The most expansive leak of tax haven files in history reveals the secret offshore holdings of more than 300 politicians and public officials from more than 90 countries and territories in the Pandora Papers.
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The trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files shows how presidents, prime ministers, royals, elected officials — and some of their family members and closest associates — stash assets in a covert financial system with the help of firms who establish companies in secrecy jurisdictions. Published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist.
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It may not be a coincidence that both the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and investor George Soros provide funding to the ICIJ and OCCRP via their highly controversial Luminate and Open Society ‘philanthropic’ enterprises.
Pandora Papers Secrecy Brokers
The Pandora Papers investigation lays bare the global entanglement of political power and secretive offshore finance.
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Owners of the 14 offshore firms whose records power the Pandora Papers leak include an art collector, former government officials (including ministers and the former attorney general of Belize), and a Russian translator. Together, these 14 firms have helped tens of thousands of clients from more than 200 countries and territories — including some notable and controversial figures — access and exploit the secrecy offered by some of the world’s most notorious tax havens.
All About Offshore, or AABOL
All About Offshore, or AABOL, is a Seychelles-based company-formation and management agent founded by Patrick Bonnelame, a native of the island country, and Peter VanderValk, an Australian who worked in the e-commerce sector for decades. The firm says it helps clients create tax-exempt shell companies in less than 24 hours and keeps their information confidential. Seychelles law doesn’t require a company to publicly disclose the names of its true owners.
In its first decade, AABOL managed nearly 4,000 companies and opened 20 to 25 offshore bank accounts a month, VanderValk was quoted as saying in 2018. He also said the firm’s clients were mainly high-net-worth individuals from Europe. Leaked AABOL records show that it also set up and managed shell companies for investors ‒ from small retailers to suspected fraudsters ‒ in Asia and Africa.
Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, or Alcogal, was founded in Panama in 1985 by attorneys Jaime Alemán, Carlos Cordero, Anibal Galindo and Jorge Federico Lee. The firm offers a range of services, from legal advice to litigation to advice on banking and finance law. Alcogal is a go-to offshore provider for politicians and wealthy people in Latin America and beyond.
Over the years Alcogal expanded its offshore services to the Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dubai, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland and Uruguay, according to the firm’s website. Read more
Ex-chief of Military Intelligence Rakesh Kumar Loomba
In December 2016, Lt General (retired) Rakesh Kumar Loomba registered Rarint Partners Ltd in Seychelles along with son Rahul Loomba.
Without mentioning his military credentials while doing so, a top former Army officer incorporated a Seychelles International Business Company (IBC) shortly after the 2016 release of the Panama Papers shone the spotlight on secret global money flows, an investigation of records of Pandora Papers by The Indian Express reveals.
In December 2016, Lt General (retired) Rakesh Kumar Loomba registered Rarint Partners Ltd in Seychelles along with son Rahul Loomba.
When he retired in 2010, Lt Gen Loomba held the sensitive post of Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI). Prior to that, he was the General Officer Commanding of 3 Corps.
An investigation by The Indian Express of secret records of Aabol, an offshore service provider based in Mahe, Seychelles, part of the Pandora Papers, reveals that Loomba’s company had a linked bank account with Mauritius ABC Banking Corporation, where father and son, as Directors of Rarint Partners Ltd, pegged the company’s “expected’’ annual deposit/turnover as $1 million.
Cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar
Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, who has been a Member of the Upper House of Parliament, along with members of his family, figures in the Pandora Papers as Beneficial Owners of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) which was liquidated in 2016.
Sachin, with wife Anjali Tendulkar and father-in-law Anand Mehta, as per an investigation of records of Panama law firm Alcogal which are part of Pandora Papers, are named as BOs and Directors of a BVI-based company: Saas International Limited. The data is part of documents from Panamian law firm, Alcogal, with their company being incorporated by LJ Management (Suisse). Read more
In February 2020, following a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, Anil Ambani told a London court that his net worth was zero.
The court observed that “there are questions about the extent to which Mr Ambani has any offshore interests, because if so they have not been declared”.
Records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal that the chairman of Reliance ADA Group and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cyprus.
Set up between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion.
In Jersey, Anil Ambani owned three companies — Batiste Unlimited, Radium Unlimited and Hui Investment Unlimited — that were incorporated between December 2007 and January 2008.
Batiste Unlimited and Radium Unlimited are owned by Reliance Innoventures Pvt Ltd, the ultimate holding company of ADA Group. Hui Investment Unlimited is owned by AAA Enterprises Ltd (Reliance Inceptum Pvt Ltd since 2014), which is a promoter company of Reliance Capital.
The Pandora Papers show that corporate lobbyist Niira (Nira) Radia is a “do not contact client” of corporate service provider firm Trident Trust Company BVI, who has been conducting her offshore transactions through London-based Sanjay Newatia, a former Credit Suisse banker.
Radia, whose name earlier figured in both The Panama Papers and The Paradise Papers, once again figures in the Pandora Papers with about a dozen offshore firms and a more detailed account of transactions executed by these firms including the purchase of a $251,500 watch in Dubai through one of her BVI companies. Read more
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s husband
On July 8 this year, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barred Allegro Capital Private Ltd and its majority shareholder, Bengaluru-headquartered Kunal Ashok Kashyap, from trading in the stock market for a year, ordered disgorgement of wrongful gains of Rs 24.68 lakh with 12 per cent interest for three-and-a-half years, and penalised them Rs 10 lakh each for insider trading in Biocon Ltd shares.
What SEBI or the regulatory authorities did not know then was that Kunal Kashyap is the ‘Protector’ of The Deanstone Trust, set up in New Zealand in July 2015 by Mauritius-based Glentec International, the ‘Settlor’. Glentec, which holds shares of Biocon Ltd, is 99 per cent owned by John McCallum Marshall Shaw, a British citizen and husband of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon Ltd, a Rs 7,360-crore biotechnology enterprise.
At the top is Deanstone Purpose Trust, whose trustee is Asiaciti Trust, a global corporate services company headquartered in Singapore. The Deanstone Purpose Trust was set up to hold the shares of a company, Deanstone PTC Limited, through a nominee entity Cyreal Ltd. Deanstone PTC Ltd, in turn, is the trustee of Deanstone Trust of which the blacklisted Kashyap is the Protector.
The Protector in a trust is appointed by the Settlor — one who sets up the trust or authors it — to supervise the trustee who administers the trust’s affairs.
In the case of Deanstone Trust, Kashyap, as Protector, was sought to be given powers to appoint and remove the trustee. He has been overseeing the trust’s assets since its inception in July 2015, according to Asiaciti. He, in fact, was Asiaciti’s contact for this transaction. Read more
Peter Kerkar of Cox and Kings
The now arrested promoter of bankrupt travel firm Cox and Kings Ltd, Ajay Ajit Peter Kerkar, owns two BVI trusts and is connected to at least half a dozen offshore firms, an investigation of records in the Pandora Papers reveals.
Most of these firms were set up by Kerkar and his business partner Shyam Maheshwari, non-resident Indian between 2010 and 2016. Maheshwari is a partner at Ares SSG Group, a global alternative investment management firm.
Kerkar is accused of money laundering and was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in November 2020. His firm, Cox and Kings, came under the scanner after the ED initiated an investigation into allegations of kickbacks taken by Rana Kapoor, former co-founder of Yes Bank Ltd. Cox and Kings owes Rs 5,500 crore to banks and financial institutions and was one of the top borrowers of Yes Bank .
Documents investigated by The Indian Express show the two BVI vista trusts —The Welcome Trust and The Castle Cove Trust — were both set up in March 2010 with Kerkar, his wife Emma Patience Tully, and their two daughters as the ultimate beneficial owners and Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Ltd as their trustee
Purvi Modi, Nirav Modi’s sister
A month before fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018, his sister Purvi Modi set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore.
Records investigated by The Indian Express show that the firm, Brookton Management Ltd, was set up in December 2017 to act as the corporate protector of The Deposit Trust.
Purvi, in the incorporation form for BVI companies, declared that the source of funds to be infused into Brookton were salary and her personal earnings as the creative director of Firestar, the firm that is accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank (PNB) through fraudulent letters of undertaking (LOUs).
These documents of the new firm and the trust set up by Purvi are part of the Pandora Papers.
Iqbal Mirchi’s Family
Despite a sweeping enforcement crackdown including attachment of properties worth hundreds of crores in India and Dubai, members of the Iqbal Mirchi family have been one step ahead of authorities with fresh offshore deals that link a retired Pakistan Army general as well, an investigation of data contained in the Pandora Papers shows.
Iqbal Mirchi was a trusted aide of underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim and was wanted by the Mumbai Police and the Enforcement Directorate. He was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1994 and died of a heart attack in London in 2013.
Since then, members of his family have set up a slew of offshore assets to manage their global property empire and in 2016, The Indian Express investigation of the Panama Papers revealed 17 such companies.
Five years later, the Pandora Papers add another crucial layer to the family’s offshore money trails: investments and transfers done by Iqbal Mirchi’s first wife Hajra Iqbal Memon and their two sons Junaid Memon and Asif Iqbal Memon.
Significantly, after the Panama Papers expose, the Mirchi family transferred several offshore companies from Mossack Fonseca to the Trident Trust of British Virgin Islands, just in time before the Panamanian law firm shut shop in March 2018. This was done as part of what is referred to in Trident Trust emails as the “MossFon” project.
The latest revelations deals with Akbar Asif, the brother of Iqbal Mirchi’s second wife, Heena Kauser, whose offshore dealings were also covered by The Indian Express in the 2016 Panama Papers. Read more
Popular Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff was the prime beneficiary of a trust set up in New Zealand by his mother-in-law, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal. He also made “substantial contributions” to this trust, which had a Swiss bank account and owned an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, records show.
On November 29, 2005, Claudia Dutt, the mother of Shroff’s wife Ayesha, formed Media Trust, which is registered with London Fiduciary Trust Company Limited (LFTC) in New Zealand, a trustee company that provides trust and corporate services. Media Trust was terminated in September 2013.
According to the memorandum concerning the trust, Shroff’s son Jai Shroff (Tiger Shroff) and daughter Krishna Shroff were the other beneficiaries.
The memorandum states that Shroff made “substantial contributions to the Trust” and wished “to be considered the primary beneficiary during his lifetime and his needs should be paramount”.
An offshore stakeholder in JCT Ltd, which has been declared as a “non-promoter” by the Punjab-based textile giant, is linked to its own chairman and managing director Samir Thapar, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal.
This offshore entity is registered in the British Virgin Islands, where Thapar is also the beneficial owner of another company, the records show.
A certificate of incumbency issued by Trident Trust (BVI) in September 2011 records Thapar as the holder of all 50,000 shares of Musk Holdings Ltd (BVI). In the same year, records show, he acquired Zanha International Ltd (BVI) as its beneficial owner.
Set up in 2009, Musk Holdings has stake in JCT Ltd and is listed as a “non-promoter” in official records of the company, including annual reports and RoC filings.
Vinod Shantilal Shah Adani, elder brother of Gautam Adani
The brother of billionaire Gautam Adani set up a company in the British Virgin Islands three years ago, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal. He now claims that the company has been “closed”.
The records show that Vinod Shantilal Shah Adani, elder brother of Gautam Adani, set up Hibiscus RE Holdings Limited in the British Virgin Islands in 2018. Vinod Adani, who is a Cyprus national residing in Dubai, is the sole shareholder of this offshore firm with 50,000 shares, and a director since May 2018.
While setting up Hibiscus RE Holdings, Vinod Adani stated in records that its purpose was trading and services in the global market, and that the current assets of the company were then estimated to be worth $10-15 million.
While Vinod Adani is a Cyprus national now, his son Pranav Adani is on the board of several Adani Group companies in India, including the flagship Adani Enterprises and Adani Total Gas among others.
Gandhi family friend Satish Sharma
Captain Satish Sharma, Congress leader, friend of the Gandhi family, and a former Union Minister who passed away in February this year, had offshore entities and properties abroad, the Pandora Papers show.
At least 10 members of Sharma’s family including his wife Sterre, children and grandchildren are among the beneficiaries of a trust, the Jan Zegers Trust — a declaration Sharma never made to the Election Commission while filing poll nomination papers.
According to documents of the AsiaCiti Trust, the Jan Zegers Trust was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 1995 — Sharma was then Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas – and later under the governing law of New Zealand.
Another trust, named the JZ II Trust, was incorporated in New Zealand in October 2015 when Sharma was a Rajya Sabha member.
He was protector of the two trusts and his wife Sterre a beneficiary. The documents suggest he was managing his properties in France and Singapore and transferring several payments to Sterre through bank accounts of third parties.
Most of the remittance orders had been categorised as high risk with a note: “reason for classification as a high risk remittance: Sterre Sharma is married to an Indian politician, Satish Sharma.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah II owned 36 front companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, records show. Shell companies were used to disguise the purchase of at least 14 luxury homes in the United Kingdom and the U.S. The properties included homes in central London, Washington, D.C., and Malibu, California, where he paid $33.5 million for a mega-mansion in 2014. All told, the properties were purchased for more than $106 million from 2003 to 2017. Records do not disclose the purpose of the king’s other shell companies, although some were said to hold “family wealth” in Canada and Singapore.
King Abdullah II’s private wealth manager, Andrew Evans, attempted to control information about the king’s ownership of the shell companies, according to 2017 emails. Evans asked lawyers at the firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, also known as Alcogal, about exceptions to laws that require company owners to disclose their identities to authorities. He suggested that one of his own Swiss wealth management companies be named in place of Abdullah.
Evans declined to comment. U.K. attorneys for the king said that he is not required to pay taxes under Jordanian law and that he has security and privacy reasons to hold property in offshore companies. The attorneys also said that most of the companies and properties identified by ICIJ have no connection to the king or no longer exist, but declined to provide details.
Former Prime Minister Abdelkarim Kabariti
The Pandora Papers reveal Kabariti is linked to two offshore companies that invest in bank and other stocks, bonds and real estate. The companies — Kuwait Projects Prospector Ltd. and Kuwait Wealth Holding Ltd. — were created in the British Virgin Islands in 2013. The documents show Kabariti is director of one and a beneficial owner of the other, and his wife and two children are beneficiaries of both.
Bank records show that, as of 2020, the BVI companies were shareholders of several financial institutions, including Jordan Kuwait Bank, its subsidiary United Financial Investments and Cairo Amman Bank. Leaked files show that in 2013, Kabariti had $1.5 million in accounts at Jordan Kuwait Bank.
Kabariti told ICIJ that he has not been “engaged in any illicit or illegal activities whether related to the two companies in question or otherwise.” He said that throughout his professional career, he has held executive positions in the financial sector and public positions, and that he opened the offshore companies “to avoid any appearance of impropriety” when he invested his own wealth.
“The fact that I, at some point in 2013, decided to use the two BVI companies has something to do with my desire to remain anonymous,” he told ICIJ. His intention was “to invest solely in Jordanian stocks of banks operating in the country,” he said, adding that neither of his BVI companies has ever been investigated by any authority in Jordan or elsewhere.
Former Prime Minister Nader Dahabi
The Pandora Papers show that Nader Dahabi was linked to an offshore company created in the British Virgin Islands. The company used a Seychelles-based nominee shareholder, shielding the identities of the firm’ true owners
Dahabi was a director of AND Holding Limited, which was created in 2014, with the stated purpose of investing in other companies. His son Amjad appears in the records as its beneficial owner. The company is listed as inactive in a leaked file dated February 2018.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš
In 2009, Babiš secretly paid $22 million for a villa named Chateau Bigaud in a French village near Cannes. He routed the money through shell companies in the British Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C., and a real estate management firm in Monaco called SCP Bigaud. The companies were still active when he entered politics in 2013, but the financial disclosure forms Babiš has submitted as a public official make no mention of the BVI company or the French property.
Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, a Panama-based law firm, helped Babiš set up the BVI shell company. In a 2014 client assessment form, Alcogal officers noted that there was a “high risk” that the company could be “engaging in money laundering and/or terrorist financing.” It was dissolved a few months later. In 2016, Alcogal filed a “suspicious activity report” with the BVI’s Financial Investigation Agency, noting that Babiš was being investigated in Europe.
President Ali Bongo
Bongo and two political associates controlled a shell company in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Pandora Papers documents, an arrangement that hasn’t been reported before. Bongo was the major shareholder in Gazeebo Investments Ltd., according to a February 2008 email from a Miami attorney who instructed lawyers at Trident Trust to incorporate the company. The email described Bongo, then Gabon’s minister of defense, as a “civil servant.” The Pandora Papers documents do not state the purpose of the company. The company’s other shareholders were Jean-Pierre Oyiba, head of Bongo’s presidential cabinet until he resigned in 2009 following a corruption scandal, and Claude Sezalory, a French-born Gabonese politician who was married to Sylvia Bongo Ondimba before she married Ali Bongo in 1989. Oyiba was not charged and denied wrongdoing. Ali Bongo was also the director of another BVI shell company, Cresthill Worldwide Ltd. Its purpose isn’t known, either. The two shell companies are no longer active.
President Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyatta is linked to a Panama foundation, while his mother and siblings set up at least six other offshore businesses and foundations to manage their assets. Most of the family’s companies were created before Kenyatta was elected president, and leaked documents show that some remained active after he took office. Those businesses, which are registered in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, hold bank accounts and real estate worth more than $30 million. Those assets are located in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Sassou-Nguesso owned a company that controlled diamond mines that are among the country’s most valuable assets. His ownership of that company, Inter African Investment Ltd., was not previously known.
Documents from ICIJ’s Pandora and Panama Papers investigation provide a look at a corporate structure designed to shield Sassou-Nguesso’s involvement.
Inter African Investment was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 1998, during Sassou-Nguesso’s second term as president. It kept an account with the London branch of Banque Espirito Santo and owned another BVI company, Ecoplan Finance Ltd. One of Sassou-Nguesso’s daughters, Julienne, served on Ecoplan’s board of directors. Alcogal listed the company as inactive in a 2018 database.
Ecoplan owned the majority of shares in Escom Congo, a construction and real estate firm that holds the rights to diamond mines in the country.
Prime Minister Patrick Achi
In 1998, while an adviser to Côte d’Ivoire’s minister of energy, Achi became the owner of a company based in the Bahamas, Allstar Consultancy Services Ltd., leaked documents show. Those records do not state the company’s purpose or report any assets.
Achi owned the company’s shares through a trust arrangement, which meant that his name was not recorded on official documents, obscuring his ownership. Achi created the company through a London-based offshore specialist and, in 2006, transferred management of the company to the Bahamas office of the law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal). In 2006, Alcogal became the registered agent of Allstar Consultancy Services Ltd.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Mikati is the owner of Hessville Investment Inc., a company created in Panama in 1994.
Mikati’s Monaco-based company, M1 Management SAM, helped facilitate operations of the offshore company. In 2008, according to the Pandora Papers, Hessville Investment bought a property in Monaco for more than $10 million.
The leaked documents also show that Mikati’s son Maher was a director of at least two British Virgin Islands-based companies, which the M1 Group used to own an office in Central London.
Responding to an email sent to Najib and Maher Mikatil, Maher Mikati told ICIJ and media partner Daraj that in 2005, his father bought a residence in Monaco by buying shares in Hessville Investment, the Panamanian company that owned it. According to Maher, the apartment’s previous owner created the company in 1994. His father still owns the property, he said.
“It is very typical to own real estate through companies rather than directly,” Maher said, adding that most of the family’s personal real estate is owned by companies.
Maher said such companies offer “flexibility,” including potential tax advantages, inheritance planning, and “liability ring fencing, if you decide to rent the property.”
Lebanese nationals, he said, use Panama and BVI companies “due to the easy process of incorporation” and not to evade taxes.
Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab
Diab is part-owner of a shell company in the British Virgin Islands.
In early 2015, after Diab left his position as Lebanon’s minister of education, he set up eFuturetech Services Ltd. The company’s purpose was “general trading and consultancy,” according to records from the Pandora Papers.
Diab’s co-owners were Nabil Badr, a paper and construction mogul who ran for parliament in 2018, and Ali Haddarah, the chief financial officer of a Beirut-based investment company, Chedid Capital.
United Arab Emirates
Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai
In recent years, Sheikh Mohammed has made headlines for having disputes with two of his daughters and his youngest wife, Princess Haya bint al Hussein. In 2020, a London court ruled that he had orchestrated the international abductions, forced return to Dubai and torture of his daughters Latifa and Shamsa. Princess Latifa disappeared from public view in 2018, and United Nations human rights experts publicly called on the UAE to produce “proof of life” in April 2021. Two months later, she was reportedly photographed outside the Emirates with a friend and a public statement issued in her name declared that she now travels freely. The same London court also ruled that Princess Haya, his sixth wife, endured a campaign of harassment by Sheikh Mohammed. She had escaped to England in April 2019 with her two children.
In several statements filed in U.K. courts, Sheikh Mohammed denied allegations of wrongdoing. As for his wife’s case, “I do not accept that Princess Haya is in any danger”, he stated. Regarding his daughter Latifa, “we feared that our daughter was in the hands of a criminal who might hold her to ransom and harm her. To this day I consider that Latifa’s return to Dubai was a rescue mission,” Sheikh Mohammed alleged. As to Shamsa, “her mother and I were extremely worried about her safety and wellbeing”, so “I emphasise that her mother and I jointly decided to organise a search for her,” the Dubai ruler asserted.
President Luis Abinader
Leaked documents show that Abinader is linked to two Panamanian companies: Littlecot Inc., which he owns with his sister and brother, and Padreso SA, of which the three siblings are shareholders.
Both companies were created before Abinader became president. Littlecot was incorporated in 2011, and Padreso was set up in 2014. Records show that they were created to hold assets in the Dominican Republic, but the documents don’t include details about those holdings.
Abinader told ICIJ that Littlecot Inc. holds a family property in the Dominican Republic. Padresso SA holds shares of six other entities that own properties and extensions of the private university owned by his family.
Additional documents indicate that both companies originally had bearer shares, which are not registered as the property of a particular owner. In 2015, a law took effect in Panama, requiring companies to disclose the identity of the owners of such shares. In 2018, an attorney for the Abinaders filed a form with the Overseas Management Co., an offshore services provider, that disclosed the names of the siblings as the shareholders of the companies, instead of “the bearer.”
About the bearer shares, Abinader said: “These companies were incorporated by consultants we engaged to acquire the companies in the selected jurisdictions. To facilitate business transactions with clients and reduce the companies’ administrative burden during incorporation, some attorneys tend to use bearer shares. Once any of the companies is assigned to a particular client, in our case, bearer shares are converted to ordinary shares and are included within the family structure in an expedited manner.”
As to why he owns offshore entities, Abinader said: “Up until the end of 2008, the Dominican Republic’s legal system did not have an efficient and updated corporations’ law. Using Dominican companies to purchase assets or exchange goods abroad used to (and still does) pose challenges given the lack of recognition that local companies have in foreign jurisdictions. On the other hand, our legal system did allow for foreign entities to perform operations and acquire assets in the country.
“In order to organize the most efficient structure for our family, we created a framework of companies in several jurisdictions: local entities for the holding of fixed assets in the Dominican Republic and perform operations in the country, and holding companies in foreign jurisdictions for assets and operations that could cover more than one jurisdiction and therefore facilitate the opening of accounts, transfer of shares, universal recognition of such entities, a strong system of corporate governance, among other benefits.”
When he became president, Abinader declared both companies and at least seven other offshore companies grouped under a revocable trust.
President Guillermo Lasso
Pandora Papers show that Lasso has had ties to 10 offshore companies and trusts in Panama, South Dakota and Delaware.
In 2017, Bretten Trust and Liberty US Trust were created in South Dakota with Trident Trust as trustee. Lasso authorized the transfer of companies held by two Panamanian private interest foundations named Bernini and Barberini, to those two new trusts. Under rules governing each foundation, monthly distributions would be made to beneficiaries after Lasso’s death, including $20,000 for Lasso’s wife, $2,000 for his children and $1,500 for his brother.
Lasso told ICIJ that he does not have “any relation regarding property, control, benefit or interest of any type” with Bretten Trust and Liberty US Trust. “Accordingly, I have at all times complied with the Ecuadorian law that forbids candidates and public servants from holding offshore companies, exactly as I have declared in my filings.”
Other Lasso-related offshore companies and private interest foundations that appear in the Pandora Papers have been dissolved: Bernini Foundation, Bretten Holdings, Da Vinci Foundation, Fundación Bienes Raíces, Nora Group Investment Corp., Pietro Overseas SA, Positano Trade LLC and Tintoretto International Foundation.
Lasso confirmed that these entities “do not have any legal existence.” He said that “all past use of any international entity” was legitimate. None of the offshore entities are related to his public service, he said.
President Milo Djukanovic
In the two-year window between Djukanovic’s sixth and seventh terms as prime minister, Swiss fiduciary firm LJ Management helped create a pair of trusts in 2012 in the British Virgin Islands. One named Djukanovic as the beneficiary; the other named his son, Blazo Djukanovic. The files say the source of funds for the trusts was “career earnings and investment proceeds,” but they contain no information about what assets the trusts held.
Djukanovic told ICIJ that he established his trust at a time when he did not hold public office and was engaged in private business. “I worked on the organization of business infrastructure with a view to starting business activities together with my son,” he said. Djukanovic said that the trust never had any business activity, that he did not invest funds in it and that it did not open any bank accounts.
The records show that Blazo also owned two BVI shell companies. One, Victoria Bridge Finance, received a loan partly funded by a Croatian businessman. The second shell company, Resilton Investments, controls a Montenegrin trading firm called Proenergy Montenegro, which public records show is co-owned by Marko Cosic, a board member of Croatia’s state-owned energy company.
Blazo told ICIJ that he set up the two companies when he was trying to start his career in business and that the loan was a business cost that eventually had to be written off. He said that Proenergy Montenegro was established to secure a license for energy trading but that it didn’t get the license and was closed. He added that when they started Proenergy, Cosic was a private businessman with no position in the Croatian energy firm.
LJ Management set up the trusts with the assistance of Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, or Alcogal, a prominent Panamanian law firm. In submitting due diligence forms to Alcogal for Djukanovic, in 2014, when Djukanovic was prime minister, LJ Management made no direct reference to Djukanovic’s status as a public official. The forms referred to his source of funds as “careers earnings and investment proceeds”.
Djukanovic told ICIJ that when he returned to the office of prime minister, he transferred his ownership of the Victoria Trust to his son, Blazo. LJ Management, now named Alvarium, said neither of the trusts held any assets. The firm said that by the end of 2012, it became clear that the trusts would not be used and the decision was made to terminate them, a process that was completed in 2015.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,
Leaked documents in the Pandora Papers trove reveal that Zelenskyy owned shares in an anonymous offshore entity, as did some of his business partners who are now close political allies. Documents show that Zelenskyy owned a stake in a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands called Maltex Multicapital Corp, which is described in leaked records as holding shares in film-production and distribution companies.
In March 2019 — just a month before he was elected president — Zelenskyy quietly transferred his so-called beneficial owner shares of the company to Sergiy Shefir, a close friend and business partner who would become one of his closest presidential aides in Kyiv. They had worked together in a film-production business before Zelenskyy became Ukraine’s president.
A document from June 25, 2019, shows that Shefir retained his stake in Maltex after he joined Zelenskyy’s administration. Shefir and Zelenskyy did not respond to ICIJ partners’ repeated requests for comment.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar
Leaked documents show that the emir is linked to two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, both of which own high-end London properties. In May 2015, Tamim’s Private Affairs Office incorporated a company, called Tharb, in Qatar to own real estate. The sole director is Sultan Ghanim Al Kuwari, a member of the emir’s office. The company became the ultimate owner of 1 Cornwall Terrace, one of the most expensive properties in London, through an elaborate offshore structure. News outlets had previously reported that Tamim’s mother, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, had bought the three properties that make up 1, 2 and 3 Cornwall Terrace for $187 million in 2013.
In July 2015, Tharb became the ultimate beneficial owner of Golden Satalite Ltd., which was incorporated in 2012. In February 2013, the deputy head of the emir’s father’s private office, Mohammed Al Qahtani, was listed as a director of Golden Satalite, and the emir’s private secretary, Hamad Al Attiyah, was listed as a shareholder. A subsidiary of Golden Satalite is another BVI company called LND Estates Ltd., incorporated in 2004, which directly owns 1 Cornwall Terrace. A June 2018 document put the property’s value at $110 million. The previous owner of the subsidiary was Swiru Holding AG, a company owned by a Swiss banker, Alexander-Walter Studhalter. Swiru Holding was fined $1.5 million by a French court for helping Sulaiman Kerimov, described in one news story as a “secretive Kremlin-connected Russian tycoon,” buy a luxury villa in southern France and allegedly evade taxes.
Kerimov’s lawyer denied any connection between his client and the company.
Former Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Records show that Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his family were beneficiaries of two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands that owned two villas at the Assoufid Gulf Club in Marrakech, Morocco. The Pandora Papers show that the approximate value of the properties was about $1.1 million each.
Under a complex ownership scheme, the villas are owned by two Morocco-registered companies, Tiglio SARL and Pacato SARL, which in turn are themselves each owned by a pair of BVI corporations, Tolland Consultants Ltd and Niteshade Corporation, respectively. Since 2013, the BVI companies have been owned by North Africa Holding Company, a Kuwait investment vehicle. Its majority shareholder is Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO), the Gulf emirate’s largest publicly listed investment company with assets of 33 billion. North Africa Holding Company is the owner of the Assoufid Golf Club development. KIPCO is “held for the benefit of the emir of Kuwait and his family”, according to leaked records.
The current chairman of KIPCO is Sheikh Hamad Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the late Kuwait ruler’s only surviving son. KIPCO’s 2020 annual report disclosed the fund’s ownership of Sabah’s two Moroccan companies and along with other companies registered in low-tax jurisdictions, including Guernsey, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, and others.
Former minister Nirupama Rajapaksa
Nirupama Rajapaksa and Nadesan together controlled a shell company they used to buy luxury apartments in London and Sydney, and to make investments, according to leaked files. Nadesan set up other shell companies and trusts in secrecy jurisdictions, and he used them to obtain lucrative consulting contracts from foreign companies doing business with the Sri Lankan government and to buy artwork.
In 2018, one of the companies, Pacific Commodities, transferred 31 paintings and other South Asian art pieces to the Geneva Freeport, an ultra-secure warehouse where assets are not subject to taxes or duties.
In confidential emails to Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based offshore services provider, a longtime adviser of Nadesan’s put his overall wealth, as of 2011, at more than $160 million. ICIJ couldn’t independently verify the figure.
Asiaciti Trust managed some of Nadesan’s offshore companies and trusts, with assets valued at about $18 million, according to an ICIJ analysis. The firm listed him as a politically connected individual because of his wife’s political position. Asiaciti kept the family as clients even after Nadesan was charged with embezzlement in 2016.
Ambassador Zakaria Idriss Déby Itno
Leaked documents reveal that Zakaria held shares in a Seychelles company, Odian Consulting Ltd., along with a cousin and an alleged arms dealer. The corporate formation firm All About Offshore (Seychelles) Ltd., or AABOL, created Odian Consulting for the three men in 2008, when Zakaria was 22. The documents do not provide additional details about the owners, why the company was formed or what assets it held.
The other shareholders were his cousin Yosko Youssouf Boy, a former assistant director of protocol under former President Idriss Déby, and David Abtour, who was once married to the sister of one of the late president’s ex-wives. The status of the firm is unknown, according to the Seychelles company registry.
As part of its 2018 West Africa Leaks investigation, ICIJ reported that Abtour helped deliver ammunition and helicopters to Chad’s army before a bloody conflict with Sudanese-backed rebels.
Princess Lalla Hasnaa
The Pandora Papers reveal that Princess Lalla Hasnaa owns a shell company in the British Virgin Islands, Oumaila Ltd. In 2002, the year it was created, Oumaila Ltd. bought a luxury house in West London, according to U.K. property records. The five-bedroom home, which is near Kensington Palace, is valued at nearly $11 million. Hasnaa made the purchase using funds from the “Moroccan Royal Family,” according to the leaked documents, which listed her occupation as “Princess.”
President’s family, The Aliyev children
The Pandora Papers provide a view of the startling scale of the Aliyev children’s luxury property investments. They were shareholders of 44 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands between 2006 and 2018. The records show the children owned five companies used to buy more than $120 million worth of high-end London properties between 2006 and 2009, many of which were later sold for vast profits.
Heydar Aliyev, the president’s youngest child, was just 11 years old when he became the shareholder a BVI-registered company that had just bought a $49 million office block in Mayfair, one of London’s most elite neighborhoods.
Seven months later, an offshore company owned by his older sister, Arzu, bought an office building just one street down. When the building was sold nine years later, the company recorded a $40-million profit.
And in 2009, a company owned by the eldest child, Leyla Aliyeva, bought a $13.5 million corner building behind London’s Oxford Circus, which has housed a string of businesses run by Aliyev family friends.
Starting in 2013, the children transferred shares in their offshore companies to their maternal grandfather, Arif Pashayev. The holdings were later transferred to a series of trusts based in the Isle of Man, a British dependency and secrecy haven.
Pashayev and two close associates bought further properties in and around London worth more than $500 million between 2006 and 2017, records show.
None of the Aliyev family responded to ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment.
Trident Trust began registering the Aliyevs’ companies in 2007 and remained the registered agent for the family’s companies for at least a decade.
The files show that even on the occasions when the children were named in Trident’s due diligence documents as “beneficiaries,” or owners, questions about whether they were politically exposed persons — which should trigger enhanced reporting requirements — were left blank.
Trident continued to act as the companies’ registered agent after several of them were transferred to a series of trust companies under the management of Suntera Global in the Isle of Man.
A spokesperson for Trident Trust said that each of its businesses was fully committed to compliance with all applicable regulations, and that it “routinely cooperates with any competent authority which requests information.”
Children of President Sebastián Piñera
The Pandora Papers reveal Piñera’s involvement in several offshore deals.
His businesses have provided all of the funding for two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands in 1997 and 2000. One of his sons became a director for one of those companies before it was closed in 2018.
A Chilean mining company in which Piñera’s children owned a 33.3% stake, used a BVI shell company to sell their shares to his close friend’s BVI shell company.
The deal, made in December 2010, nearly nine months into Piñera’s first term as president, was for $138 million, to be paid in three installments. But the sales contract contained a contingency:
The last payment, $9.9 million due Dec.11, 2011, would not be made if any steps were taken that would “irrevocably” prevent a mining project under consideration — for example, the creation of a nature preserve.
Four months before that deal was made, Piñera stopped the construction of a thermoelectric plant in an environmentally sensitive area near the proposed mine, saying that he wanted to protect a “nature sanctuary”. However, despite pressure from environmental groups, Piñera did not put any such protections in place. It’s unclear whether the nature preserve would have scuttled the proposed mine, or if the final payment went through. The proposed mine is still pending approval.
Just days before Piñera began his second presidential term in 2018, documents show that one BVI company connected to him, Parque Chiloé Overseas Inc. merged with the Chilean company, Parque Chiloé SA, and were subsequently absorbed by another Chilean firm, Inversiones Odisea, in which his four children are shareholders.
Nicolas Noguera, who manages the family’s investments, told ICIJ that Piñera did not take part in, nor was he informed of, any matter related to the mining project sale and that currently, neither President Piñera nor any any member of his immediate family control any company incorporated in the BVI.
Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle
Gennady Timchenko, Oil Magnate
In 2010, Timchenko’s investment fund, Volga Resources, became one of the largest shareholders in Novatek, one of Russia’s primary natural gas firms, extending Timchenko’s considerable grip on Russia’s oil and gas industry.
The Pandora Papers reveal a series of massive loans in 2007 and 2008 between anonymous offshore shell companies and a Timchenko firm registered in Cyprus. The Moscow Times reported that the firm, called White Seal Holdings, played a role in Timchenko’s Novatek investment.
The files show that a Cyprus shell company called Vidrio Enterprises Limited loaned White Seal $572 million between 2007 and 2008. Some of the repayment dates were a single year after the loans were made. In 2008, White Seal received an additional $150 million from another anonymous Cyprus company called Bodela Holdings. It is unclear who ultimately owns Vidrio and Bodela Holdings, and Timchenko did not answer questions about the firms’ owners. In 2007, White Seal received a loan of $320 million from a shell company called Lerma Trading S.A., registered in Panama. In 2015, the U.S. government sanctioned White Seal and Lerma Trading for “acting for or on behalf of” Timchenko. . Timchenko was also director of LTS Holding Limited and beneficial owner of Roxlane Corporate Limited, both of which were registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Lawyers for Timchenko told ICIJ that “our client’s unequivocal position is that he has always acted entirely lawfully throughout his career and business dealings.”
Konstantin Ernst, CEO of Channel One Russia
The Pandora Papers reveal that Ernst obtained a secret 23% stake in a billion-dollar deal, which he acquired with a loan from a Cypriot bank partly owned by the Kremlin-linked VTB Bank.
This occurred only nine months after the 2014 Sochi Olympics when Ernst became the shareholder of British Virgin Islands-registered Haldis Corp., records show. Haldis held a 23% interest in a Russian company, which bought 39 aging but valuable Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property from the city of Moscow.
The properties were sold at around half their taxable value through a Moscow government-run auction. A legal challenge by a local anti-corruption activist and a city council member alleged that the auction was designed to effectively exclude all but the partnership in which Ernst, behind layers of shell companies, held a stake.
The files reveal that Ernst’s company received a loan from a Cyprus bank partly owned by VTB Bank, which helped to fund his stake in the deal. The bank requested that records documenting Ernst’s connection to the loan not be shared with the British Virgin Islands government records.
Another BVI company he owned, D’Zandra Holdings Limited, owned a painting worth $6.2 million by the 18th century neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David.
In an email to the ICIJ, Ernst said he had never made a secret of his involvement in the real estate project and denied any suggestion that his involvement in the project was compensation for his work on the Olympic ceremonies. He declined to answer ICIJ’s questions on the basis that ICIJ was “not an independent investigation company but an organisation commissioned by the US secret services.”
The Pandora Papers reveal that Krivonogikh is the owner of an offshore company that bought a $4 million Monaco apartment in the fall of 2003, the year Krivonogikh gave birth to the daughter reportedly fathered by Putin.
The British Virgin Islands-registered company, Brockville Development Ltd., used so-called nominee, or stand-in, shareholders provided by a Monaco wealth management firm, Moores Rowland. Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire in Putin’s inner circle, was also a client of Moores Rowland and has used one of the same nominee shareholders. Timchenko’s lawyers suggested that any connection between him and Krivonogikh was “misconceived”.
Union of Comoros
Nour EL Fath Azali, Private adviser to the president
Nour Azali owns Olifants Ltd., a company created in the United Arab Emirates. The Pandora Papers do not reveal the company’s purpose, but show it received invoices in 2018 and 2019, when Azali became an adviser to his father.
In an interview with ICIJ’s Comorian media partner, Azali said he created the company before entering politics. Olifants Ltd. was intended to offer consulting and advisory services, Azali said, but he closed it in 2019 and the company never had any business. “The UAE is the center of the world,” Azali said, explaining his choice of jurisdiction.
Former Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Leaked documents show that Khalifa owned a shell company that held assets worth $60 million. The funds came from the “royal family fortune,” according to the handwritten notes on those documents. The company, Minto Assets Corp., was created in the British Virgin Islands in 1996 and held investments in Switzerland and Germany.
Member of parliament Nir Barkat
Through a set of three companies, Barkat held shares in a British Virgin Islands shell company that owns the Russian, British, and Israeli subsidiaries of the online trading platform eToro.
Barkat acquired his shares in eToro in 2007 through his company, Nir Barkat Ltd. Leaked records dated years later show that Barkat held shares in eToro through BRM Group, the Israeli private equity firm that he co-founded in 1988,Barkat’s wife, Beverly, also held a small, indirect stake in the BVI company through Nir Barkat Ltd.
Barkat told ICIJ’s media partner, Shomrim, that he holds shares in global technology companies through a blind trust in which he is not involved. The blind trust was set up in accordance with Israeli laws, he said. Barkat said the decision to create a eToro in the BVI was made by company directors.
Former minister Mohsen Marzouk
The Pandora Papers reveal that Marzouk bought a shell company in the British Virgin Islands while he was Essebsi’s campaign adviser.
In December 2014, days before the election, Marzouk sent an email to the offshore provider SFM to make the purchase. He appointed a nominee director, a tactic that can be used to conceal the identity of a BVI company’s owner from the public and regulators.
Marzouk’s company, Eagle One Investments Holdings Ltd., was created to “manage family wealth, provide a source of income for retirement and create an endowment fund for my children’s education,” according to a hand-written record in the leaked files. Marzouk wrote that the firm’s funds had no connection to politics, adding that revenue came from a “20 year career in international consulting,” lectures and advising NGOs. Marzouk dissolved the company in 2016, one month after Tunisian journalists at Inkyfada revealed as part of the Panama Papers investigation a separate attempt by Marzouk to create a shell company.
In an interview with ICIJ media partner Inkyfada, Marzouk said that the company was never operational. “The idea behind the creation of the company was preparation for my plans to leave politics and resume my previous work,” he said. Marzouk said he earned most of his income from sources outside Tunisia. There was no link between the Panama Papers revelations and the closure of the shell company, Marzouk said, adding that he chose a nominee director because he did not intend to be one himself.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair
In early 2017, Tony and Cherie Blair registered a U.K. company named Harcourt Ventures Ltd., a property rental firm, according to British property records.
That summer, the company bought a British Virgin Islands entity named Romanstone International Ltd., which owned a building in London valued at $8.8 million, according to property records.
Romanstone International had been a subsidiary of a real estate firm owned by the family of Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, Bahrain’s industry and tourism minister. The Pandora Papers for the first time reveal the link between the al-Zayanis and the London property.
By acquiring a company that owns a property, instead of acquiring the property directly, the Blairs were not required to pay property taxes, according to experts consulted by The Guardian, an ICIJ partner. The arrangement — which is legal — allowed them to save more than $400,000, according to The Guardian.
In a statement to the BBC, an ICIJ partner, a spokesperson for the Blairs said that they “were aware” that land tax “is not payable in respect of the purchase of shares” and that the seller requested “to structure the transaction this way.”
The London building now hosts the headquarters of Cherie Blair’s law firm. The BVI company, Romanstone International, was closed in 2018. The U.K. company, which now owns the building, remains active.
When reached for comment, Cherie Blair said that her husband was not involved in the transaction and that “all the arrangements made were for the express purpose to bring the company and the building back into the UK tax and regulatory regime and all taxes have been paid ever since and all accounts openly filed in accordance with the law.”
She also said that she “did not want to be the owner of a BVI company” and that the “seller for their own purposes only wanted to sell the company.”
Through their lawyer, the al-Zayanis said that their “companies have complied with all U.K. laws past and present” and that Minister al-Zayani is “one of several beneficiaries of the Companies.”
Alcogal said that neither Tony nor Cherie Blair were their clients. “The owner of the company in our records transferred its ownership, and the new owner appointed another Registered Agent,” a spokesperson for the Panamanian law firm told ICIJ.
Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili
Ivanishvili established 12 companies in the British Virgin Islands between 1998 and 2016 that listed Alcogal as registered agent at some point..
The documents provide limited information about his companies’ assets and operations. One company, Silverpot Holdings Ltd., was set up to hold “publicly listed companies through a brokerage account.” Another entity, Brighton Corporate Ltd., was established to “finance via debt equity certain projects” of the Georgia Co-Investment Fund, which invests in hydropower plants, hotels and greenhouses, among other projects in the country. An October 1, 2013 press release states that the fund was about to close a $6 billion investment round and was “created with Mr. Bidzina Ivanishvili’s initiative” and support from Georgian and foreign Investors.”
BVI’s financial regulators sent a letter of inquiry to Alcogal in October 2011, asking about Finseck, an entity created for Ivanishvili. In response, Alcogal said the company was linked to a trust Ivanishvili established for the benefit of his children. The leaked documents do not provide information on what prompted the request or how it was resolved.
Minister of Finance Siniša Mali
The Pandora Papers show that Mali created two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands in 2011 and used the companies to purchase apartments.
He previously denied owning those companies.
In July 2011, Mali became a shareholder in Etham Invest & Finance Corp., which held shares in Erul 11 EOOD, a company that offers “holiday houses and villas on Bulgarian seacoast,” according to the leaked documents.
One month later, Mali created and became the shareholder of Brigham Holding and Finance Inc. The company owned shares in another Bulgarian company, Erma 11 EOOD. In August 2014, Mali transferred his shares in Brigham to a Bulgarian lawyer and resigned as director.
Mali was also director of Alessio Investments Ltd. in the BVI and Exetera Overseas SA in Panama, according to records.
Former minister and EU commissioner John Dalli
In 2006, Dalli set up Westmead Overseas Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands. Dalli’s two daughters replaced him as directors of the shell company in 2008, after he was appointed minister for social policy.
Dalli told ICIJ that he created the company to hold equity in a project that “never materialised, and the company was not used.” He declined to elaborate. He added that his daughters “exited” the company in 2009.
Public records reviewed by ICIJ and the Times of Malta show that Dalli didn’t disclose his interest in the BVI company to the Maltese Parliament,as recommended by the code of ethics for legislators. Dalli said he didn’t disclose the company because it was “inactive.”
Westmead Overseas was closed in 2013, according to BVI registry records.
Former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Former IMF chief
Strauss-Kahn used a Morocco-based company, Parnasse International Sarlau, to take in millions of dollars in consulting fees from such clients as Rosneft (an oil company partly owned by the Russian state) and the Chinese aviation conglomerate HNA Group, according to leaked financial statements from 2016 and 2017. Much of his earnings were tax-free, the news site L’Obs reported.
In 2018, Strauss-Kahn set up another consulting firm, in the United Arab Emirates, after the tax exemptions for his Casablanca company expired, according to Le Monde and Premieres Lignes, ICIJ’s partners in France.
Strauss-Kahn created his UAE firm, Parnasse Global Ltd., with the help of offshore service provider SFM. According to the incorporation papers for Parnasse Global, its focus was on “security technology for private companies” in the Persian Gulf region.
Former Prime Minister Aires Ali
Leaked documents reveal that Ali worked with two firms to help obscure his connection to Stonelake Enterprises Ltd. in the Seychelles.
In September 2012, less than a month before Ali was dismissed as prime minister, he formed the shell company through a tax consultancy based in Switzerland. The consultancy worked with a Panama-based law firm, Alcogal, which provided the shareholder and directors of Stonelake Enterprises Ltd. By using “nominees,” Ali could shield his identity as the shell company’s owner.
Leaked records in the Pandora Papers do not state the company’s purpose.
In 2013, he and his daughter, Judite Tânia Baptista Ali, authorized the company to open a bank account with a Lisbon-based wealth management firm.
Former Prime Minister Martin Rushwaya
In April 2006, when Batbold was Mongolia’s trade minister, he created the Quantum Lake Trust in Guernsey, an island tax haven in the English Channel.
The trust owned the BVI shell company, Premier Edge Ltd. Batbold became the company’s first shareholder in 2005.
In 2006, Premier Edge Ltd bought two luxury apartments in the same London building for more than $8.8 million, according to public records.
In response to ICIJ’s questions, an adviser to Batbold said the former prime minister legally purchased and sold property and complied with Mongolian laws when owning and investing through offshore companies.
“Batbold made no secret of the fact that his family lived in the flats in London during the time when the family members studied and worked there, long before the alleged ‘illegal kickbacks from mining,’” said the adviser, who called those allegations false.
Security minister Jim Muhwezi
Muhwezi owned and held shares in two shell companies.
In February 2015, Muhwezi became one of three shareholders of the British Virgin Islands company Audley Holdings Ltd. The company’s directors authorized it to manage bank accounts in Europe.
In 2015, an Israeli businessman sued Muhwezi’s co-shareholders in a Ugandan court, disputing the transfer of shares in a similarly-named company, Audley Ltd, which owns two casinos in Uganda. The lawsuit did not name Muhwezi, and the court later ruled to stop the share transfer. Audley Holding Ltd. is the holding company of Audley Ltd. in Uganda, a company shareholder told ICIJ media partner, The Daily Monitor.
Regulators closed Audley Holdings Ltd. in 2016 for failing to pay registration fees. But in 2018, the Panamanian law firm Alcogal, which set up the company, reported Audley Holdings and its shareholders, including Muhwezi, to BVI regulators in a suspicious activity report after a database search revealed the eleven-year-old embezzlement allegations against him. Alcogal told regulators it resigned as the BVI’s company’s registered agent.
Under BVI law, firms like Alcogal must keep records about their clients for five years after the business relationship ends. It’s unclear what, if any, due diligence Alcogal conducted before accepting Muhwezi as a client in 2015.
Alcogal said that it complies with requirements where it operates and “performs enhanced due diligence on a client who is determined to be a high-risk customer, regardless of the nature of the relationship or service.”
Muhwezi also owned Sukari Loma Investment Holdings Ltd, created in Cyprus in 2013 through the offshore provider SFM. The company provided “financial services,” Muhwezi wrote on a signed beneficial owner statement, adding that its funds came from “salary savings” and his hotel and radio stations. It was closed in 2015.
When contacted by an ICIJ reporter, Muhwezi said, “I don’t know what you are talking about and I can’t make any reply.”
Former President César Gaviria
Leaked files show business dealings between companies created by Gaviria and his close relatives in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
Gaviria and his brother Luis Fernando, former deputy minister of the environment and current rector of the public Technological University of Pereira, are listed in Pandora Papers and in corporate registry records as directors of MC2 Internacional SA, a Panamanian-registered company that has reported share capital of $600,000 since its 2010 founding. At its founding, several Panama-based shell companies served as its shareholders.
In 2006, the two brothers also founded MC2 Limitada, a natural-gas-distribution company registered in Bogota. Gaviria became its president in 2007 and owned 58% of its shares, according to corporate records. In 2010, a Panamanian company, MC2 Internacional, became the sole shareholder of the Colombian corporation. The latest registry documents show that the gas company is now named MC2 SAS ESP and owned by Gaviria and four corporations, including MC2 Internacional.
The leaked files also reveal that in 2012 the shareholders of Hutton Assets Ltd., which was a BVI firm created in 2001, were Gaviria’s brother Luis Fernando Gaviria and the former president’s children. Hutton Assets is the company about which El Espectador and Connectas reported in 2019 that César Gaviria was holding a majority stake. Hutton Assets has the same Bogota business address as MC2 SAS ESP. The Pandora Papers do not state its purpose.
César Gaviria did not respond to repeated requests for comment from ICIJ and its Colombian media partners, CONNECTAS and El Espectador. Gaviria’s brother Luis Fernando Gaviria declined to answer ICIJ’s questions. In an email, he repeated several times that “the confidentiality of the financial and tax information of Colombian citizens is protected by law.”
Simón Gaviria, son of the former president, said the kidnapping of his uncle Juan Carlos Gaviria and the kidnapping and murder of an aunt, Liliana Gaviria, drove the incorporation of Hutton Assets, “with the aim of providing financial security against future kidnappings” of Gaviria family members. In both cases, he said, the kidnappers demanded ransom. “I did not receive any type of economic benefit from the company, neither salaries nor dividends” Simón Gaviria told ICIJ. “The tax payments are in line with Colombian and origin legislations.”
Former president Andrés Pastrana
Andrés Pastrana and his wife became registered owners of the Panamanian company Vanguard Investment Inc. sometime before the end of 2016, according to the Pandora Papers.
Leaked documents from 2016 say the purpose of the Panamanian company was to own a U.S. bank account holding an estimated $600,000. Public records list so-called nominees, or stand-ins, in corporate positions. The company remained active as of 2021.
Andrés Pastrana told ICIJ and its Colombian media partners, CONNECTAS and El Espectador, that the couple had set up the Panamanian company in 2005 and that in 2016, the company’s shares were transferred to another company, Salatina Puyana y Cía S. en C. to comply with post-Panama Papers regulations. Salatina Puyana is a Colombian-registered company owned by the former president, his wife and his three children.
He said that before 2016, Panamanian law allowed the use of so-called bearer shares but that afterward, bearer shares, which can be owned anonymously “had to be converted into registered shares.”
Pastrana said the objective of the Panamanian company “was to make Colombian investments abroad” and that the assets were declared to Colombia’s central bank, the Banco de la República.
“Salatina Puyana y Cía. S. en C. has declared the assets held by the company Vanguard Investment Inc. including the bank account and its returns in investments,” Pastrana said.
Former President Porfirio Lobo
The Pandora Papers reveal that Lobo set up three companies in Panama, two of which were created while he was president, with help from the law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo and Lee (also known as Alcogal). He set up Fandrow Investments SA in 2005, during the final weeks of his first presidential campaign and while he was the head of the Honduran National Congress. (He lost the presidential race by a narrow margin.)
Fandrow initially held only Lobo’s stock and real estate investments, but later became the owner of two companies that Lobo created in 2010, during the first year of his presidency. The three companies were suspended for nonpayment of fees to Panama’s corporate registry — one in 2019 and the other two in 2021.
Lobo told ICIJ media partner Contracorriente that he created the two companies — Foxearth Investments SA and Tyrell Overseas SA — in 2010, after receiving two $550,000 loans from a Panamanian bank, which he then used to buy two apartments in Tegucigalpa.
“The interest rate here [in Honduras] was 10% and there [in Panama] it was like 5% or 4%, and additionally here they charge taxes on the deposited funds and there they don’t,” Lobo said. “One looks for the opportunity, it is not that I am hiding anything, one seeks to place his assets to obtain some capital gain,” he added.
Lobo said that he doesn’t remember whether he specifically disclosed the Panamanian companies to the Honduran treasury when he held public office.
“I declared everything I had to declare to the Court of Accounts [Tribunal de Cuentas],” he said, but he added that he had nothing to declare that would be of interest to tax authorities.
“What did these companies have? Nothing. One does not declare a company, but the assets it has. If the company has assets, yes, but if it has no assets, they [the tax authorities] are not interested,” he claimed.
Files also show that Lobo’s wife, Rosa Elena Bonilla, owned a Panamanian company and that one of his children, Jorge Dmitrov, a congressman and former agriculture minister, filed paperwork with the offshore provider OMC to set up another Panamanian company, Inversiones Napoc SA, in 2015.
Bonilla’s lawyer said that Bonilla could not answer any questions due to health issues and that he could not respond to such questions, because he was not aware of her involvement in the Panamanian company, Portalegre Overseas SA.
Jorge Dimitrov told ICIJ that he knew nothing about Inversiones Napoc and declined to answer questions.
In 2016, Alcogal tried to transfer Lobo’s companies to OMC, but OMC was not listed as the registered agent in the Panamanian corporate registry until their suspension.
Porfirio Lobo explained in an interview with Contracorriente that after the publication of the Panama Papers, Alcogal decided that it would not serve as his companies’ registered agent. “When the Panama Papers were published, everyone became surly, no one wanted to deal with PEPs [politically exposed persons],” Lobo said.
Former President Alfredo Cristiani
The Pandora Papers reveal that Cristiani was the owner, co-owner, director or president of at least 15 offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama. The first was set up in 1992, while he was president. Records show that seven companies were active until at least 2018. Several members of his family were co-owners or officers of most of his companies.
From 2005 to 2009, Cristiani was a director of a Panamanian company, Pretoria Capital Corp., along with Mauricio Samayoa, a business partner. In 2014, prosecutors accused Samayoa and three Arena members of diverting $10 million in donations for victims of the country’s 2001 earthquakes to the party’s account at Banco Cuscatlán. At the time, Samayoa was head of the bank and Cristiani’s business partner. Cristiani was never implicated, and Samayoa died in 2015, but a civil case against Samayoa’s estate is pending.
In June 2008, another company in which Cristiani was a shareholder, Marmot Holdings, authorized a payment of $789,012 to Zermatt Trading, a firm that he and his family controlled. Both companies were registered in Panama. The files do not provide additional information about this payment.
Cristiani declined to answer ICIJ’s detailed questions. “He can only assure you that all of his business dealings and everything he has ever done have been in full compliance with the law,” a legal representative for Cristiani said.
Former President Francisco Flores
The Pandora Papers show that Francisco Flores was the beneficial owner of a pair of offshore companies, one created in Panama in 2005 and the other in the British Virgin Islands in 2006 after his presidency ended in 2004.
International Consultants In Trade and Competitiveness SA (ICTC) was registered in Panama in 2005. Representatives of the Panamanian law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, or Alcogal, served as directors, which had the effect of concealing the company’s ownership. Leaked files show Flores visited Alcogal’s Panama headquarters in June 2012.
In 2015, the Salvadoran media outlet El Faro reported that Salvadoran financial authorities had found transfers of $874,485 from a bank account of ICTC’s at Multibank Inc. in Panama to an account owned by Flores at a different bank. The Pandora Papers show Flores owned an account at Multibank Inc. by November 2011.
Flores was also owner of International Consultants in Economic and Social Research Inc. (ICESR), created in the BVI in 2006. In May 2014, Alcogal sent a suspicious activity report to the BVI’s Financial Investigation Agency alerting it to Flores’s ownership of the company a few days after a Salvadoran judge issued an international arrest warrant against Flores in the Taiwanese donations case. At that point, Alcogal resigned as the registered agent of both ICTC and ICESR.
Juan José Daboub, Flores’ onetime finance minister and chief of staff, was listed as the legal representative of the Panamanian company, and he also appears in the leaked files as acting shareholder of the BVI firm. Daboub served as managing director of the World Bank from 2006 to 2010. In 2004, he and Flores founded the America Libre Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
In a pair of emails responding to ICIJ, Daboub wrote, “I voluntarily resigned from my participation in the entities [ICESR, ICTC and America Libre Institute] before joining the World Bank as managing director in July 2006, and I did so specifically because I was enrolling in the World Bank in that capacity.” Daboub asserted that everything required by the World Bank as part of its due diligence process for his appointment “was reported and provided in a timely way.”
This Panamanian law firm Alcogal assured the representatives of Francisco Flores that the real ownership of his offshore companies would not be publicly aired.
Former President Horacio Cartes
Leaked documents show that while Cartes was president of Paraguay, he and his family owned offshore companies with holdings valued at more than $1 million.
Cartes and his three children owned a company in Panama called Dominicana Acquisition SA. According to documents, the company had an apartment in Miami and a bank account in Paraguay’s Banco Amambay, now called Banco BASA, which is owned by Grupo Cartes. Horacio Cartes’ legal advisor told ICIJ that the company was used to buy a Miami property and said that the company never had bank accounts. The advisor said the company was currently inactive after having sold the real estate.
The legal representative defended the use of this corporate structure as a way “to streamline the sales process” and to facilitate the transfer of assets in the event of death. He added that “all the declarations required by law as well as the payment of taxes linked to his asset are in order”.
On the day that Dominicana was created in 2011, two companies were set up — Manantial Azul Development Corp. and Florale Business Corp. — which, documents show, were owned by Cartes’ sister, Maria Sarah.
According to the leaked documents, all three Cartes family companies were created to invest in real estate and to hold accounts in Banco BASA.
In July 2017, Cartes asked OMC Group to transfer Dominicana’s bearer shares, which don’t show the owner’s name on the certificate, to him and his three children “in order to comply” with transparency regulations that took effect in Panama in 2015.
Dominicana, Manantial Azul and Florale are currently suspended for nonpayment of fees to Panama’s corporate registry. Maria Sarah Cartes did not respond to ICIJ’s repeated request for comment.
Former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe
Before joining the government, Lamothe resigned from companies to avoid conflicts of interest, the Haitian news organization Le Nouvelliste reported in 2012. But leaked documents suggest that he maintained an ownership stake in some offshore ventures while in office, including three companies in the British Virgin Islands that he set up through offshore service provider Trident Trust from 2002 to 2008.
In 2010, Lamothe resigned as director of one of those companies, Lightfoot Ventures Ltd., but remained as beneficial owner. Trident Trust email correspondence describes Lightfoot Ventures as “one of the major telecommunications providers in Haiti … with offices in South Africa, the U.S. and a number of other countries.” The leaked files contain no details on any of his companies’ holdings.
Lamothe told ICIJ via email that the Haitian Senate’s investigation was a response to “a politically motivated complaint registered by a hard core opposition group.” He also said Haiti’s audit court had cleared him of any wrongdoing, but he declined to answer questions about his offshore companies.
Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
The Pandora Papers reveal new details about Dorado Asset Management Ltd., an offshore company that is the focus of corruption allegations against Kuczynski.
Kuczynski set up Dorado in the British Virgin Islands in 2004, while serving his second stint as Peru’s finance minister. He moved the company in 2014 from the BVI to Peru, where, according to court documents, it was active as recently as March 2019.
Kuczynski signed incorporation papers stating that the firm’s purpose was to provide financial advice and investment services, according to leaked records. But in 2018, a week before a second impeachment vote was set to happen, Kuczynski revealed that in 2006, he had sold his Lima home to Dorado for $695,000 to avoid paying U.S. taxes when he renounced his U.S. citizenship.
“I have to offload my property or I die poor,” he told a Peruvian congressional committee in closed session, according to leaked audio obtained by Reuters. “Why would we pay Uncle Sam and Mr. Trump a bunch of money that’s here in Peru?” His attorneys said the sale was legal.
Kuczynski also testified that one of his daughters controlled Dorado. The Pandora Papers do not contain information on the involvement of Kuczynski’s children in the company.
In 2019, Peruvian prosecutors revealed that the money Dorado paid Kuczynski for his house came from another company that Kuczynski owned, Westfield Capital Ltd., according to court records. Westfield Capital was the company that received “advisory fees” from Odebrecht while Kuczynski was finance minister.
The Peruvian government seized two of Kuczynski’s properties — though not the house where he is currently detained — in September 2019.
Former President Juan Carlos Varela
The Pandora Papers identify Varela as one of the owners of VHS Capital Ltd., a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Alcogal helped set up the company, and Varela, his father, his brother, and other associates, including two executives of a Panamanian bank, became owners and directors in 2001. Varela remained a director until April 2014, when Alcogal records show that he resigned from the board.
According to those records, VHS owned shares of another BVI company, Western Real Estate Ltd. Varela was a director and vice president of that company. He served on the company’s board from 2001 until 2012, when he resigned from those positions. After Varela’s resignation, another BVI company, Arak Holdings Ltd., merged with Western Real Estate. The documents do not contain information about Arak Holdings.
Three months into Varela’s presidency, leaked documents show, Alcogal conducted a due diligence review of VHS. The review referenced allegations made in April 2014 that Varela’s presidential campaign was funded in part by laundered money from illegal gambling operations. Varela’s campaign had denied those allegations, which were based on media publications rather than any inquiry by authorities, and in its review, Alcogal concluded that those reports did not require further investigation.
Public records from BVI financial authorities show that VHS remains active. Varela confirmed to ICIJ that he is still a shareholder of VHS.
He also said that he disclosed his interest in the company — which owns a farm in Panama — when he was running for president. At the time, Panamanian media reported that he had disclosed his VHS stake.
Former President Ricardo Martinelli
Pandora Papers’ records show that Martinelli was a director of Panagroup Ltd., a company registered by Alcogal in the Bahamas in 1997. The company was closed in 2010. In response to questions from ICIJ, Martinelli said that Panagroup was a holding company for a bank and that he had minimal participation, owning 1% of the shares. Both Martinelli and Alcogal said that Martinelli wasn’t a client of the firm.
The records also show that Alcogal was the registered agent for three offshore companies owned by Mizrachi, Martinelli’s brother-in-law, including Caribbean Holding, which had allegedly been used to pay for the Pegasus spyware, according to news reports. In 2015, Alcogal filed a Suspicious Activity Report to the British Virgin Island (BVI) financial authorities after the Pegasus spyware story was reported. Alcogal resigned as registered agent of Caribbean Holding. Caribbean Holdings is now inactive.
Pandora Papers records show that Alcogal incorporated the companies Pachira Ltd. SA and Mengil International Ltd. in Belize, at the request of Banca Privada d’Andorra — Pachira in 2012 and Mengil in 2013– and moved their registration to Panama in 2014. In 2016, Alcogal filed Suspicious Activity Reports to the Panamanian authorities after news outlets reported that a former Odebrecht executive confessed the companies were used to pay bribes to one of Martinelli’s sons in exchange for public contracts.
Neither of Martinelli’s sons appears in leaked documents related to Pachira or Mengil. In a 2017 letter to authorities, Alcogal said it didn’t have information about the companies’ beneficial owners. Internal Alcogal memos say the firm had assumed the real owners were people who held power of attorney over the companies.
In his response to ICIJ, Martinelli denied any relationship to Pachira and Mengil. “I don’t have information on payments made by or to anybody except myself,” he said. About the two people who held power of attorney to operate the companies, which news reports say authorities later alleged were acting as frontmen, Martinelli confirmed
Former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares
Leaked files expose ties between Ernesto Pérez Balladares and three offshore companies in which he played a direct role.
Two of those companies — Berkland Investments Ltd. and Barlock Investments Ltd. — were created while he was president.
Pérez Balladares was an authorized signatory for a bank account owned by Berkland Investments. Berkland, registered in the British Virgin Islands, was active between 1995 and 2004.
In November 2003, Banco General informed Pérez Balladares that it had frozen $4 million in the bank account of Berkland Investments at the direction of Panamanian prosecutors investigating the bribery allegations.
Two weeks before the freeze order, Berkland Investments transferred $850,000 to another BVI-registered company, Luntrel Investments Ltd., which was set up in 2002. Pérez Balladares’s three daughters were the owners of Luntrel.
Luntrel Investments contributed $50,000 to Pérez Balladares’ 2018 bid to be his party’s presidential candidate, according to La Prensa.
A company registered in Belize, Bradeton Investments Ltd., was the trustee of 50,000 shares of Berkland. This company was set up in June of 1999, six weeks before Pérez Balladares’s presidential term ended. One of his three daughters owned Bradeton.
The BVI company Barlock Investments was registered in 1998. Leaked files show that Pérez Balladares’ wife was its owner.
Seaside Foundation was a shareholder of Barlock Investments and Luntrel Investments, among other companies.
Seaside Foundation is a Panamanian private interest foundation that was created in 2003. Such foundations provide confidentiality for their beneficiaries, and any income generated by their assets — bank accounts, investments or real estate — is not taxed.
Pérez Balladares was the foundation’s protector, a role that would allow him to make decisions about how its assets were distributed, among other things. His three daughters are its beneficiaries.
Leaked files show that Seaside Foundation owned bank accounts in several jurisdictions, including Panama and the Bahamas.
Minister of the Economy Paulo Guedes
The Pandora Papers reveal that Guedes has been one of the shareholders and directors of Dreadnoughts International Group, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2014. Guedes set up the company with the help of Trident Trust. The leaked files list his daughter as a joint shareholder and co-director. In 2015, Guedes added his wife as a shareholder.
Dreadnoughts was active in the British Virgin Islands as of August 2021. It is unclear from company records whether Guedes still has a role in the company.
A spokesperson for Guedes’s office told ICIJ that he declared his ownership of Dreadnoughts to tax authorities and withdrew from private investment activity upon taking office in order to comply with Brazilian law.
Former Chief Executive CY Leung
Leaked records show that Leung used shell companies to own shares in EuroAsia Properties, a DTZ subsidiary operating in Japan. The records show that in late 2015, one of those shell companies transferred its stake in EuroAsia Properties, valued at $302,500, to DTZ. The transfer occurred while Leung was under investigation by the anti-corruption agency. It is not clear whether he was compensated for disposing of the shares.
In April 2017, while still Hong Kong’s top leader, Leung was listed as the owner of two British Virgin Islands companies, Wintrack Worldwide and Ace Link Property Ltd., the company that had held the stake in EuroAsia Properties. According to BVI registry documents, both companies were still active in November 2020.
Former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa
In 2017, the Tung brothers bought Rockington Ltd., a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, to open a bank account holding for $1 million in “liquid funds,” according to leaked files. The application form noted Tung Chee-hwa’s political position.
The company is one of nearly 30 offshore companies that the Tungs have registered in jurisdictions such as the BVI and Nevis, another Caribbean island. Some of those companies were created for the shipping business, according to an ICIJ review of leaked files and Orient Overseas company records.
Delegate, Henan province Qiya Feng
In 2016, Feng set up a company in the British Virgin Islands called Linkhigh Trading Ltd. with the purpose of investing in U.S. stocks. The company’s assets, valued at $2 million, came from Feng’s real estate business, according to incorporation documents.
At the time her company was incorporated, Feng was a client of the Credit Suisse bank, which provided a reference for her, reporting that “the transactions executed through us have not given rise to any complaints whatsoever.” In internal emails, an employee of offshore provider Trident Trust noted that Feng is a politically exposed person and therefore required further due diligence.
Linkhigh Trading is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but SEC records show that it is not active.
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin
Tarin holds one offshore company, Triperna Inc., while three of his family members hold three others named Hamra Inc., Moonen Inc. and Seafex Inc. All four companies were registered in the Seychelles in 2014 to hold investments, according to the Pandora Papers. The records of all four companies are maintained by Tariq Fawad Malik, a financial consultant based in Dubai, who received company records and managed correspondence. According to Malik, the companies were set up as part of the Tarin family’s intended investment in a bank with a Saudi business. Malik told the ICIJ that, “as a mandatory prerequisite by [the] regulator, we engaged with the Central Bank of Pakistan to obtain their ’in-principle’ approval for the said strategic investment.” The deal didn’t proceed.
Tarin did not respond to ICIJ’s repeated request for comment. In a statement issued on the day of the Pandora Papers’ publication, Tarin said, “The off-shore companies mentioned were incorporated as part of the fund raising process for my Bank.”
Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi
The Pandora Papers reveal that in 2016, Moonis Elahi became a client of the Singapore-based offshore service provider, Asiaciti, hoping to invest $5.6 million in proceeds from an alleged loan scandal into a trust. When the offshore provider notified him of its obligation to report the investment to Pakistan tax authorities, Elahi called Asiaciti, raising “concerns” about the reporting requirements and deciding to terminate the trust. According to the leaked document, Elahi told Asiaciti that he would instead hold the investments in a U.K.-registered trust in his wife’s name, who as a U.K. tax resident, would not be subject to the same disclosure requirements. Elahi did not respond to ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment.
On the publication day of the Pandora Papers investigation, a spokesperson for the Elahi family told ICIJ partners that, “due to political victimisation misleading interpretations and data have been circulated in files for nefarious reasons. ” He added that the assets of the family “are declared as per applicable law.”