What are the Pandora papers? Secrets of rich and world leaders exposed in biggest leak in history

The so-called Pandora Papers contain nearly 12 million documents, tax avoidance, hidden wealth and money laundering by the King of Jordan and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. discover

The documents are intended to reveal details about the finances of the rich and powerful (

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The financial secrets of the rich and famous were revealed in what is believed to be the largest data leak of its kind in history.

The so-called Pandora Papers contain nearly 12 million documents that expose tax avoidance, hidden wealth and money laundering by some of the richest and most powerful in the world.

It reveals details of the hidden fortunes of 30 world leaders – including the secret £ 70 million empire of the King of Jordan and secret assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Monaco.

Some of the Tories’ biggest donors are said to be included in the revelations jointly released by the BBC and the Guardian on Sunday.

If so, Boris Johnson will be asking himself awkward questions at the beginning of the Conservative Convention.

A team of 600 reporters from the International Consortium of Investigated Journalists (ICIJ) is said to have searched through the huge data dump for months.

Mansions of the King of Jordan

The leaked data shows that the King of Jordan secretly built a real estate empire in the UK and US worth more than £ 70 million.

A network of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens has been used by Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein to buy 15 houses since he came to power in 1999.

In addition, the 59-year-old is accused of cost-cutting measures and tax increases.

His legal team said the properties were bought all of his personal assets, adding that it is common for people of such high profile to buy homes through offshore firms to ensure they have their privacy.

Blair stamp duty

How do offshore tax havens work?

The offshore fundraising process usually involves starting a mailbox company.

Shell or letterbox companies look like legitimate companies, but in reality they do nothing other than manage the money in them.

The real owner is hidden while the nominal management – usually an accountant or even the office cleaner – signs documents and lets their name appear on the letterhead.

This enables the real money man or woman to hide their money.

If the company was based in London or Berlin, the authorities could find out who owned it if they were sufficiently specific

Instead, they are usually based in offshore financial centers or tax havens like the Bahamas and Panama.

These countries have very secretive banking services and low or no taxes on financial transactions.

Are they illegal?

No – the practice is completely legal and there are many good reasons to use it, such as protecting money from criminal activity and trying to bypass currency restrictions.

However, the structures are prone to abuse by criminals and money launderers who can hide behind anonymous companies.

In addition, some would argue that making income more tax efficient is unethical.

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