On Sunday, a significant leak of financial papers was released by multiple major news organisations, alleging that world elites, including King Abdullah of Jordan, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, and cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, are linked to secret reservoirs of wealth.
It has been five years since the “Panama Papers” leak, which revealed how money was concealed by the wealthy in ways that law enforcement agencies were unable to discover, that a massive data dump of more than 11.9 million records was released, totaling approximately 2.94 terabytes of data.
ICIJ, a Washington, D.C.-based network of reporters and media organisations, said the data are linked to around 35 current and previous national leaders, as well as more than 330 legislators and public officials in 91 nations and territories. According to the consortium, it did not specify how the data were obtained, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the allegations or the documents disclosed by the group.
Jordan’s King Abdullah, a strong ally of the United States, is accused of using offshore accounts to purchase luxury houses in the United Kingdom and the United States worth more than $100 million.
“In the United States and the United Kingdom, His Majesty the Queen has a number of flats and houses, which are not a secret to anyone. This is neither unusual nor inappropriate “In a statement, the royal palace explained the situation.
“Any of the costs associated with these properties, as well as all associated expenses, have been personally financed by His Majesty. None of these costs have been covered by the state budget or the state treasury.”
In a statement to the consortium of media outlets, Abdullah’s legal team, DLA Piper, said he had “never at any stage misappropriated public funds or made any use whatsoever of the proceeds of help or assistance meant for the general people.”
This is according to the Washington Post, which is a member of the consortium. The newspaper also reported on the case of Svetlana Krivonogikh, a Russian woman who, according to the newspaper, became the owner of a Monaco apartment through an offshore company incorporated on the Caribbean island of Tortola in April 2003, just weeks after giving birth to a girl. According to the publication, which cited Russian investigative outlet Proekt, she was involved in a secret, years-long relationship with Putin at the time.
According to the Post, Krivonogikh, her daughter, who is now 18 years old, and the Kremlin did not react to demands for comment when reached by phone.
The documents, which were discovered just days before the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election on October 8-9, purportedly linked the country’s prime minister, Andrej Babis, to a secret $22 million house in a hilltop village near Cannes, France.
Babis, who appeared in a television debate on Sunday, categorically denied any misconduct.
In Babis’ words, “the money went from a Czech bank, it was taxed, it was my money, and it came back to a Czech bank.”
According to the Indian Express, which is a member of the ICIJ collaboration, the documents also revealed that Indian businessman Anil Ambani and his representatives owned at least 18 offshore businesses in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands, and Cyprus.
According to the research, seven of these companies were established between 2007 and 2010 and have borrowed and invested a total of at least $1.3 billion.
When Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Group, appeared before a London court in 2020 as a result of a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, the court heard that he had no net worth.
According to the Express, Anil Ambani’s lawyer, who declined to be identified, said: “Our client is a tax resident of India, and he has made all of the necessary disclosures to Indian authorities in accordance with Indian law. When making disclosures in front of the London court, all of the necessary issues were taken into consideration. As part of its global business strategy, the Reliance Group has established subsidiaries and affiliates in a variety of nations to meet legal commercial and regulatory obligations.”
When Reuters reached out to Ambani for comment, he did not immediately react to the request for comment.