France – World | Leaders defend themselves after Pandora Papers allegations

NEW YORK – Several countries and leaders on Monday rejected the revelations of a major investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), accusing several hundred politicians and their relatives of concealing assets in offshore companies, including for purposes of tax evasion. Was.

Published on Sunday, the poll, in which nearly 600 journalists collaborated, is called the Pandora Papers, a reference to the legend of the Pandora Box. It is based on approximately 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies and disclosed more than 29,000 offshore companies.

According to these documents, King Abdullah II of Jordan created at least thirty offshore companies, i.e. in countries or territories with favorable taxation, and through them 14 luxury properties in the United States and the UK for more than $106 million. Bought it . The Royal Palace responded on Monday with “incorrect, distorted and exaggerated press information.”

In addition, the Kremlin dismissed the “baseless allegations”. According to ICIJ, Svetlana Krivonogikh, a woman posed by Russian media as the former mistress of President Vladimir Putin, acquired an apartment in Monaco for $4 million in 2003 through offshore accounts. Other relatives of the President are also mentioned.

Ivorian Prime Minister Patrick Achi, who controlled a company in the Bahamas until at least 2006 according to the investigation, denied any “illegal action” on Monday.

Already on Sunday, the Czech prime minister, Lady Babis, had defended placing $22 million in front of companies to finance the purchase of a palace in the south of France.

“I have never done anything illegal or wrong,” he tweeted, “but that doesn’t stop them from trying to defame me and influence the Czech parliamentary elections”, scheduled for next Friday and Saturday.

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Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso has deposited funds in South Dakota in two trusts headquartered in the United States, according to the ICIJ, which also points to the presidents of Chile and the Dominican Republic.

“All my income has been declared and I have paid the relevant taxes in Ecuador, making me personally one of the main taxpayers in the country”, assured Mr. Lasso.

According to the French daily Le Monde, there was an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands for nearly twenty years, owned by Congolese President Denis Sassou Ngueso, while Gabon’s President Ali Bongo controlled two offshore companies in the late 2000s. did. ICIJ.

In all, the ICIJ has established links between offshore assets and 336 top executives and politicians who have created nearly 1,000 companies, more than two-thirds of which are in the British Virgin Islands.

The investigation also points to a “major role in tax evasion” by the Panamanian law firm Alcogal (Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee), allegations dismissed by the company.

For European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, these practices are “totally unacceptable” and the EU should “do more work” on the issue.

– Shakira and DSK –

Cited personalities are Colombian singer Shakira, German model Claudia Schiffer or Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

The names of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former French minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn also appear for the purchase of real estate in London.

According to the survey, the former Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), now a consultant and lecturer, paid several million dollars in fees through a Moroccan company, which is exempt from taxes.

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“I have been a Moroccan tax resident since 2013 and (…) I pay my taxes on 23.8% of my profits, or up to EUR 812,000 for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020”, defended DSK on Twitter.

According to Le Monde, 600 French people are included in the survey.

In most countries, these facts cannot be prosecuted. But the ICIJ draws a parallel between the dialogue of some politicians and their investments in tax havens.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has repeatedly reaffirmed his determination to fight corruption. Nevertheless, according to the Pandora Papers, he has a foundation in Panama and several of his direct family members have more than $30 million in offshore accounts.

Without responding to the allegations, Mr Kenyatta lauded an investigation that would “help improve financial transparency”.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who based his image on the fight against corruption, has established a network of offshore companies since 2012 that was used exclusively to buy three grand properties in London, according to the ICIJ. had gone.

A means to “protect” against the “aggressive actions” of the pro-Russian regime of former President Viktor Yanukovich, according to the Ukrainian presidential administration.

An independent entity, ICIJ has investigative journalists in more than 100 countries and territories, with approximately 100 media partners. This became known in 2016 with the Panama Papers, an investigation based on approximately 11.5 million documents from a Panamanian law firm.

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