The Pandora Papers, a probe into the hidden wealth of monarchs, criminals and the rich in general that broke on Sunday is the work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a coalition on which the Washington Post collaborated.
The project is the “largest investigation in journalism history” and exposes “a shadow financial system that benefits the world’s most rich and powerful,” the ICIJ states on the Pandora Papers web page.
Journalists poured over more than 11.9 million records from 14 different offshore entities — too much for any one publication to handle.
Far from competing for scoops, participants have freely shared their research and analysis. The cache of confidential files obtained by the ICIJ has been provided to more than 150 media partners.
A report in the Washington Post focuses on financial trust firms located in the U.S. — specifically, in South Dakota, a state that is now “a global destination for wealth,” WaPo reports.
A “burgeoning American trust industry is increasingly sheltering the assets of international millionaires and billionaires by promising levels of protection and secrecy that rival or surpass those offered in overseas tax havens,” the paper notes.
In general, trusts can be used to shield wealth from tax authorities, creditors and criminal investigators. All parties named in the series been given the opportunity to comment, WaPo says.
One firm named in the series, Trident Trust Co., said it complies with all laws.
However, the series also exposes potentially embarrassing details on various world figures — and has already drawn reactions.
WaPo updates on Monday afternoon included denials by the Kremlin that anyone in Vladimir’s Putin’s inner circle stashed assets abroad. Jordan’s King Abdullah II denies public funds were used to buy overseas mansions, says revelations could endanger his family, it adds.A narrower ICIJ investigative effort in 3026, the Panama Papers, resulted in protests that forced two world leaders from power.