WASHINGTON, October 3 (Reuters) – A massive leak of financial documents was published on Sunday by several major news agencies which allegedly linked world leaders to secret reserves of wealth, including King Abdullah of Jordan, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The dump of more than 11.9 million records, representing approximately 2.94 terabytes of data, came five years after the leak known as the “Panama Papers” which revealed how money was hidden by the rich in a way law enforcement could not detect.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a network of journalists and media organizations based in Washington, DC, said the files are linked to about 35 current and former national leaders, and more than 330 politicians and officials in 91 countries and territories. . He did not specify how the files were obtained and Reuters could not independently verify the allegations or documents detailed by the consortium.
King Abdullah of Jordan, a close ally of the United States, is said to have used offshore accounts to spend more than $ 100 million on luxury homes in the United Kingdom and the United States.
DLA Piper, a London law firm representing Abdullah, told the media consortium that he had “at no time abused public money or in any way used the proceeds of aid or assistance for public use “.
The Washington Post, which is part of the consortium, also brought up the case of Svetlana Krivonogikh, a Russian woman who, according to it, became the owner of a Monegasque apartment through an offshore company incorporated on the Caribbean island. de Tortola in April 2003, just weeks after she gave birth to a daughter. At the time, she was in a covert multi-year relationship with Putin, the newspaper said, citing Russian investigative newspaper Proekt.
The Post said his daughter Krivonogikh, who is now 18, and the Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment.
Days before the October 8-9 parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic, the documents reportedly linked the country’s Prime Minister Babis to a $ 22 million secret estate in a hilltop village near Cannes, France.
Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Babis denied any wrongdoing.
“The money left a Czech bank, was taxed, it was my money, and went back to a Czech bank,” Babis said.
The documents also showed how Indian businessman Anil Ambani and his representatives owned at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and Cyprus, according to the Indian Express, which is part of the ICIJ consortium.
Founded between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $ 1.3 billion, according to the report.
In 2020, following a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, Ambani – the chairman of Reliance Group – told a London court that his net worth was zero.
An anonymous lawyer, on behalf of Anil Ambani, told the Express: “Our client is a tax resident of India and has made disclosures to Indian authorities in accordance with the law. All required considerations were taken into account in the disclosures to the London court. The Reliance Group operates worldwide and for legitimate business and regulatory requirements companies are incorporated in different jurisdictions. “
Ambani did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Report from the Washington press room; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lincoln Feast.
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