Seychelles, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, Cyprus, Switzerland and the UAE.
The documents also contain information about trusts in a number of U.S. states, including South Dakota, Florida and Delaware, which have become increasingly popular over the past year for billionaires who want to park their wealth.
South Dakota allows people to not only avoid taxes by putting money in trusts, but can also stay hidden from almost everyone – including the eventual beneficiary. South Dakota trust funds had assets of more than $ 367 billion at the end of last year, According to the department of labor and regulation of the state.