Remember the Panama Papers, the over eleven million documents regarding offshore accounts leaked to major news outlets back in 2015? Apparently, there’s a version 2.0 now – the so-called Pandora Papers, and several heads of government from around the world are up in arms because of what these have revealed.
Made up of over 12 million files, the Pandora Papers is currently considered the biggest information leak in history. It presents incriminating evidence against a number of world leaders, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, Czech prime minister Andrej Babis, and King Abdullah of Jordan.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC, the information on the hidden wealth of some of the world’s most powerful people was gleaned by over 600 journalists operating in 117 countries.
What exactly are the Pandora Papers about?
Like the Panama Papers, the Pandora Papers are an expose detailing the hidden wealth and unorthodox deals entered by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. It involves a roster that includes high-powered business moguls and highly visible politicians and heads of state.
The findings presented in the papers include evidence that several world leaders have used their position and authority to amass considerable wealth during their time in office.
For example, King Abdullah bin Al-Hussein II of Jordan was shown to have invested more than $100 million in a British property company since he was raised to the throne in 1999.
The Papers have also exposed the exorbitant wealth amassed by Vladimir Putin and some of his most loyal allies in the Russian government. However, a spokesman for the Kremlin has vehemently denied this on Putin’s behalf, questioning the reliability of the information given.
For their part, spokespersons for the Jordanian royal household find that the King has done nothing wrong and that there was “nothing unusual or improper” about the monarch owning property overseas.
Could this be the key to greater global financial transparency?
Of course, not everyone implicated in the Pandora Papers has cried foul. Indeed, some personalities expressed hope that any investigations regarding the Papers will lead to improved financial transparency in the highest levels of society.
One such person is Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta. Together with six members of his family, Kenyatta was linked to thirteen offshore companies. However, it is interesting to note that the Papers have no evidence that Kenyatta and his relatives have stolen or hidden state assets in these companies.
Indeed, Kenyatta made a statement wherein he expressed hope that the global investigation regarding the Papers will help enhance “the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe.” He also assured investigators that he would respond comprehensively to the leak upon his return from a recent overseas state visit.