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pandora papers: Pandora Papers: Illegal riches of world leaders ‘exposed’

Nearly 12 million documents purportedly throwing light on the secret, ‘ill-gotten’ wealth of the rich and famous, including Indians, were made public on Sunday as part of the ‘Pandora Papers’ probe.
A trove of nearly 12 million documents purportedly throwing light on the secret, and allegedly ill-gotten, wealth of the rich and famous, including Indians, was made public on Sunday as part of the infamous “Pandora Papers” investigation. The website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which had been collating the data since 2016, termed the probe that enveloped politicians and billionaire business magnates across the globe “an offshore data tsunami”.
A total of 2.94 terabytes of files came from companies hired by wealthy clients to allegedly create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. The names that the papers claim to expose include 330-odd politicians of more than 90 countries — from people in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle to close aides and financial backers of Pakistan PM Imran Khan.
“My govt will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis,” Imran tweeted late Sunday. “Just like the East India Company plundered the wealth of India, ruling elites of developing world are doing the same. Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money,” he said.
According to a BBC report that quoted the latest set of leaked papers, former British PM Tony Blair and his barrister wife Cherie did not have to pay £312,000 in stamp duty when buying a £6.45m London townhouse. The couple had bought the property as an office for Cherie’s business in 2017 by buying the offshore firm that owned it, the report said.
The ICIJ also claims to have data on at least 500 Indians and their alleged links to offshore companies, trusts and foundations. Most of the Indian entities under the scanner had allegedly set up offshore bases with the help of a Panamanian firm. The Pandora Papers investigation also purportedly reveals how banks and law firms work closely with offshore service providers to design complex corporate structures. “The files show that providers don’t always know their customers, despite their legal obligation to take care not to do business with people who engage in questionable dealings,” the consortium’s website says.
Ahead of Sunday’s disclosures, the Panamanian government wrote to the ICIJ, saying it feared the new exposé would further taint its reputation. “The damage could be insurmountable,” the Panamanian government said in the letter, sent through a law firm. The letter warned against “any publication” reinforcing “a false perception” of the country as a possible tax haven “will have devastating consequences for Panama and its people”.

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