Pandora Articles Reveal How The Rich Use Real Estate
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It is once again time to check with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and their plutocrat-hunting expedition through the Pandora Papers, the massive leak of documents comprehensively showing how the world’s richest people and their celebrities the most famous move their money all over the world. globe in order to avoid paying taxes on any of them. This week’s lesson focuses on the usefulness of real estate transactions in doing this.
For Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, the property in question was a Los Angeles mansion. Arzu Aliyeva, daughter of the President of Azerbaijan, bought an office building in London. The Legion of Christ, a wealthy religious order dishonored by a sex abuse scandal, has poured millions of dollars into rental properties across the United States. Starr, Aliyeva and the Legion are among the hundreds of property owners or investors whose identity is revealed in the Pandora Papers …
The leaked documents expose billions of dollars in spending by the rich and famous – celebrities and politicians, oligarchs and other members of the uber-rich. And they not only buy luxury real estate, but also properties that are usually not associated with overseas purchases. Dairy farms in Tasmania, a shopping center in Uganda and rental housing in suburban America have all been purchased directly or indirectly through offshore companies or trusts, according to the records.
And there are real-world consequences beyond the gossip of the supermarket tabloids.
Real estate is a stable investment that often increases in value. By purchasing a property through a shell company, buyers can get tax breaks and protect their identity from law enforcement authorities and creditors. Secrecy also empowers criminals, including money launderers and drug cartels. Their trading in real estate through offshore companies shifts millions of dollars while avoiding scrutiny.
In the UK, a director of the National Crime Agency said he believed dirty money had “distorted” the London property market. The combination of asset security and secrecy has also made offshore holdings a haven for money and other assets from less stable economies. There is growing evidence to suggest that overseas purchases in the high end of the real estate market have a ripple effect, causing people to pay lower down the property ladder.
It’s also about how two former Canadian millionaires came to own dairy farms in Tasmania. Their father’s business made a fortune in old-fashioned Nigerian oil.
The Pandora Papers show that the two sons of a secret Canadian businessman bought four Tasmanian farms covering 2,550 acres in seven years. Heinrich’s brothers, Anthony and Stephen, used a complex offshore network, including a company in Singapore and two trust companies in Bermuda, to acquire the properties, according to confidential documents. One of the goals, according to a note, was to take advantage of a tax deal between Singapore and Australia in a way that would reduce their ultimate tax burden.
The brothers are the sons of Stephen Paul of Heinrich, who helped found Addax Petroleum, an oil company operating in Nigeria. Company executives are said to have paid multi-million dollar bribes to Nigeria’s petroleum minister in the late 1990s. The company’s Nigerian director has been convicted of money laundering in France. Elder Stephen Heinrich has not been charged with wrongdoing.
And then there is Vladimir Putin’s alleged girlfriend and his apartment in Monaco.
When a fourth-floor apartment changed hands for $ 4 million in the fall of 2003, the identity of the buyer was hidden behind a British Virgin Islands company. The Pandora Papers reveal that the real owner of the shell company and apartment was Svetlana Krivonogikh, a former economics student from St. Petersburg who had worked as a housekeeper to complete her college education.
At the time, according to media reports, Krivonogikh was romantically involved with Putin and, a few months earlier, had given birth to a daughter whose father is not listed in the birth certificates. Proekt reported that Putin is the father. Krivonigikh did not respond to requests for comment from ICIJ media partners.
The story also explains how the autocratic Aliyev family, who rule Azerbaijan, got into business with a public trust run by Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and how a group of Israeli settlers use an offshore shell to buy a property in East Jerusalem. The rich are different from you and me. Their money is everywhere.
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