The Pandora Papers is an investigation based on more than 11.9 million documents revealing the flows of money, property and other assets concealed in the offshore financial system. The Washington Post and other news organizations exposed the involvement of political leaders, examined the growth of the industry within the United States and demonstrated how secrecy shields assets from governments, creditors and those abused or exploited by the wealthy and powerful. The trove of confidential information, the largest of its kind, was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which organized the investigation.

Here are the key takeaways:

1. Country leaders on five continents use the offshore system: The Pandora Papers expose the offshore holdings of 35 current and former country leaders, according to analysis by the ICIJ. The new records show more than $106 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., Washington, D.C., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of Kenya and the Czech Republic; and the acquisition of a luxury waterfront apartment in Monaco by a Russian woman after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Representatives of Abdullah have denied any impropriety or use of public funds. The Czech and Kenyan leaders did not respond to request for comment, nor did the Kremlin and the Russian woman.
The investigation exposes more than twice as many offshore account holders and political figures as the Panama Papers, an earlier ICIJ-led global study of offshore finance, and relies on a larger trove of confidential information.

2. Some American states have become central to the global offshore system: The U.S. government has condemned prominent offshore financial centers, where promises of discretion have long drawn oligarchs, business tycoons and politicians. But the Pandora Papers expose how foreign political and corporate leaders or their relatives moved money and other assets in recent years from international tax havens to even more secretive American trust companies, including those in South Dakota. The records also show how a firm in Central America became a one-stop shop for American clients, allowing them to conceal their assets while facing criminal investigations or lawsuits.

Offshore financial firms that responded to the ICIJ’s and The Post’s requests for comment issued statements asserting their compliance with legal mandates but declining to answer questions about their clients.

3. A global treasure hunt leads to an indicted art dealer’s offshore trusts – and the Met: The records reveal how a notorious art dealer, Douglas Latchford, and his family set up trusts in tax havens shortly after U.S. investigators began linking him to looted Cambodian artifacts. The Post and its ICIJ partners launched a hunt for antiquities that Latchford and his associates are suspected of selling and examined how offshore companies are used to conceal wrongdoing in the global art trade. Although some museums have returned Cambodian antiquities in years past, dozens tied to the indicted dealer remain in prominent collections, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the British Museum in London. These museums and others said that they take many precautions to ensure the items they acquire weren’t stolen, and that standards for provenance have changed over the years.

4. U.S. sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs hit their targets. While American officials say visibility into the private accounts of Putin insiders is rare, the Pandora documents show the reach of sanctions at a time when they are the overwhelming weapon of choice in Washington’s combative relationship with Moscow. Oligarchs – targeted for sanctions because of what the U.S. Treasury has called “malign” activity by Russia – have gone to great lengths to evade their effects, at times reconfiguring their holdings and shifting ownership of assets. Still, the measures took a toll on their targets and triggered losses that spread across the financial networks that include these Kremlin insiders.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: