The Pandora Papers are 11.9 million leaked documents with 2.9 terabytes of data that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published beginning on 3 October 2021. The leak exposed the secret offshore accounts of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state as well as more than 100 billionaires, celebrities, and business leaders. The news organizations of the ICIJ described the document leak as their most expansive exposé of financial secrecy yet, containing documents, images, emails and spreadsheets from 14 financial service companies, in nations including Panama, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates, surpassing their previous release of the Panama Papers in 2016, which had 11.5 million confidential documents (2.6 terabytes). At the time of the release of the papers, the ICIJ said it is not identifying its source for the documents.
In total, 35 current and former national leaders appear in the leak, alongside 400 public officials from nearly 100 countries and more than 100 billionaires. As per laws of tax, some of the activities were legal but could not be justified. Some files were showing the date of 1970, but they were actually created between the years 1996 to 2020. The data included 130 billionaires listed by the Forbes, over 330 politicians, celebrities, members of the royal families and even some religious leaders. Among those names are former British prime minister Tony Blair, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, Montenegrin president Milo Đukanović, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, United Arab Emirates prime minister and Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba, Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso, family members of former Argentine president Mauricio Macri and his spin-doctor, Ecuadorian Jaime Durán Barba, and Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades. More than 100 billionaires, 29,000 offshore accounts, 30 current and former leaders, and 336 politicians were named in the first leaks on 3 October 2021.
King Abdullah II of Jordan is one of the main figures named in the papers, with documents showing he had invested over US$100 million in property across the UK and the US; they included houses in Malibu, California, Washington, D.C., London and Ascot in the UK. A UK company controlled by Cherie Blair was shown to have acquired a £6.45 million property in London by purchasing Romanstone International Limited, a British Virgin Islands company; had the property been acquired directly, £312,000 would have been payable in stamp duty. Tony Blair's name appears in a statement of joint income for the associated mortgage.
The papers also reveal how an office block owned by Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family was sold to the Crown Estate, the sovereign's public estate, for £66 million in 2018, netting the Aliyevs a £31 million profit. Another office block worth £33 million was sold to the family in 2009, and was gifted to the son of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, Heydar. According to Las Vegas Sun, "Members of the inner circle of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan are accused of hiding millions of dollars in wealth in secret companies or trusts". Supporters of former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko accused his successor Zelensky, who came to power on an anti-corruption campaign, of tax evasion. Elsewhere, close associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, like Svetlana Krivonogikh and Gennady Timchenko, were revealed to have secret assets in Monaco, and Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš, who had campaigned on promising to crack down on corruption and tax evasion, did not declare the use of an offshore investment company in the purchase of eight properties, including two villas, in Mougins on the French Riviera for £12 million. As a result of the Pandora Papers, more information emerged about Russia-linked, allegedly Kremlin-linked, donations to the Tories. Uhuru Kenyatta was also mentioned, despite being quoted in 2018 as stating, "Every public servant's assets must be declared publicly so that people can question and ask – what is legitimate?" Kenyatta and six members of his family have been linked to 13 offshore companies. The leaked list also includes transnational criminal organization leaders, such as Raffaele Amato, boss of the Amato-Pagano clan, a clan within the Camorra, dedicated to international drug trafficking. Amato used a shell company in the UK to buy land and real estate in Spain.
Other global names mentioned include Shakira, who was incorporating new offshore entities while going on trial for tax evasion; model Claudia Schiffer; Indian cricket player Sachin Tendulkar; Indian billionaire Anil Ambani; fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Modi; Alexandre Cazes, the founder of the dark web site AlphaBay, used to deal in illegal drugs; Pakistani finance minister, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and several of family members of Pakistan's top generals; and the CEO of Channel One Russia, Konstantin Ernst. Miguel Bosé, Pep Guardiola and Julio Iglesias are also named.
The leaked files come from 14 offshore service providers that help clients establish companies in secrecy jurisdictions.
|Provider||Records||Time period||Founding office location||Year founded|
|All About Offshore Limited||270,328||2002–2019||Seychelles||2007|
|Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee||2,185,783||1970–2019||Panama||1985|
|Alpha Consulting Limited||823,305||1996–2020||Seychelles||2008|
|Asiaciti Trust Asia Limited||1,800,650||1996–2019||Hong Kong||1978|
|CCS Trust Limited||149,378||2001–2017||Belize||2005|
|CIL Trust International||459,476||1996–2019||Belize||1994|
|Commence Overseas Limited||8,661||2004–2017||British Virgin Islands||1992|
|Demetrios A. Demetriades LLC||469,184||1993–2021||Cyprus||1966|
|Fidelity Corporate Services Limited||213,733||1998–2019||British Virgin Islands||2005|
|Glenn D. Godfrey and Company LLP||189,907||1980–2019||Belize||2003|
|Il Shin||1,575,840||1996–2020||Hong Kong||2004|
|Overseas Management Company Inc||190,477||1997–2020||Panama||1961|
|SFM Corporate Services||191,623||2000–2019|| Switzerland
United Arab Emirates
|Trident Trust Company Limited||3,375,331||1970–2019||British Virgin Islands||1986|
An ICIJ report focused on the Panamanian law firm of Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, or Alcogal, saying it was the "law firm of the Latin American elite", having created at least 14,000 shell companies and trusts in tax havens. Alcogal was thus mentioned more than any other offshore provider in the leaked documents.
For the uncovering of the papers, the ICIJ worked with journalists from 91 media outlets in 117 countries including news organizations such as The Washington Post, L'Espresso, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the PBS program Frontline, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Guardian, and the BBC’s Panorama.
The following media organisations worked on the investigation: