What Pandora Papers Can Teach Us About Taxes 

Trump proposed a payroll tax rate drop to 0 %

Journalists like to learn more about billionaires and their business empires and the Pandora Papers once more underlined the importance of investigative journalism. In the fall of 2021, a group known as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in cooperation with 140 media organizations released Pandora Papers. They contain millions of leaked documents. 

Documents obtained by journalists uncover disguised and sometimes unethical or corrupt dealings of famous people. Pandora Papers contain information about billionaires, world leaders, politicians, corporate executives, and celebrities. Importantly, it represents the largest such data dump released to date, larger than the previous Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. 

Papers released in the fall of 2021 contain many interesting details about celebrities and others. They reveal the offshore interests and activities of such individuals along with their tax sheltering schemes. Many people would like to learn about the connection between leaked documents and Pandora. The name “Pandora” as the documents revealed above may prove to open Pandora’s box of investigations in the future.

Undoubtedly, if wrongdoing is found as well as exposed, these high-profile people could be forced from office. They may have to deal with other issues as well. 

Pandora Papers, Panama Papers, and Paradise Papers

We should not forget about the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers as well. So, before discussing Pandora Papers, let’s have a look at Panama Papers. It refers to the 11.5 million leaked encrypted confidential documents that were the property of Mossack Fonseca. In 2016, a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung released documents that belonged to the Panama-based law firm. 

Journalists exposed the network of more than 214,000 tax havens involving people and entities from 200 different nations. As in the case of Pandora Papers, the ICIJ also took part in the process. Süddeutsche Zeitung worked with the ICIJ to decipher the encrypted files before revelations were made public. 

The documents contain personal financial information about many wealthy individuals as well as public officials. Panama Papers helped to reveal interesting details about 128 public officials, politicians, hundreds of celebrities, and other wealthy individuals.

Süddeutsche Zeitung also worked on Paradise Papers. It refers to 13.4 million leaked files and 1.4 terabytes of leaked data from offshore service providers and company registries. Süddeutsche Zeitung unveiled the offshore interests as well as activities of politicians, world leaders, and others. 

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists cooperated with 95 media partners in six continents. Hackers played an important role as it is hard to imagine Paradise Papers without them. They infiltrated Bermudian law firm Appleby’s servers, gaining access to over 6.8 million files. Furthermore, they also stole equal amounts of data from Asiaciti in Singapore as well as other registers abroad. Reporters from Süddeutsche Zeitung who were familiar with Panama Papers provided the documents to the ICIJ. Those files were provided to reporters Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier. Reporters from Süddeutsche Zeitung who were familiar with Panama Papers provided the documents to the ICIJ. 


ICIJ and interesting facts 

People should learn more about the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). It is a global network headquartered in Washington D.C. Importantly, it is an independent global network of 280 investigative journalists as well as over 100 media organizations.

This month, it released the Pandora Papers to the media and general public. Pandora Papers consists of nearly 12 million files filling almost 3 terabytes of data. It uncovered a complex web of tax havens, shell corporations, and offshore accounts. People and companies used them to hide the true ownership of billions of dollars of assets. Based on the information provided by the organization the people exposed include 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians, and public officials in 91 countries and territories. It also includes information about billionaires, fugitives, and others. 

The documents revealed by journalists came from 14 offshore financial service providers. As a reminder, offshore accounts and corporate entities are often legal. Most documents do not actually show inappropriate or illegal behavior. Nevertheless, some of the papers do indeed implicate some individuals in unethical or illegal activities. 

It is worth noting that, in many countries, offshore accounts or ownership in foreign corporations is not illegal or unethical. Nevertheless, not declaring those holdings as well as using them to avoid taxes or hide business dealings is illegal. 


Famous people and taxes

It is not an easy task to analyze millions of files. But journalists already found celebrities that are using tax havens. For example, famous entertainers Elton John, Ringo Starr, Jackie Chan, Bono, Julio Iglesias, and others. Unsurprisingly, lawyers from many of these celebrities stated that their clients are law-abiding citizens. 

Let’s discuss one example. Ringo Starr created two companies in the Bahamas, a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. He used the companies mentioned above to buy real estate, including a “private dwelling in Los Angeles”. He also established at least five trusts in Panama, three of which hold life insurance policies on behalf of his children. Moreover, another trust keeps earnings from royalties and live performances. 

It is hard to discuss all information released by journalists, but let’s have a look at several examples. It is no secret that the Qatari ruling family is very powerful and they make millions of dollars. The country’s ruling family purchased two of England’s most pricey mansions while avoiding £18.5 million in taxes due. 

Jordan’s King Abdullah II secretly owned luxury homes in the U.K. as well as the U.S. worth more than $106 million in total. His country is among the top recipients of foreign aid. In 2020, Jordan received more than $1.5 billion in aid and military funding from the U.S. The European Union agreed to provide Jordan with over $218 million in aid.

Andrej Babiš who is the prime minister of the Czech Republic failed to disclose an offshore investment company used two purchase two French villas for $16.3 million. 

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