Pandora Papers: New Leak Exposes Balkan PEPs’ Hidden Riches
Following on from the Panama Papers and FinCEN files, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained nearly 12 million files from 14 service providers - bankers, lawyers, accountants, and registration agents - and shared them with more than 600 journalists around the world, including BIRN.
In total, 35 current and former national leaders appear in the leaks, alongside 400 officials from nearly 100 countries; Southeastern and Central European countries are no exception.
Milo Djukanovic, President of Montenegro, Andrej Babis, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and Sinisa Mali, a minister in Serbia, are among those mentioned in the files.
Data from the Pandora Papers include two politicians from Bulgaria who so far remain unnamed. Bulgarian National Radio also made the unsourced claim that 174 of the companies connected to the offshore affairs are based in Bulgaria.
Doing business through offshore companies is legal, but when it comes to "politically exposed persons," or PEPs, they should be subjected to increased scrutiny to make sure their money hasn't come from questionable deals or outright corruption. Revelations from the Pandora Papers show that service providers failed to comply with due diligence standards.
So far, only a portion of the stories has been published, with more to come.
Billions stored in trusts, villas and apartments
In the Pandora Papers, BIRN has discovered that the Bosnian engineering giant Energoinvest, which built the electricity interconnection line between Albania and Kosovo, paid more than 3.6 million euros to a small UAE-based consultancy headed by Vasil Kallupi, an Albanian businessman with political connections.
The project, ten years in the making and...