A massive trove of newly released confidential records exposes lucrative tax havens for some of the world’s most rich and powerful figures, from Jordan’s king to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and spicy pop singer Shakira — and even an underground art dealer whose collections have been displayed at The Met.
Dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” the records consist of nearly 12 million documents detailing systematic tax-dodging by 14 firms that use off-shore bank accounts that hide the fortunes and assets of hundreds of wealthy clients.
Rich corporations and individuals used shell companies and secret trusts to hide assets ranging in yachts and jets, to mansions and insurance policies.
The records, the largest ever leak of confidential documents, were compiled and released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a worldwide coalition of media organizations.
Among those nabbed with off-shore accounts are 35 current and former world leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who had hidden $106 million from the purchase of mansions in Malibu and elsewhere, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Included in those secret Malibu purchases is a mega-mansion overlooking a stretch of coastline where the famous last scene from the 1968 movie “Planet of the Apes” was filmed.
Companies affiliated with Abdullah spent nearly $70 million on luxury homes in Southern California between 2014 and 2017 — but dodged taxes on the ritzy purchases, according to the report. His property empire stretches from Malibu to Washington, DC condos, and trophy property in London.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the records — but his alleged mistress is, to the tune of $100 million in “secret wealth,” the Washington Post said.
A shell company in the Virgin Islands purchased a ritzy Monaco apartment in 2003 for Svetlana Krivonogikh for $4.1 million, the papers show.
Krivonogikh has reportedly had a years-long relationship with Putin and has had at least one child with him, according to the outlet.
Also shielding their assets from taxes were Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Douglas Latchford, an indicted antiquities dealer linked to looted Cambodian artifacts — whose art collections have been displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — allegedly used the offshore accounts to conceal profits from underground art trading.
Latchford was charged in 2019 with illegally peddling priceless ancient Khmer Empire artifacts by falsifying invoices and other records.
Tony Blair, Britain’s longest-serving prime minister, avoided paying more than $580,000 in property transfer taxes by purchasing an $11 million London mansion by buying the property through shares from a British Virgin Islands holding company, the papers show.
Colombian-born singer Shakira, who is already in tax trouble for allegedly not paying her taxes in Spain, set up offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands to conceal assets, according to the Pandora Papers.
The documents also highlight $700 million worth of London property owned by the ruling family in Azerbaijan, the Aliyevs. Leader Ilham Aliyev’s daughter, Leyla, who is highlighted in reporting about the Pandora Papers, was previously married to Emin Agalarov, the Baku-born rock star son of a billionaire developer who has had close ties to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Emin Agalarov and Leyla, his now-ex-wife, previously spent time raising their two children in a mansion in Alpine, New Jersey.
Sports figures, including Canadian Olympic figure skater Elvis Stojko and Formula 1 race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, also made the lengthy list.
The records, with 2.94 terabytes of data, dwarf the Panama Papers in size.