Huge 'Pandora Papers' leak exposes secret offshore accounts of politicians, celebrities and billionaires

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Canadians named in confidential files include former auto-racing and figure-skating champions

Zach Dubinsky and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists · CBC News · Posted: Oct 03, 2021 12:30 PM ET | Last Updated: 4 hours ago

The equivalent of at least $14.3 trillion is held in offshore jurisdictions worldwide, according to a study last year from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (CBC)
The offshore fortunes of prime ministers, royalty, billionaires, athletes and celebrities are being laid bare in a giant new leak of tax-haven financial records, even bigger than the Panama Papers, revealed today by a global consortium of media outlets.

The leaked files, dubbed the Pandora Papers, show 35 current or former world leaders and more than 300 other public officials around the globe who have held assets in or through tax havens. Former British prime minister Tony Blair, the current prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Kenya, and the king of Jordan have all benefited from the anonymity or tax advantages of their offshore holdings, the records reveal.

The 11.9 million files — consisting of everything from emails to bank statements, incorporation documents and shareholder registries — are from 14 firms that provide offshore services, and were leaked by a confidential source to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The ICIJ has provided access to the files to 150 of its partner news organizations around the world, including CBC/Radio-Canada and the Toronto Star in Canada.

So far, the CBC and the Star have identified the names of at least 500 Canadian citizens or residents in the records.

WATCH | A look inside the Pandora Papers:

'Pandora Papers' leak exposes secret offshore accounts of politicians, celebrities

6 hours ago
A massive new leak of tax-haven financial records, even bigger than the Panama Papers, show 35 current or former world leaders and more than 300 other public officials around the globe who have held assets in or through tax havens. 3:04
Much like the Panama Papers leak in 2016 or the Paradise Papers the following year, the secret files provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how certain global elites — or in other cases, high-profile criminals — take advantage of financial wizardry or opaque corporate structures to either shield assets, wriggle out of their tax obligations, or hide wealth entirely.

After the Panama Papers came to light five years ago, world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, repeatedly pledged to crack down on such tax abuses and to clean up the murky world of offshore finance. But the new Pandora Papers show that the global offshore world, while chastened, continued to thrive in recent years.

Read more about the Pandora Papers from the ICIJ
"When we published the Panama Papers a few years ago, there was a lot of outcry around the world saying that this was a system that needed to end," said Gerard Ryle, the ICIJ's director. "But we're now seeing the very people who could end the system … themselves benefiting from it."

There is nothing inherently illegal about having an offshore bank account or company, as long as it is properly declared to tax authorities, and plenty of major businesses operate overtly and legally in and through tax havens. However, the anonymity provided in offshore jurisdictions, coupled with their minimal or non-existent tax on income, also makes them a magnet for money launderers, tax evaders, corrupt politicians and other criminals.


The leaked files contain details on hundreds of offshore companies and accounts set up by or for Canadians. Here are some of the most prominent names.

Jacques Villeneuve had offshore companies set up in zero-tax jurisdictions from the start of his career. (Jonathan Ferry/Getty Images)
Jacques Villeneuve

The only Canadian to ever win a Formula 1 championship, Villeneuve lived a life of luxury in Monaco and Switzerland during most of his racing career, but lived in Quebec for a period in the 1990s and from 2007 to 2013. The Pandora Papers show he had offshore companies set up in zero-tax jurisdictions from the start of his career, back in 1992. They were set up to receive racing and endorsement income.

Elvis Stojko, seen in the men's short program during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, says he didn't even know which country his offshore trust was in until CBC mentioned it. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Elvis Stojko

The karate-chopping figure skater won hearts with his edgy Olympic performances and world championship wins, but the money from his success wasn't bad, either. The leaked files show Stojko transferred Canadian assets worth up to $6.5 million into an offshore trust in the Caribbean in 2007, while he was living in Mexico. Skate Canada, an organization that receives public funding, signed off on the transaction. Stojko told CBC News that he relied on his lawyer to handle his finances, and had "no real involvement or interest" in any of it. "When my longtime lawyer recommended that I set up a trust ... I did not question his advice, and I trusted him to act in a manner which was both in my best interests and in compliance with the law." Skate Canada declined to comment.

Montrealer Firoz Patel pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to launder money, but says the case against him was overblown. (Firoz_Patel_/Twitter)
Firoz Patel

The Quebecer is currently serving a three-year sentence in a Connecticut prison after pleading guilty last year in the U.S. to conspiring to launder money, via his and his brother's unlicensed online payment platforms Payza and AlertPay. The Pandora Papers show that just as the investigation into the Patel brothers was hitting its full stride, Firoz Patel flew to the United Arab Emirates where he acquired an offshore company. From prison, Patel said the corporation was set up legitimately to do business in Asia and had nothing to do with Payza.

Alexandre Cazes

The alleged criminal mastermind behind the dark web marketplace AlphaBay — an online bazaar for buying and selling drugs, guns and stolen credit card info — amassed a fortune worth about $29 million, according to U.S. authorities. The Pandora Papers show for the first time how he used a network of shell companies to obscure his ownership of various assets, including luxury homes.

The Pandora Papers show some of the ways Alexandre Cazes was able to shift his money around with some degree of anonymity. (Kathy Gauthier/Facebook)
Cazes died in 2017, a week after he was arrested. It's believed the Trois-Rivières, Que., native took his own life while in custody.

Fred Sharp

Sharp's Vancouver firm, Corporate House, was known as the go-to investment outfit for wealthy Canadians wanting to keep assets hidden and use offshore havens to minimize their taxes, sources in the wealth management industry told the CBC in 2016. Not surprisingly, Sharp was revealed that year as the most frequently named Canadian in the Panama Papers leak.

West Vancouver ex-lawyer and investment 'middleman' Fred Sharp is facing charges from the U.S. Justice Department as the alleged 'mastermind' of a pump-and-dump investment scheme. (Sharp Art Pictures/YouTube)
The Canada Revenue Agency began auditing him and a number of his associates right after. Nothing much has come of it yet — at least in Canada — as Sharp and co. filed dozens of lawsuits to block the CRA's efforts. South of the border, however, Sharp's machinations caught the eye of the FBI, and he and a couple of clients were charged with securities fraud in August. He's less prominent in the new Pandora Papers leak, which mainly shows his firm doing routine administration of offshore companies. Sharp did not comment in response to questions from CBC News and the Toronto Star.

CBC News will report in depth on some of these cases, and other Canadian names, in the weeks ahead.

Global names

Outside of Canada, the prominent names in the leak include eight sitting presidents and three current prime ministers. Some of them had already declared their offshore assets, while for others, such as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, their holdings were previously a secret.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta told an interviewer in 2018 that 'every public servant’s assets must be declared publicly.' He himself, however, seems to have been an exception. (Yasuyoshi CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
"Every public servant's assets must be declared publicly so that people can question and ask — what is legitimate?" Kenyatta had told a BBC interviewer in 2018. The leaked records show he and his mother were beneficiaries of a secretive foundation in Panama, while other family members own five offshore companies with assets worth more than $38 million. Kenyatta and his family did not reply to ICIJ partner journalists' requests for comment.

Among the other prominent global names:

Czech PM Andrej Babis

Listed in Forbes magazine's tally of global billionaires, Babis rose to power promising to crack down on corruption and tax evasion. The Pandora Papers reveal he used a string of shell companies to purchase a sprawling estate, Chateau Bigaud, in southern France and seven other nearby properties before he entered public office. He did not disclose the shell companies in the public declarations he's required to file by law, according to Czech state records obtained by an ICIJ media partner. Within three weeks, a Czech prosecutor will decide whether to lay fraud charges against him in an unrelated case. Babis didn't respond to the ICIJ's requests for comment.

Pop singer Shakira

The Colombian-born pop music sensation is already well known for her tax troubles. Though she declared herself a resident of the Bahamas, authorities in Spain determined she was actually living in Barcelona from 2011 to 2014 but not paying taxes, and in July a Spanish magistrate cleared the way for her to go to trial on criminal charges laid in 2019. The Pandora Papers reveal that even as that investigation in Spain was underway, she was incorporating new offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands, one of which, Titania Management Inc., has never previously been publicly revealed. A copy of her Spanish ID is among the leaked files.

Jordan's King Abdullah II is connected with several offshore companies registered in tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images)
King Abdullah II

Jordan's ruler, the leak reveals, secretly owns 14 luxury homes in Britain and the U.S., purchased between 2003 and 2017 through companies registered in tax havens. The total value is more than $134 million. Writing to ICIJ on the king's behalf, attorneys denied anything improper about owning homes through offshore companies and said the king doesn't have to pay taxes under Jordanian law. But had the purchases been public, the timing could have alienated many Jordanians. Most of the real estate deals took place since 2011, after Arab Spring protests posed the first serious threat to the Jordanian monarchy in generations. Lately, protests against the royal family have intensified amid allegations that nepotism and corruption are choking the country. Jordan is also one of the poorest countries in the region and depends on foreign aid, including $800 million from Canada in the past 10 years.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, seen last month, purchased shares in a company registered in the British Virgin Islands in order to acquire a building in London that became the offices of his wife's law firm. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Former U.K. PM Tony Blair

Britain's longest-serving Labour prime minister and his wife, lawyer Cherie Blair, purchased an $11-million Victorian building in London in 2017 for her law firm. But it wasn't an ordinary real estate transaction. Instead of buying the property, they acquired the shares of the British Virgin Islands company that owned it, from the family of Bahrain's industry and tourism minister. By purchasing the company shares instead of the building, the Blairs benefited from a legal arrangement that saved them from having to pay more than $580,000 in property transfer taxes. Cherie Blair said in replies to questions from the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper that her husband was not involved in the transaction and that the "seller for their own purposes only wanted to sell the company" and not the property. Blair said she and her husband took immediate steps after acquiring the property to merge it back into a U.K.-based holding company, making it fully taxable in Britain.

The consequences for countries of wealth moving offshore, out of the reach of tax authorities, are particularly devastating this year, as national treasuries struggle against the whipsaw of a COVID-induced economic slowdown and sharply higher costs for health care, protective equipment and social programs.

The equivalent of at least $14.3 trillion is held offshore, according to a 2020 study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. However, the complexity and secrecy of the offshore system make it impossible to know how much of that is tied to tax evasion and other crimes and how much has been reported to authorities.

"These are loopholes that are available to wealthy people but not available to others," Robert Palmer, executive director of the advocacy group Tax Justice UK, told ICIJ partner the Guardian. "Politicians need to fix the tax system so that everyone pays their fair share."

-With files from CBC/Radio-Canada's Frédéric Zalac, Paul Emile d'Entremont, Charles Rusnell, Alex Shprintsen, Terence McKenna, Jeff Yates, Nicholas De Rosa, Benoit Michaud, Jonathon Gatehouse and Dexter McMillan




Zach Dubinsky和国际调查记者联合会·CBC新闻·发布时间:美国东部时间2021年10月03日下午12:30|最后更新时间:4小时前





观看 | 潘多拉纸内部:


6 小时前


ICIJ主任Gerard Ryle说,几年前,当我们出版《巴拿马文件》时,世界各地有很多人强烈抗议,说这是一个需要结束的系统。但现在我们看到,正是那些可以结束系统的人......他们自己也从中受益。




Jacques Villeneuve从职业生涯一开始就成立了离岸公司。(Jonathan Ferry/Getty Images)

Villeneuve是唯一一位获得一级方程式赛车冠军的加拿大人,他在赛车生涯的大部分时间里在摩纳哥和瑞士过着奢侈的生活,但在1990年代和2007年至2013年期间在魁北克生活了一段时间。Pandora Papers显示,他从1992年职业生涯一开始就成立了离岸公司。他们被设置为接收赛车和代言收入。

Elvis Stojko在2002年盐湖城冬季奥运会期间的男子短节目中看到,他说,直到CBC提到,他甚至不知道他的离岸信托在哪个国家。(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

这位空手道花样滑冰运动员凭借他前卫的奥运表演和世界冠军的胜利赢得了人心,但他的成功也不错。泄露的文件显示,斯托伊科于2007年将价值高达6.5百万美元的加拿大资产转移到加勒比地区的离岸信托公司,当时他住在墨西哥。接受公共资金的Skate Canada组织签署了这笔交易。Stojko告诉CBC新闻,他依靠律师来处理财务,并且“没有真正的参与或兴趣”。“当我的长期律师建议我建立一个信托时......我没有质疑他的建议,我相信他的行为既符合我的最佳利益,也符合法律。”加拿大滑冰公司拒绝置评。


魁北克人去年在美国通过他和他的兄弟的无证在线支付平台Payza和AlertPay承认共谋洗钱,目前正在康涅狄格州一所监狱服刑三年。Pandora Papers显示,正当对帕特尔兄弟的调查达到全面展开时,Firoz Patel飞往阿拉伯联合酋长国,在那里他收购了一家离岸公司。Patel在监狱里说,该公司是合法地在亚洲开展业务的,与Payza无关。


据美国当局称,黑暗网络市场AlphaBay(一个买卖毒品、枪支和被盗信用卡信息的在线集市)背后的犯罪策划者积累了价值约29亿美元的财富。Pandora Papers首次展示了他如何使用空壳公司网络来掩盖他对包括豪华住宅在内的各种资产的所有权。

Pandora Papers展示了Alexandre Cazes以某种程度匿名的方式转移他的钱的一些方式。(Kathy Gauthier/Facebook)



加拿大税务局随后立即开始对他和他的一些同事进行审计。至少在加拿大,夏普公司提起了数十起诉讼来阻止CRA的努力,这还没有什么大不了的。然而,在边境以南,夏普的阴谋引起了联邦调查局的注意,他和几个客户在8月份被指控犯有证券欺诈罪。他在新的Pandora Papers泄露中不那么突出,这主要表明他的公司对离岸公司进行日常管理。Sharp没有在回答CBC新闻和多伦多之星的问题时发表评论。




肯尼亚总统乌胡鲁·肯雅塔在2018年告诉采访者,“每个公务员的资产都必须公开申报。”然而,他本人似乎是个例外。(Yasuyoshi CHIBA/法新社/盖蒂图片社)



巴比斯被列入《福布斯》杂志的全球亿万富翁人数,他上台承诺打击腐败和逃税。Pandora Papers透露,在他进入公职之前,他使用一系列空壳公司购买了法国南部的广阔庄园Bigaud城堡和附近的其他七处房产。根据ICIJ媒体合作伙伴获得的捷克国家记录,他没有在法律要求他提交的公开声明中披露空壳公司。在三周内,捷克检察官将决定是否在无关案件中对他提出欺诈指控。Babis没有回应ICIJ的置评请求。



约旦国王阿卜杜拉二世与包括英属维尔京群岛在内的几家在避税天堂注册的离岸公司有联系。(Tobias Schwarz/法新社通过盖蒂图片社)


上个月看到的英国前首相托尼·布莱尔购买了一家在英属维尔京群岛注册的公司股票,以收购伦敦的一栋建筑,该建筑成为他妻子律师事务所的办公室。Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

2017年,英国任职时间最长的工党首相和他的妻子切丽·布莱尔律师在伦敦为她的律师事务所购买了一座价值11百万美元的维多利亚式建筑。但这不是一笔普通的房地产交易。他们没有购买该房产,而是从巴林工业和旅游部长的家人那里收购了拥有该房产的英属维尔京群岛公司的股份。通过购买公司股份而不是大楼,布莱尔一家受益于一项法律安排,使他们不必支付超过580,000美元的财产转让税。Cherie Blair在回答英国《卫报》的问题时说,她的丈夫没有参与这笔交易,“卖家只想为了自己的目的出售公司”,而不是财产。Blair说,她和她的丈夫在收购该房产后立即采取措施,将其合并回一家总部位于英国的控股公司,使其在英国应全额纳税。



倡导组织Tax Justice UK的执行董事Robert Palmer告诉ICIJ合作伙伴《卫报》,这些漏洞对富人来说是可用的,但其他人却不能使用。政治家需要修复税收制度,以便每个人都支付自己的公平份额。

-拥有CBC/加拿大电台的Frédéric Zalac、Paul Emile d'Entremont、Charles Rusnell、Alex Shprintsen、Terence McKenna、Jeff Yates、Nicholas De Rosa、Benoit Michaud、Jonathon Gatehouse和Dexter McMillan的文件