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"Pandora Papers" Leak Claims To Expose Hidden Wealth Allegedly Belonging To Putin, Other Foreign Leaders

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Oct 03, 2021 - 02:50 PM

It's been a while since we have seen a massive leak exposing international tax shelters that offer a window into the hidden wealth of the global elite. Buzzfeed brought us the Fincen files a year ago, and before that, the Panama Papers, in early 2016 - leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca - which offered a wealth of information that implicated foreign leaders (it even cost the leader of Iceland his job) including - of course - Russian Vladimir Putin.

Amusingly, though, these major leaks never seem to expose wealth held by American political leaders. And, so today, we have yet another leak, following the same pattern as the Panama Papers - dropping out of nowhere on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon - to expose foreign leaders from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, meaning there's - you guessed it - another Putin connection.

The biggest revelation from what the Washington Post is calling "the Pandora Papers" is that South Dakota "now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean" as a haven for those in need of financial secrecy.

"Tens of millions of dollars from outside the US are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing."

Who are these people the Washington Post is suddenly so concerned with, now that they've been handed the same files that the ICIJ handed to every other American media organization reporting on this (creating the illusion that this information has been "vetted" by multiple independent outlets)? 11.9MM financial records were supposedly obtained by ICIJ as part of the leak. The records shed light on some 29K separate accounts. You think CNN, WaPo, NYT and every other media outlet in the US has reviewed them?

Of those named in the leaks, some 130 have already been identified as "billionaires" by Forbes or other media. Another 330 public officials were named from around the world. More of these names will be revealed in the coming days, but for starters, WaPo has published articles focusing on two foreign leaders, they are:

  • Jordan's King Abdullah II: - who purchased lavish homes on both US coasts, including a luxury home in Malibu, and spent more than $100MM earned from an unclear provenance. Most of the purchases were made during a 10-year stretch, which coincided with "mounting hardship" in Jordan, according to WaPo.

and...

  • Vladimir Putin: - via a Russian woman, Svetlana Krivonogikh, with whom he is said to have had an affair. Per the "documents", Krivonogikh was allegedly gifted a swanky apartment in Monaco (worth $4.1MM back  in 2003), along with a globe-spanning "portfolio of properties". It's also alleged that Krivonogikh may be the mother of another Putin daughter, a teenage Instagram model who has capitalized on the questions surrounding her paternity to build her Instagram following.
  • At another point in WaPo's report on Putin, the paper also suggests a Russian energy trader worth billions sold a swanky St. Petersburg apartment to the grandmother of a rhythmic gymnast said to have had an affair with Putin. We have included a photo of the gymnast below. The same businessman was also said to have transferred assets to a Putin son-in-law, among other efforts to allegedly hide assets belonging to the dear leader.

WaPo's reporting also includes a lengthy explainer of how "trusts" work in the American financial system, and how they can be "manipulated" for purposes of hiding assets from creditors, or the tax man. According to the WaPo (as dictated by the ICIJ), the trove of documents was obtained from a single law firm, although the material includes records from 14 financial services "entities" operating in Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and BVI.

And just like the last major leak five years ago, many of the revelations seem to point in Putin's direction.

At this point, reporting on Putin's hidden assets has been so extensive, it's a joke to suggest they are "hidden". Let's not forget, Alexei Navalny dedicated much of his recent work to reporting on a $1 billion Black Sea palace he claims is a secret residence for the Russian leader.

But the real question is: how come these leaks never seem to focus on any American politicians? It's not like they don't engage in hiding assets in the same fashion (perhaps not as blatantly)?

And another question: if these American media organizations were able to efficiently comb through millions of documents in this investigation, then how come it took so long to "verify" the texts, photos and other items gleaned from Hunter's former laptop, which - wouldn't you know it - actually did once belong to him (even though the press went as far as to suggest it might have been an opposition plant)?

Perhaps the answer has something to do with the fact that, once again, the American press is simply reporting what they're being told.

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