Pandora Papers: Secret wealth of world leaders, billionaires exposed

- Advertisement - [resads_adspot id="2"]

A vast trove of documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which involved more than 600 journalists in 117 countries and territories.

A massive leak of financial documents was published by several major news organizations on Sunday that allegedly tie world leaders to secret stores of wealth.

The dump of more than 11.9 million records, amounting to about 2.94 terabytes of data, came five years after the leak known as the “Panama Papers” exposed how money was hidden by the wealthy in ways that law enforcement agencies could not detect.

The Washington, DC-based ICIJ said the files are linked to about 35 current and former national leaders, and more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories. It did not say how the files, which detail the activities of nearly 29,000 offshore accounts, were obtained.

Malaysians revealed in the Pandora Papers include:

Daim Zainuddin

Malaysiakini reported that the companies and trusts held by Daim’s children, wife or known business associates jointly were worth at least £25 million.

Daim’s sons, Muhammed Amir Zainuddin Daim and Muhammed Amin Zainuddin Daim were named owners of a British Virgin Islands (BVI) firm Newton Invest & Finance Limited (BVI) in 2007 when they were nine and 12, respectively.

Daim has played down the exposé linking his family and known business associates to companies and trusts said to be worth RM141 million.

The former finance minister told Malaysiakini that he had “no knowledge or control” of these entities, although he acknowledged that some belong to his children.

“I’ve retired from business for some time already, and trusts are part of estate planning,” he was quoted by the portal as saying.

Daim also said all taxes had been fully paid in “every jurisdiction where he does business and where income was earned”.

Tiong brothers

Tiong Hiew King and Tiong Ik King are listed as the ultimate owners of IB Holdings Limited, a company incorporated in the Cook Islands in 1990.

Hiew King is the founder and chairperson of timber company Rimbunan Hijau Group, which also runs the Chinese language newspapers Sin Chew Daily and Guan Ming Daily.

The purpose of IB Holdings is stated as investment and timber products trading.

IB Holdings appears in the Pandora Papers as part of a document leak from Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based financial services company.

Ik King, who previously appeared with Hiew King as owners of IB Holding, is stated to be the sole beneficial owner of Roxton Investments, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Roxton is stated to be an investment holding company with its portfolio held by JP Morgan.

As of 2017, the company is stated to have US$20 million in assets.

Lim Kok Thay

Documents from the Pandora Papers have shown a link between Genting Group chairperson Lim Kok Thay and Azure Supreme Limited, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Jho Low’s parents

Larry Low Hock Ping and Goh Gaik Ewe, Jho Low’s parents, are linked to Coswell Corporation and Strategic Equities Limited.

Coswell was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 1991 via Trident Trust (BVI) Limited with Low and Goh as the sole shareholders.

The stated purpose for Coswell was property investment in London with an asset value of US$2 million, while Strategic Equities was to hold shares in Frencken Group Ltd (valued at US$5 million).

Frencken Group is an industrial and precision machine manufacturer incorporated in Singapore.

As recent as 2017, Low and Goh were still listed as clients of Trident Trust despite links to the 1MDB scandal.

Low and his wife left Malaysia in 2018, and their current whereabouts are unknown.

ICIJ does not rule out more revelations about offshore schemes used by the world’s richest and most powerful people in the coming days, months or even years as the group is combing through 12 million files.

They were also open to the idea that new prominent names might emerge over the course of the investigation.