The Pandora Papers, an investigation by 600 journalists in 117 countries has exposed 330 politicians across more than 100 countries. This has blown the lid off the biggest tax evasion and money laundering scandals in recent times.
The examination of 12 million documents by the International Consortium of Journalists has revealed names of some of the most powerful world leaders including, King Abdullah of Jordan who amassed $100 million worth of properties in the US and UK through secret companies, more than 700 Pakistani citizens including top ministers in Imran Khan's cabinet, former UK PM Tony Blair and heads of government in Ukraine, Chile, Kenya and the Czech Republic. From India - the names of Anil Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar, Nirav Modi, have figured in the list.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18's Parikshit Luthra, Fergus Shiel, managing editor of ICIJ said, "The off-shore world provides a shield for politicians, business people, uber-wealthy and in some cases, the corrupt and the criminals for their assets, so that tax authorities, voters and legal authorities can't see where their assets are and what they are doing."
Margot Gibbs, an investigative reporter at ICIJ said, "These shell companies protect the identity of its owner and that is the basic problem here. Shell companies exist all over. But in terms of the data, we see the most shell companies in the British Virgin Islands and that is partly a result of the fact that subsequent to the Panama Papers, they did a lot of work to identify their beneficial owners but in a lot of the jurisdictions, there have been a fewer efforts to identify the beneficial owners. So the countries that are hosting these shell companies still don't know who is behind them."
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