The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents that reveals hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, in some cases, money laundering by some of the world’s rich and powerful.
More than 600 journalists in 117 countries have been trawling through the files from 14 sources for months, finding stories that are being published this week.
The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC, which has been working with more than 140 media organizations on its biggest ever global investigation.
BBC Panorama and the Guardian have led the investigation in the UK.
What has been uncovered?
The Pandora Papers leak includes 6.4 million documents, almost three million images, more than a million emails and almost half-a-million spreadsheets.
Stories revealed so far include:
- the prominent Tory donor who was involved in one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals
- the King of Jordan’s £70m spending spree on properties in the UK and US through secretly-owned companies
- Azerbaijan’s leading family’s hidden involvement in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m
- the Czech prime minister’s failure to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two French villas for £12m
- how the family of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta’s secretly owned a network of offshore companies for decades
The files expose how some of the most powerful people in the world – including more than 330 politicians from 90 countries – use secret offshore companies to hide their wealth.
Lakshmi Kumar from US think-tank Global Financial Integrity explained that these people “are able to funnel and siphon money away and hide it,” often through the use of anonymous companies.
How much money is hidden offshore?
It is impossible to say for sure, but estimates have ranged from $5.6 trillion to $32 trillion, according to the ICIJ. The International Monetary Fund has said the use of tax havens costs governments worldwide up to $600bn in lost taxes each year.
Ms Kumar said it is detrimental to the rest of society: “The ability to hide money has a direct impact on your life… it affects your child’s access to education, access to health, access to a home.”
The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents and files exposing the secret wealth and dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and has led to one of the biggest ever global investigations. More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have looked at the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet.