Three LatAm Presidents among scores of leaders and celebrities singled out by “Pandora Papers” research
Current Presidents Sebastián Piñera of Chile, Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador and Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic were listed on the so-called “Pandora Papers” among the world leaders and celebrities who have money saved in tax havens, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Besides them, other 11 leaders who have already left power were named by the research released Sunday, which also mentioned a total of 35 world leaders who carried out similar operations. Many view this new investigation as a follow-up to the 2016 Panana Papers case, also undertaken by the ICIJ.
The Pandora Papers uncovered how the world elite used a web of trusts and shell companies in places like the British Virgin Islands, Panama or the state of South Dakota in the United States to avoid paying taxes.
The investigation is based on 11.9 million files from 14 firms that created companies in tax havens. It is the biggest leak in history. It also surpasses the Panama Papers, which opened a worldwide debate on corruption.
Among the 11 former Latin American heads of state were Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru; Porfirio Lobo of Honduras; César Gaviria and Andrés Pastrana of Colombia; Horacio Cartes of Paraguay and the Panamanians Juan Carlos Varela, Ricardo Martinelli and Ernesto Pérez Balladares.
In the case of Piñera, it was revealed that he did business in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. These businesses included the sale of the Dominga mining project, an operation which involved businessman Carlos Alberto Délano, one of his childhood friends.
Piñera and his family were the largest shareholders in the Dominga project. However, months after arriving at the Palacio de La Moneda Piñera sold the mining project to Délano with an act signed in Chile for US $ 14 million and another in the British Virgin Islands for US $ 138 million.
The payment was supposed to take place in three instalments, although the last one depended on not creating an area of environmental protection for that mining project, as requested by environmental groups and something that Piñera decided not to abide by, according to Cypher and LaBot.
Lasso was a banker who came to operate 14 companies registered in tax havens, according to the newspaper El Universo. He got rid of those entities in 2017 before running for office.
Abinader was reported to be linked to two secret societies in Panama, which were created before he came to power last year, according to Alicia Ortega from Noticias Sin.
According to this investigation, Abinader appears as a beneficiary of these entities since 2018, three years after a law came into force that obliges companies to disclose their owners.
An investigation by Armando.info showed that a Panamanian law firm called Alcogal helped Venezuelan officials create 78 secret companies to hide some US $ 2,000 million from Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) in Andorra.
The Pandora Papers also question Brazil’s current Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and Central Bank CEO, Roberto Campos Neto.
Three of the richest men in Mexico have also been singled out by the Pandora Papers: Mining tycoon Germán Larrea Mota Velasco, Modelo beer group heiress María Asunción Aramburuzabala, and Olegario Vázquez Aldir, who runs hotels, insurance companies and news outlets, according to El País.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; former International Monetary Fund chief managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn; and singers Julio Iglesias and Shakira or Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola are also to be found on the report, which also claimed King Abdullah II of Jordan allegedly spent US $ 100 million on luxury homes in California and elsewhere, in addition to shedding some light on foreign donors to Britain’s Conservative Party
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unofficial minister of propaganda has also been listed by the ICIJ papers, which also involve people close to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, including members of his cabinet and their relatives, who were said to have millions of dollars in companies and entities outside their country.
Ecuadorian publicist Jaime Durán Barba who orchestrated Mauricio Macri’s presidential campaign and subsequent administration of Argentina was also singled out by the Pandora Papers, together with Macri’s younger brother Mariano and Zulemita Menem, daughter of former Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem.
Also mentioned by the Pandora Papers is the late Daniel Muñoz, a close aide to former President Néstor Kirchner.
Argentina is mentioned 57,307 times in the 11.9 million documents garnered by ICIJ to produce such a sizeable report which also mentions Argentine football stars such as Ángel Di María, Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino and the now-retired former national team captain Javier Mascherano, as well as Humberto Grondona, eldest son of former Argentine Football Association President (AFA) and International Football Federation (FIFA) Vice President Julio Grondona.
Besides Muñoz, who left his post as a presidential secretary in 2009 and died in 2016, the ICIJ documents also include financier Ernesto Clarens, closely linked to the Kirchner family.
ICIJ has warned that resorting to an offshore company or opening a bank account in tax havens is not a crime in itself, but it may become one of the final beneficiaries of the manoeuvres use these tactics to either evade taxes or launder money.
In the nearly 12 million documents 2,521 Argentine final beneficiaries are mentioned, which makes the country rank third, behind Russia (4,437) and the United Kingdom (3,501).