Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?

Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?

On October 3, a secret leak occurred information about the offshore companies of 330 officials and politicians from 90 countries, including 35 leaders, 130 billionaires, arms dealers, pop stars and international criminals. The Pandora Papers files include ministers, mayors, ambassadors, generals, bankers, presidential advisers, and presidents themselves. The investigation was conducted by 600 journalists belonging to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists from 117 countries. Read today in USA.ONE magazine:

Pandora Papers opened the "offshore box"

Ukrainian politicians are the most prominent in it, and Vladimir Zelensky is no exception.

What is Pandora Papers? Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?photo: aljazeera.com

It took ICIJ journalists 2 years to process 2.9 TB of information on 11.9 million offshore documents. They believed that their investigation into the financial fraud of politicians around the world had opened Pandora's box, hence the name — Pandora Papers. The journalists shared documents spanning 50 years with 150 media partners, launching the most global collaboration in the history of journalism. In particular, they contain information about more than 29 thousand beneficial owners, which is 2 times more than the owners of offshore companies identified 5 years ago during the Panama Papers investigation.

Thanks to Pandora, it became known about 6.4 million documents, 3 million images, over a million emails and about half a million spreadsheets. It is unclear who became the source of the leak, but it is reported that this is data from 14 offshore registrar companies located in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Panama, UAE, Belize, Switzerland and Singapore. Among the 336 politicians convicted of financial fraud, the largest number are Ukrainian — 38. According to ICIJ estimates, the amount of hidden income ranges from 5.6 to 32 trillion dollars. Due to the transfer of funds to offshore companies, governments lose about $600 billion annually.

The Virgin Islands turned out to be a favorite place for hiding income among politicians. There are 950 offshore companies associated with them. Moving money offshore is not a crime in itself, but using an intricate network of confidential companies to move funds and assets is an excellent way to hide the proceeds of crime. ICIJ journalists have uncovered the secret transactions of hundreds of billionaires and officials, as well as dozens of world leaders around the world. Among the most famous and influential are Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Vladimir Zelensky.

How is the President of Ukraine involved in the withdrawal of money from PrivatBank? Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?photo: economics-prorok.com

Vladimir Zelensky and his entourage may be involved in the transfer of $40 million from structures associated with Igor Kolomoisky. During the election campaign in 2019, it became known that in the spring of 2012 "Kvartal 95" registered over 10 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and Belize. The Maltex Multicapital Corp company was divided between Zelensky's companies, the Shefir brothers and Andrei Yakovlev, a screenwriter at the studio "Kvartal 95".

The nominal owner of the company was Davegra Limited, the head of which was the current head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov. It was he who signed the “trust declaration”, which recorded the relationship between the nominal and real owner of the company. That is, Bakanov’s company acted as the nominal owner of Maltex Multicapital Corp in order to hide Vladimir Zelensky and his associates.

According to the Pandora Papers, the $40 million was a formal contribution to the company's authorized capital. The structures that transferred the "Kvartalovites" money, suspected of laundering finances from PrivatBank, co-owned by Igor Kolomoisky. The money transfer was carried out through the Cyprus branch of PrivatBank. From the documents it becomes clear that at least one company "Kvartal 95" I had an account in this bank. To the question "Why "kvartalovites" offshore?" Only Boris Shefir answered:

"And ask it to the legislators who created such a situation. Business is under constant threat from bandits coming to power. At that time, it was extremely important to protect one’s interests."

What is known about the offshores of Zelensky and his circle? Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?photo: Reddit

In 2012, Vladimir Zelensky and his associates created a network of offshore companies that own luxury real estate in London, the value of which amounts to millions of dollars. For example, Sergei Shefir is the owner of two apartments in the capital of Great Britain, the price of which is more than $5 million. Screenwriter at studio "Kvartal 95" Andrey Yakovlev is the owner of a home worth 2 million. In total, the Pandora Papers documents list at least 681 owners of luxury real estate in the UK, of which more than 10 are Ukrainians hiding assets through offshore companies.

In June 2014, 6 days after the appointment of Boris Lozhkin as head of presidential administration Petro Poroshenko, his daughter Anastasia purchased an apartment in London worth $4.6 million. She borrowed money from the Virginia company Future Definite Holdings Limited, owned by… her father Boris Lozhkin. At least 9 properties in Britain belong to Gennady Bogolyubov, whose name is involved in the scandal with the withdrawal of money from PrivatBank. In the center of the capital, Igor Voronin and Alexander Yaroslavsky have property. Another 5 properties are registered in the name of the daughter of Sergei Kivalov, the former head of the Central Election Commission. They were purchased in 1999-2003 through offshore companies.

In 2016, Minister of Culture Alexander Tkachenko was the general producer of the TV channel "1+1" and received a quarter of the shares of the state film studio in Odessa. In 2018, his partner was the developer Andrey Vavrysh, who was interested in building real estate "for film crews" on the territory of the film studio. The development was illegal, but only until Tkachenko became head of the parliamentary committee on humanitarian and information policy. Next, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on the conditions for the privatization of state film studios. Tkachenko himself stated that in 2020 he sold his share to banker Alexander Morozov. The transaction amount was not indicated in the declaration.

How was money withdrawn from PrivatBank? Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?photo: quora.com

Private correspondence between international providers Triden Trust and Cititrust suggests that these companies may be involved in withdrawing funds from PrivatBank. The activities of offshore companies associated with Igor Kolomoisky and Gennady Bogolyubov were investigated by the regulatory authorities of Belize and Cyprus even before the nationalization of PrivatBank. One of these companies, Jarvis Trading Limited, received a loan from the bank for $86 million in 2010.

A year later, financial monitoring of Belize contacted Cititrust to find out the identity of the owner of Jarvis Trading Limited, but the provider refused to disclose his name. The Triden Trust company left unanswered a request from the Cypriot authorities about the real owner of the company Ravenscroft Holdings. But in both cases, the real owners of the companies were people from Kolomoisky’s entourage.

According to Pandora Papers, MP Alexander Gerega also had a network of offshore companies. According to documents, he and his wife are the owners of 5 companies in Cyprus, which belong to them through the Gold Taurus Stiftung and Fundationsanstalt funds. Gerega's company Edlagor Enterprises Limited owns the "Novacenter K" — construction and household hypermarkets in Crimea, which exist, in particular, in Simferopol and Sevastopol.

In 2014, representatives of Rinat Akhmetov turned to Triden Trust with a request to register 2 offshore companies for the purchase of a Falcon 7X business class aircraft , whose value exceeds 50 million dollars. The same plane was once owned by the presidents of Russia and France. Triden Trust collaborated with the oligarch at least until 2018.

How did Zelensky’s Office react to Pandora Papers? Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?Offshore scandal: what is Pandora Papers and what does Zelensky have to do with it?photo: actual.today

The Office of the President of Ukraine claims that it complies with all norms of anti-corruption legislation, and the offshore schemes of 2012 were “features of the market.” Advisor to the head of the OPU, Mikhail Podolyak, said:

"The business of the pre-presidential years was never associated with state money or administrative capabilities."

According to him, after the inauguration, Vladimir Zelensky complies with the requirements of anti-corruption legislation and journalists have nothing against him after 2019. Advisor to Andrei Ermak says that the Pandora Papers investigation contains “a lot of conspiracy theories and assumptions,” and most of the information was already voiced by Zelensky’s opponent Petro Poroshenko during the elections.

"Strange update this information now. Then Yanukovych was in power, and Poroshenko was the Minister of Economy. At that time, it was logical for businesses in the country to legally protect their companies and finances from unlawful seizure by corrupt officials," — he added.

According to Podolyak, the business studio "Kvartal 95" remains "white" and transparent. And attempts to link him to the history of PrivatBank are pure conspiracy theories and are not based on facts. However, while Vladimir Zelensky imitates the fight against corruption and oligarchs, Igor Kolomoisky continues to take a bite out of his former property — PrivatBank, taking advantage of the unreformed judicial system and complete stagnation in law enforcement investigations into financial fraud in the bank.

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