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The Pandora Papers: Part 2

Today’s explainer is the second part of the Pandora Papers story. Yesterday we spoke about what offshore banking is, and why we care about it (check out yesterday’s edition for more). Today, we’re exploring the key findings from the leak and who was affected. 

Remind me quickly, what are the Pandora Papers? 

The Pandora Papers are a collection of documents that contained 11.9 million confidential files, leaked from 14 offshore financial services firms. The leak revealed some of the world’s most influential politicians, business identities and celebrities have been avoiding tax in their countries via offshore bank accounts.

What did we learn from the leak? 

A number of high-profile politicians have had some financial secrets exposed. For example, Czech prime minister Andrej Babis is alleged to have used offshore companies to buy a $US22 million chateau in the French Riviera. It’s also alleged that King Abdullah II of Jordan has collected a $US100 million property portfolio. Former UK PM Tony Blair used an offshore account to allegedly avoid paying property tax on a UK property. The leaders of Kenya and Pakistan are also implicated. 

Celebrities have also been implicated in the leaks. There’s proof of Colombian singer Shakira holding multiple offshore accounts – although this isn’t the first time the pop star’s tax troubles have been highlighted (she is still facing criminal charges in Spain from 2019). Shakira’s attorney said the accounts do not provide a tax advantage. 

Similarly, Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar was found to have offshore accounts – Tendulkar’s lawyers also said the accounts were legitimate, and have been declared to tax authorities.

Are any Australians involved?  

According to a statement released by the ATO on Monday morning, Australia’s tax regulator will be “analysing the information to identify any possible Australian links”. ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce Chief Will Day said the ATO “regularly receives information from a range of different sources in our efforts to fight tax evasion and crime”, and “while the information in data leaks is interesting, we don’t rely on data leaks to do our job”.

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