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Pandora Papers: Pakistan, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Australia and Panama set to launch inquiries

Sequel to the Sunday Pandora Papers revelation of corruption among political leaders and many heads of state across the world, insight into the secret papers show the activities of nearly 29,000 offshore accounts. Leaders of countries on five continents use the offshore system, as well as 14 current heads of state or government. Among these leaders and politicians are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine.

Recall that the Washington Post on Sunday published the first in a series of stories based on more than 11.9 million documents that expose a secretive financial universe that benefits the wealthy and powerful.

The vast trove of documents, known as the Pandora Papers, was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The Post collaborated on the investigation, which involved more than 600 journalists in 117 countries and territories, the largest ever organized by the ICIJ.

The investigation exposes the offshore system that government leaders, billionaires and criminals often use to hide their assets. For an explanation of how offshore systems work and why people choose to hold their money in these companies, read our overview.

Within hours of the investigation’s publication, at least eight national governments promised to launch their own inquiries into the financial activities revealed in the papers.

In a similar but narrower 2016 ICIJ investigation known as the Panama Papers, documents from an offshore financial services provider in Panama revealed hidden wealth that ignited protests in several countries, forcing two leaders from power. The Pandora Papers probe is based on documents from 14 providers instead of one.

Around the world, political players named in the investigation faced criticism for lavish spending and opaque practices.

Some defended their actions. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is up for reelection this week, suggested Sunday that the Pandora Papers revelations about him are part of an effort to “influence the Czech election.”

Here’s what we know from our collective reporting

  • The files in the Pandora Papers detail the activities of nearly 29,000 offshore accounts.
  • Among them are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine. U.S. states have become central to the global offshore system.
  • Leaders of countries on five continents use the offshore system, as well as 14 current heads of state or government.
  • Officials in Pakistan, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Australia and Panama are set to launch inquiries in the wake of the Pandora Papers revelations.

11:33 AM: Social media in Kenya abuzz with Pandora revelations, as president promises to respond

 

Revelations in the Pandora Papers reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta and several close relatives set up at least seven entities offshore that hold money and real estate worth more than $30 million transfixed Kenyans on Monday.

On Kenyan social media, topics from the revelations were all trending, including the term “client #13173” — referring to the code the Panama law firm Alcogal apparently used in reference to the Kenyattas while transacting with Swiss advisers.

The corruption of Kenya’s ruling classes has long been discussed in the country, but the revelations from the investigative series gave more evidence about the massive sums of money hidden away by the country’s mega-rich while most people in this East African nation are locked in poverty.

In a Monday statement, Kenyatta did not refer to specific allegations but said “these reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe.” He said the Pandora Papers will “lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who can not explain their assets or wealth.”

Patrick Gathara, a Kenyan writer and political cartoonist tweeted a thread that termed the money stashed abroad by the Kenyattas as “just the tip of the iceberg” and that “the entire political class,” including those vying in coming elections, had already been implicated in the “looting of the country” based on previous reports and investigations.

Even while social media was abuzz with the story, on Monday, the nation’s main newspapers did not report it on their front pages, which many observers took as evidence of the stranglehold the nation’s elite has on the press. On Monday morning, Kenya’s top leading media houses featured their usual programming instead, with the early morning shows discussing sports and other topics.

Miguna Miguna, a Kenyan lawyer and fierce critic of the Kenyan government, who remains in exile since 2018, tweeted that the president had broken the law since he has to declare all his wealth and could not have offshore accounts. Most top Kenya government officials have not commented.

By: Rael Ombuor

10:43 AM: Kremlin denies that Pandora Papers prove members of Putin’s inner circle stashed assets abroad

MOSCOW — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday the publication of the Pandora Papers had no credibility and denied that the materials proved members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle stashed assets in overseas tax havens.

The documents — more than 11.9 million records from 14 offshore entities, including law and wealth-management firms — illuminate a hidden world that has allowed government leaders, a monarch, billionaires and criminals to shield their assets.

The cache underscores how many of those most loyal to Putin have grown exorbitantly rich and hidden assets abroad, even as he has disparaged the West and called on Russian elites to keep their capital at home.

But Peskov said reports on the records were “hard to understand” and amounted to unfounded allegations that did not merit investigation.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists identified nearly 3,700 offshore companies with 4,400 beneficial owners who were Russian nationals — more than any other nationality. The number included 46 Russian oligarchs and 19 Russian politicians.

“Frankly speaking, we didn’t see any hidden wealth of Putin’s inner circle there. I don’t know for sure, these publications will reportedly continue, but we haven’t seen anything special there thus far,” Peskov said, speaking to journalists Monday.

“It’s hard to understand what kind of information this is, what it’s about, and there’s a lot that invites questions there,” and therefore, “it’s hard to understand how this information can be trusted,” he said.

Peskov said there were no grounds for any kind of probe into the findings.

“Something should appear first, you see? For now, we’re only talking about some assertions based on something that’s hard to understand, and certainly, this isn’t a reason for any inquiries,” Peskov said.

By: Robyn Dixon

8:40 AM: Czech police promise to ‘act upon’ Pandora Papers, as revelations become election campaign topic

PRAGUE — The Czech national police announced Monday that it will “act upon” the Pandora Papers, as the revelations emerged as an election campaign topic in the country and became a potential challenge for Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is up for reelection this week.

The documents revealed on Sunday show that in 2009 he purchased a $22 million chateau near Cannes, France, with a cinema and two swimming pools, using shell companies that hid the identity of its new owner, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which shared the trove of documents with The Washington Post and other media partners around the globe.

In a tweet Monday, the Czech police department said its inquiries would go beyond the prime minister and include “all citizens of the Czech Republic who are mentioned.” The statement added, “We won’t provide more information.”

Babis’s political opponents jumped on the revelations on Sunday night and Monday morning.

“This is showing signs of corruption to the core,” Ivan Bartos, chairman of the Pirate Party, said on Czech television Sunday night. The chairman of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party, Petr Fiala, called it “a giant international scandal” and “a huge problem that the Prime Minister will have to explain.”

“For him, it is a big problem,” agreed Milos Brunclik, a political scientist in the Czech Republic, speaking to The Washington Post. “After all, he repeatedly portrayed himself as a fighter against nontransparent offshore business.”

Babis is only a few percentage points ahead of a rival alliance in recent polls, and the “Pandora Papers revelations may discourage some undecided voters who have been considering voting for Mr. Babis,” said Brunclik.

But he added that the prime minister has survived other political crises, partially by deflecting criticism and portraying it as part of a concerted campaign to force his departure from Czech politics.

Babis suggested Sunday on Twitter that the Pandora Papers revelations about him are part of an effort to “influence the Czech election,” and he said he had done nothing “illegal or wrong.” Speaking on Czech television on Sunday night, he said: “I paid all the taxes. This is completely absurd.”

“The money was sent from a Czech bank; it was my money, it was taxed, and then it came back to a Czech bank. I categorically deny [the allegations],” he said.

He also attacked the media outlets that were involved in the Pandora Papers, saying: “This is not an international consortium. This is the work of our [Czech] mafia.” He called one of the ICIJ partners, the Guardian newspaper, a “left-wing, neo-marxist and pro-migration” publication.

His response to the reports on Sunday came after the ICIJ and several of its media partners had unsuccessfully asked for comment on the 2009 purchase. After several outlets sent questions to the prime minister’s press spokesperson, the ICIJ said the press accreditations of three partner outlets for a campaign event were revoked.

Babis also ignored questions by a reporter working with a Czech ICIJ partner outlet, with a security guard elbowing her and telling her: “Go away!”

Noack reported from Paris.

By: Ladka Bauerova and Rick Noack

8:06 AM: Australia, Britain vow to investigate; Canberra warns tax evaders, ‘Your secrets are no longer safe’

 

LONDON — Australia and Britain vowed Monday to investigate the revelations leaked in the Pandora Papers, with Canberra warning potential tax dodgers that “your secrets are no longer safe.”

Australia’s Taxation Office said in a statement published on its website that “we don’t rely on data leaks to do our job” and that authorities would be independently “analyzing the information to identify any possible Australian links.” The office noted that it found the Pandora material “interesting.”

“The message is clear for those who try to cheat the system — your secrets are no longer safe, and you can expect to feel serious consequences for your actions,” said Will Day, the organization’s deputy commissioner and chief of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce.

In Britain, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak told Sky News on Monday that the department responsible for taxes would review the data “to see if there is anything we can learn.”

Lisa Nandy, a senior Labour Party lawmaker who speaks on foreign policy for the opposition, tweeted that “the tentacles of dark money exposed by the #PandoraPapers reach into the heart of UK democracy.” She said the party aims to make the United Kingdom “the most inhospitable place in the world for dirty money.”

By: Jennifer Hassan

7:16 AM: Jordanian media organization ‘got a call late at night, asking us to delete the story’

At least one news organization in Jordan that published a story on the secret documents was asked to remove the story from its website.

Approximately two hours after republishing a foreign news media report from the Pandora Papers investigation looking into the Jordanian king’s finances, the news organization’s management received a call from Jordanian intelligence asking that the story be removed from the site.

The journalist who wrote the story, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for both himself and his news organization for fear of retribution, said the organization was told its site was the only one that carried the news.

“We got a call late at night, asking us to delete the story,” the journalist told The Post. “They told us, ‘You’re the only site that published the documents. Delete the story.’ So I deleted the story.”

The Pandora documents revelations were not carried by other Jordanian media. On Monday, local organizations carried the statement released by the royal family denying any misuse of public funds.

Phone calls from intelligence branches are common in Jordan following sensitive stories, especially ones involving the royal family. In April, when reports circulated of a possible coup orchestrated by King Abdullah II’s half brother, news organizations got similar calls from intelligence branches asking that stories on the topic be taken down, or at least that a flurry of news items be published to push down the damaging news from social media and sites’ front pages.

By: Sarah Dadouch

6:32 AM: Russian official seizes on Pandora Papers to criticize United States

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed to the Pandora Papers — which expose vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars, including from tax authorities, creditors and criminal investigators — as a sign of U.S. failure.

She said on her Telegram channel that President Biden promised to fight corruption as a national security priority, yet the United States was “the largest” tax haven.

“According to the publication, billions of dollars in South Dakota belongs to those accused of financial crimes,” Zakharova said.

The Pandora Papers do provide new evidence that financial secrecy laws enacted in South Dakota and other states rival those in other offshore jurisdictions, leading foreign officials and wealthy individuals to put assets in U.S.-based trusts. The investigation identified more than 200 U.S.-based trusts holding combined assets worth more than $1 billion, including nearly 30 trusts that held assets linked to people or companies accused of fraud, bribery or human rights abuses in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

But there are more Russians than any other nationality represented among the nearly 30,000 beneficial owners of shell companies exposed in the trove.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists analyzed the beneficial owners of more than 27,000 companies in global tax-havens. Of those, it identified nearly 3,700 companies with 4,400 beneficial owners who were Russian nationals — more than any other nationality. The number included 46 Russian oligarchs and 19 Russian politicians.

By: Robyn Dixon

5:57 AM: Jordan’s king denies public funds were used to buy overseas mansions, says revelations could endanger his family

The recent purchase by Jordan’s King Abdullah II of more than $100 million in luxury real estate in the United States and Britain was paid for with the monarch’s personal fortune and not by public funds of any kind, according to a statement released Monday by the Jordanian royal family.

“Such allegations are defamatory and designed to target Jordan’s reputation as well as His Majesty’s credibility and the critical role he plays regionally and internationally,” the statement said.

The palace said there was nothing “unusual nor improper” in the king’s acquisition of high-end homes in California, Washington, D.C., and London as detailed in Sunday’s report by The Washington Post, which it said “distorted and exaggerated the facts.”

The king uses the homes for both official and private visits and to host foreign dignitaries, the statement said. Abdullah, in the statement, denied that the existence of his real estate portfolio, which includes three adjacent oceanview mansions in Malibu, was a secret. Rather, security needs dictated that details of the homes and their location were not publicized to maintain the family’s privacy and security, and reporting on the properties was reckless, the statement said.

“The act of revealing these addresses by some media outlets is a flagrant security breach and a threat to His Majesty’s and his family’s safety,” the statement said. The complex ownership structures revealed by the Pandora documents — an opaque structure of third-country holding companies that concealed Abdullah’s ownership — was also needed to maintain security, the statement said.

The family’s assertion that “it is no secret” that Abdullah owns luxury homes abroad is at odds with how little was known about the properties before the Pandora disclosures.

The files also show that Abdullah’s financial managers went to unusual lengths to keep his ownership from coming to light. Abdullah’s financial team set up dozens of shell companies, discussed ways around disclosure requirements in internal emails revealed in the Pandora trove, and at times avoided mentioning his name even among themselves. In one email, Abdullah’s financial adviser refers to him only as “you know who” on a roster of companies owned by the king.

The only known prior public reference to Abdullah’s estates in Malibu was in the Facebook feed of a contractor whose company had done renovation work at one of the properties.

And while the statement also said that Abdullah “uses these properties during official visits and hosts officials and foreign dignitaries there,” former U.S. officials who worked closely with Jordan said they were not aware of Abdullah’s ownership of the properties revealed in the Pandora documents.

By: Steve Hendrix and Greg Miller

5:01 AM: Former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair, wife defend purchase of luxury London townhouse

 

LONDON — Former British prime minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, are defending the method they used to purchase an $8.8 million London townhouse in 2017, after revelations that the pair avoided paying more than $400,000 in property taxes by buying a British Virgin Islands company that held the property.

The four-floor building now hosts the law firm of Cherie Blair, who said in a statement to the BBC, “It is not unusual for a commercial office building to be held in a corporate vehicle or for vendors of such property not to want to dispose of the property separately.”

The Blairs, in a joint statement to the British outlet, said that if they were to sell the four-floor property, they would be liable to pay capital gains tax.

Buying company shares from the family of Bahrain’s industry and tourism minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, instead of the London building saved Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, significant property taxes — although the couple and the Zayanis both said they didn’t initially know the other party was involved in the deal. Cherie Blair also said her husband wasn’t involved in the purchase.

Britain’s finance minister, Rishi Sunak, was asked during an interview Monday if the Pandora Papers bolster an impression that “London is the tax avoidance capital of the globe.” Sunak told BBC’s Radio 4 that “actually our track record on this issue is very strong” but said there was more work to be done.

On social media, the “Blairs” was a trending topic Monday morning local time, and some critics referenced Blair’s first speech as Labour Party leader in 1994, in which he accused Britain’s millionaires of “paying nothing” while the elderly took financial hits. In his speech, he vowed to create a “tax system that was fair.”

Blair has also previously denounced the use of loopholes, describing Britain’s tax system as “a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits.”

By: Jennifer Hassan

4:42 AM: What’s in the Pandora Papers trove

More than 11.9 million financial records were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them.

Read the full story

By: Kevin Schaul and Artur Galocha

7:29 PM: Dominican Republic president’s office touts his ‘transparency’

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader’s office says the Pandora Papers, which list him among the 14 world leaders who own assets in tax havens, highlight the Caribbean head of state’s transparency.

“The information gathered by the @washingtonpost and @elpais recognizes the transparency of President @luisabinader by noting that his sworn statement of assets includes all offshore companies managed under a family trust,” spokesman Homero Figueroa tweeted in Spanish.

According to reporting published Sunday, Abinader is among more than a dozen leaders who have assets in opaque financial systems that shield them from taxes. The Pandora Papers link the president to two Panamanian companies — Littlecot, owned with his sister and brother, and Padresso, of which the three siblings are shareholders.

Both companies, which were created to hold assets in the Dominican Republic, were established before Abinader became president.

Abinader told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that Littlecot holds a family property in the Dominican Republic. Padresso holds shares of six other entities that own properties and extensions of the private university owned by his family.

The president told the ICIJ that he owns offshore companies because “up until the end of 2008, the Dominican Republic’s legal system did not have an efficient and updated corporations law.”

When he was elected in 2020, Abinader declared both companies and at least seven other offshore organizations were grouped under a revocable trust.

By: María Luisa Paúl

7:28 PM: Chile’s president denies participation in the sale of a mining project

After the Pandora Papers revealed Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s involvement in offshore deals with his businesses that funded two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands in 1997 and 2000, his office released a statement denying his participation in the sale of Minera Dominga, a mining project that has been criticized because of its environmental effects.

“The aforementioned facts regarding the sale of Minera Dominga were already investigated in depth by the public prosecutor’s office and the courts in 2017, and the prosecutor’s office recommended terminating the case because of lack of a crime, compliance with the law and lack of participation of President Sebastián Piñera in the aforementioned operation,” the statement said in Spanish. “ … The president has not participated in the administration of any company for more than 12 years, before assuming the presidency.”

Piñera was Chile’s president from 2010 to 2014, then he returned to the office in 2018. As a candidate for his second term, Piñera promised that he and his family would put their holdings into blind trusts and cede control of the assets’ management.

The trusts he set up only applied to the family’s holdings in Chile, not to the offshore companies his children owned. The Chilean Center for Investigative Reporting found in 2017 that Piñera opened two offshore companies and later transferred their ownership to his children.

Minera Dominga, a Chilean mining company in which the president’s children owned a 33.3 per cent stake, used a shell company in the British Virgin Islands to sell their shares to the shell company of a businessman, Piñera’s friend Carlos Alberto Délano.

The deal was made in December 2010, about nine months into Piñera’s first term. Although the amount was to be paid in three instalments, the last payment was “conditional on there not being environmental protection imposed on the mining operations area,” said El País, an outlet that participated in the Pandora Papers’ reporting alongside the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and The Washington Post.

The third installment, for $9.9 million, was paid in 2011.

By: María Luisa Paúl

5:16 PM: ‘This is where our missing hospitals are,’ says humanitarian group Oxfam

Calling the Pandora Papers “another shocking exposé of the oceans of money sloshing around the darkness of the world’s tax havens,” the anti-poverty group Oxfam applauded the investigation and called for “immediate action, as has long been promised.”

Susana Ruiz, Oxfam’s international tax policy lead, said in a statement: “Governments’ promises to end tax havens are still a long way from being realized. We cannot allow tax havens to continue to stretch global inequality to breaking point while the world experiences the largest increase in extreme poverty in decades.”

She added: “This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.”

The investigation identified more than 200 U.S.-based trusts holding combined assets worth more than $1 billion.

By: Isabelle Khurshudyan

4:44 PM: Russian state media omits Putin’s mention in coverage of Pandora Papers

Hours after a massive trove of leaked private financial records revealed that a Russian woman acquired a luxury waterfront apartment in Monaco after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin, some Russian state-run media outlets are omitting any reference to the revelations about Putin.

State news agency Tass did not name any of the Russians implicated. The RIA state news wire focused its report about the documents on a political foe of Putin, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (The Pandora Papers revealed that Zelensky transferred his stake in a secret offshore company shortly before he won the 2019 election.)

But while the Kremlin and media outlets friendly to it have been mum on the findings about Putin and his associates’ wealth, Russian opposition figures rejoiced on social media. Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is serving a more-than-two-year prison sentence on charges international observers have condemned as politically motivated, gained fame by publishing detailed exposés accusing Putin’s inner circle of graft.

“It’s terribly funny how the RIA Novosti rag is covering the Pandora Papers — ‘Zelensky this, Zelensky that,’” Leonid Volkov, a close ally of Navalny’s, wrote on Twitter. He added that the revelations about Putin and other prominent Russians will then be dismissed as “inventions and machinations of the CIA.”

By: Isabelle Khurshudyan

3:52 PM: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pledges to investigate ‘all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers’

Facing calls for his resignation after members of his government were part of a leaked trove of offshore financial documents Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to investigate any of his country’s citizens who appeared in the documents.

In tweets that echoed his campaign-trail anti-corruption pronouncements, Khan criticized “ruling elites of the developing world,” who he said are contributing to thousands of poverty-related deaths. He said his government welcomes the leak for “exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites” and said global economic inequality should be viewed as a crisis akin to climate change.

“My govt will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action,” Khan tweeted.

The Pandora Papers are a collection of leaked financial documents that were disclosed Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with 150 news organizations in 117 countries.

The documents contain no suggestion that Khan owns offshore companies, but they detail the financial holdings of numerous high-profile members of Khan’s government, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and the son of Khan’s former finance adviser Waqar Masood Khan. They also show the offshore dealings of Arif Naqvi, a top donor to Khan’s ruling political party.

The files show how Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, a key political ally of Imran Khan’s, planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust, concealing them from Pakistan’s tax authorities. On Sunday a family spokesman told ICIJ’s media partners that, “due to political victimisation misleading interpretations and data have been circulated in files for nefarious reasons.” He added that the family’s assets “are declared as per applicable law.”

The Pandora Papers is the second ICIJ disclosure to become a political flash point in Pakistan. An earlier leaked trove of documents, called the Panama Papers, played a role in the sentencing and resignation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2017.

By: Aaron Gregg

3:50 PM: Pakistani party leader calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan

The leader of a prominent political party in Pakistan called for the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday after the Pandora Papers leak revealed members of his government held millions of dollars offshore.

Ahsan Iqbal, secretary-general of the centre-right Pakistan Muslim League, told reporters in Narowal that the documents leave “no moral justification for [Khan] to retain the post of the premier,” the television station Dunya News reported.

The documents contain no suggestion that Khan himself owns offshore companies. But they reveal the financial holdings of high-profile associates including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin and the son of Khan’s former finance adviser, Waqar Masood Khan. They also show the offshore dealings of Arif Naqvi, a top donor to Khan’s party.

The 2016 release of the Panama Papers played a role in the resignation and sentencing of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Khan ran on a platform of anti-corruption and harshly criticized his predecessor after the Panama Papers leak.

By: Aaron Gregg

3:38 PM: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis says he has done nothing ‘illegal or wrong’

PARIS — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is up for reelection this week, on Sunday suggested the Pandora Papers revelations about him are part of an effort to “influence the Czech election.”

On Twitter, Babis said he had done nothing “illegal or wrong.”

The documents revealed on Sunday show that in 2009, he purchased a $22 million chateau near Cannes, France, with a cinema and two swimming pools, using shell companies that hid the identity of its new owner, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which shared the trove of documents with The Washington Post and other media partners around the globe.

Throughout his time in Czech politics, the billionaire politician has cast himself as a populist adversary of Europe’s elite. In Czech TV talk shows, Babis has frequently emphasized that he and his companies pay taxes in the Czech Republic, said Jiri Pehe, the director of New York University Prague.

Sunday’s revelations are “significant,” said Pehe, because they undermine that key argument of Babis. “This of course puts him in a different light,” he said.

But Babis has survived other political crises in the past, and the Czech president, who largely holds ceremonial powers, could appoint Babis as the next prime minister even if Babis does not hold a parliamentary majority.

By: Rick Noack

3:31 PM: Jordanians defend, decry King Abdullah in wake of revelations of the ‘tomato’ scandal

The revelations of Abdullah’s lavish, secret spending immediately topped social media discourse in Jordan, although the topic was not mentioned on state media, local news or news websites in the first hours after the stories were published, according to readers in the country.

Multiple posters said that ICIJ.org, the site of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the group that unearthed the millions of secret documents behind the revelations, had been blocked in Jordan. But the site was soon accessible again, users in Amman reported.

ICIJ said its servers were briefly down Sunday following the publication of the Pandora stories by The Post and several other media sites, but it was unclear whether the collapse was due to a surge in demand or a deliberate attempt to disrupt the site. A spokesperson for the group said its servers came under an apparent attack two days before publication, with more than 6 million requests per minute hitting the system.

Many Jordanians were quick to defend the king on social media, calling the accusations defamation of the monarch. Others derided Abdullah over the reports of lavish, hidden spending. An old video clip of the king discussing the need to fight corruption and the theft of public funds resurfaced on many posts. Jordanians linked the word “Pandora” to the Arabic “bandoora,” meaning tomato, and images of the fruit quickly populated Jordanian Twitter, Facebook and Clubhouse accounts. Abdullah has previously claimed tomatoes, particularly a rustic Jordanian tomato stew, as his favourite food. “I bet qalayet bandoora is no longer his favorite dish,” one poster wrote.

But supporters of the royal family were quick to weigh in, sharing videos of the king backed by patriotic songs. “We will not allow insects and garbage to destroy this country, when push comes to shove we are with our leader,” one Jordanian tweeted. “We won’t respond to the tomatoes or anything else….”

By: Steve Hendrix and Sarah Dadouch

3:06 PM: What questions do you have about the Pandora Papers?

© The Washington Post; iStock

The Pandora Papers, the vast trove of documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, expose the offshore system government leaders, billionaires and criminals use to hide their assets.

On Monday at 3 p.m. Eastern time, two Washington Post reporters, Debbie Cenziper and Greg Miller, will answer your questions about the reporting published by The Post.

Cenziper is an investigative reporter for The Post and teaches investigative reporting at Northwestern University. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her investigation of housing corruption in Miami. Miller covers national security for The Post and was among the Post reporters awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Read the full story

By: Teddy Amenabar

2:05 PM: What are trusts, and how can they be abused?

Many stories in the Pandora Papers investigation involved high-profile people shielding assets by use of trusts and other offshore instruments. But what are trusts anyway, and how can they be abused?

Read the full story

By: Kevin Schaul and Artur Galocha

12:51 PM: Political players named in the Pandora Papers investigation

The files obtained in the Pandora Papers investigation detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. Among the account owners are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories, twice the number found in the Panama documents.

The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here are some political players of note mentioned in the Pandora Papers.

The Washington Post

Read the full story

By: Greg Miller, Debbie Cenziper, Peter Whoriskey and Ashlyn Still

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