The elite of emerging Europe and the Pandora Papers


More than a few political leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have been embarrassed by the leak of the Pandora Papers.

On October 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released 11.9 million leaked financial documents, exposing the offshore secret accounts of 35 world executives and 100 billionaires, celebrities and business leaders.

The leak, dubbed the Pandora Papers, contains 2.9 terabytes of data that exposes the shady transactions of the global elite.

Several politicians from the emerging region of Europe are named in the leaks. Here’s a summary of everything we know so far.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš used offshore companies to buy luxury real estate in France

Just days before the Czech parliamentary elections, scheduled for October 8-9, the Pandora Papers leak implicated outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in what appears to be an attempt to hide the origin of the money used to buy 16 properties luxury real estate in France, including a castle and a summer residence.

According to and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Babiš created a British Virgin Islands company in 2009 which then loaned 15 million euros to other shell companies he owned in the United States and Monaco. .

The origin of the silver is unknown.

This is a blow to BabiÅ¡’s public image, as his political campaigns have often included anti-corruption and anti-tax evasion messages.

Babiš denied any wrongdoing and blamed “the Czech mafia” for the leaks.

The family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev have acquired properties in London worth 606 million euros

For years it was rumored that the property of the ruling Aliyev family in Azerbaijan abroad was worth tens or even hundreds of millions of euros. The new leak reveals just how vast the portfolio is.

According to the Pandora Papers, the Aliyev family and several associates have purchased prime real estate in London with a total value of nearly 606 million euros (US $ 700 million).

To hide ownership, a network of 84 offshore companies was used, according to the OCCRP survey. Although the legal status of the money is unknown, investigators revealed that at least eight of the offshore companies received millions of US dollars from three well-known money laundering programs dubbed the Azerbaijani, Russian and Russian “laundromats”. troika.

According to newspapers, some companies have been closed in recent years and some properties have been sold. In 2017, the Aliyevs transferred some 146 million euros to a secret trust controlled by President Ilham Aliyev’s father-in-law.

Also in Azerbaijan, the president’s daughter, Arzu Aliyeva, was revealed to have been the secret co-owner of a major building materials factory outside the capital Baku. The € 43 million factory was opened in 2011.

Officially, the plant was owned by Ashraf Kamilov, owner of Synergy Group and close business partner of the family of the president, Emin Nasibov and the offshore company Ergokon Ltd.

It is from this offshore company that Aliyeva became the beneficial owner when she was only 19 years old.

In 2017, the offshore company was put on hold and held no assets. However, according to the company’s LinkedIn page, it is now part of the PMD group, another company linked to the Aliyevs.

The offshore assets of Volodymyr Zelensky and his entourage

In 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky became President of Ukraine by promising to clean up the country and fight corruption. But as with Babiš, the Pandora Papers reveal significant offshore assets among his entourage.

According to the documents, Zelensky and his partners in production company Kvartal 95 have established a network of offshore companies, dating back to at least 2012. The offshore were used by Zelensky associates to purchase and own three prime properties. in central London.

Two of the partners in the offshore network, Serhiy Shefir and Ivan Bakanov, now hold senior positions in Ukraine. Shefir is Zelensky’s main presidential adviser while Bakanov heads the security service.

There is no sign that Zelensky himself was involved in real estate deals in London, but documents reveal him to be a key player in the network.

At the center of the web is a company called Maltex Multicapital Corp. In 2017, it was split between shell companies owned by Zelensky and his associates.

Along with his wife, Zelensky owned a quarter of the company through a shell, Film Heritage, registered in Belize. During the 2019 election campaign, Film Heritage sold its stake in Maltex to Shefir. A few weeks later, however, a document stipulated that Maltex would continue to pay dividends to Film Heritage despite Zelensky no longer holding a stake.

Offshore maneuvers end with unofficial third wife of former Kazakh president receiving US $ 30 million

Assel Kurmanbayeva’s relationship with former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has always been shrouded in mystery and has never been officially confirmed or denied.

Today, the Pandora Papers reveal that she benefited from a transfer of US $ 30 million from offshore companies linked to two oligarchs – Vladimir Ni and Vladimir Kim.

According to data gleaned from the leaked documents, this money transfer was structured as a sale in which Kurmanbayeva gave up a stake in a British Virgin Islands company, which appeared to have come to nothing. She received payment two months after Ni’s death in 2010 from a business taken over by her daughter. The documents name Kim as a witness to the payment.

As the document investigation reveals, in 2008 Vladimir Ni became a shareholder of a company registered in the British Virgin Islands called EMES Holding. His partner in this company was Kurmanbayeva.

A few weeks later, it acquired another offshore company, Ladra Services, to which its shares in EMES were transferred. In 2010, EMES was owned by two companies – Ladra Services from Kurmanbayeva and one owned by Ni.

Two months after Ni’s death, another company called Godel Partners paid Kurmanbayeva US $ 30 million for Ladra Services and the 50 percent stake in EMES that the company held.

Did Serbian Finance Minister Siniša Mali own 24 luxury apartments on the Bulgarian seaside?

In 2015, news broke that Siniša Mali, then mayor of Belgrade, was linked with US $ 6.1 million worth of real estate in Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast.

Mali has admitted owning only one apartment in a luxury resort, and has denied, and still does, ownership of such property.

According to Mali, his name only appeared in documents released in 2015 because he was helping a client under a trade deal.

The 24-apartment affair sparked enormous controversy in Serbia, but Mali was defended by President Aleksandar Vučić himself, and any notion of financial misconduct has been called a “media lie”. As mayor, Mali’s annual income did not exceed 34,000 euros while apartments in Bulgaria were worth millions.

But now OCCRP and the Serbian investigation group KRIK have discovered what they say is conclusive evidence that Mali owns all 24 apartments in Bulgaria.

According to the survey, Trident Trust, a supplier to offshore companies from the British Virgin Islands, has established two companies for Mali – Brigham Holding and Finance Inc. and Etham Invest and Finance Corp.

These two companies then bought the Bulgarian companies Erma 11 and Erul 11 ​​which owned the apartments.

Pandora Papers documents, according to the OCCRP, prove that Mali was the sole shareholder of Brigham and Ethan.

Soon after buying the apartments, Mali started selling them. Two were sold in 2013 and 2014 for a total of 120,000 euros. In August 2014, several months after becoming mayor, he transferred the ownership of the offshore companies to local lawyer Ana Panayotova who sold several other apartments. According to KRIK, Mali retained a connection to the properties even after officially relinquishing the property, as its signature was found in a document related to the properties from 2015. Mali had claimed that the signature was forged.

Following the new revelations, Mali again denied any wrongdoing and maintains that it owned the Bulgarian seaside properties.

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