Pandora Papers: a new leak reveals the hidden riches of the Balkan PEPs


The files would also establish a link between the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in a murky € 15million offshore deal to fund the purchase of a mansion in southern France – unfortunate timing, given this week’s general election in the country.

Articles describe how Babis in 2009 channeled 15 million euros via a succession of secret loans via three foreign companies he had created – from Blakey Finance Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands, through a company called Boyne Holding LLC in Washington DC to its subsidiary, SCP Bigaud in Monaco – before quitting. ‘it was only used to buy a chateau and a neighboring villa in Mougins, 15 minutes from Cannes on the French Riviera.

Analysts have described the reasons for this convoluted structure as confusing. There is no evidence yet that Babis has done anything illegal, except possibly failing to list shares in tax haven companies, which could result in a fine of up to 50,000. crowns, or a little less than 2,000 euros.

The source of the funds is also not yet known, which means that the French authorities could demand this information, and possibly seize the property if they do not receive a satisfactory answer.

Babis apparently did not respond to reporters at and foreign media working on the Pandora Papers project prior to its publication, despite being asked about the case during a televised election debate on Sunday.

Denying any wrongdoing, Babis said: “The money left a Czech bank, was taxed, it was my money and was returned to a Czech bank.

Montenegrin the authorities asked the public prosecutor to investigate Pandora Papers Results revealing that President Milo Djukanovic and his son, Blazo, have placed money in offshore accounts through two trusts.

Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic urged the prosecution to investigate the Pandora Papers leak, while Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic called on him to step down as president if he cared about the reputation of the State.

Djukanovic told the media that he built trust when he was not in public service and engaged in his own affairs.

His opposition party, the Democratic Socialist Party, DPS, accused the advocacy NGO MANS of supporting his political rivals in the new ruling majority and of “doing false business” over Djukanovic.

The Podgorica-based NGO revealed how a Swiss trust company helped Djukanovic set up two trusts in the British Virgin Islands in 2012. According to MANS, the Victoria Trust named Djukanovic as beneficiary, while the Capecastel Trust named his son, Blazo.

MANS director Vanja Calovic Markovic said Djukanovic opened the Victoria Trust using his diplomatic passport, while his son used a Montenegrin ID.

“Djukanovic and his son have several agreements hidden behind a very complex business plan involving several countries,” she said on Sunday.

“The Trust established by Djukanovic is a so-called irrevocable trust, which protects the signatories even in the event of criminal proceedings. This is what poses a problem because no institution would have known that he had done so if this information had not been disclosed, ”added Calovic Markovic.

Serbia‘s Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, KRIK, has uncovered definitive proof of leaks that Sinisa Mali, Serbian finance minister and former mayor of Belgrade, owned 24 luxury apartments on the Bulgarian coast.

Documents obtained by KRIK journalists show that Mali, as the owner of two offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, bought 23 apartments, and another directly under its own name, for a total value of around 5 million dollars. ‘euros. The sum exceeds Mali’s declared income by several times.

KRIK first reported in 2015 that the then mayor of Belgrade bought 24 luxury apartments in the Bulgarian resort town of Sveti Nikola on the Black Sea coast.

Mali, however, angrily accused the media of lying and admitted to having bought only one apartment, the one registered in its name. He claimed he was not behind the two offshore companies that bought the remaining 23 apartments.

According to KRIK, Mali owned these two British Virgin Islands offshore companies even after he became mayor of Belgrade.

Despite the well-documented cases, he was appointed Minister of Finance in 2018. Since becoming Minister, several apartments in Bulgaria have been confiscated or frozen, by banks and local tax offices. Mali has yet to react to the latest revelations.

Another Serbian PEP appearing in the leaks, Nikola Petrovic, is the former head of Serbia’s state-owned electricity transmission company and a former witness for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

He became the owner of a British Virgin Islands company created in 2016 through the Swiss consultancy firm Fidinam and Alcogal, a Panamanian law firm.

But, when setting up the company, Petrović never informed Alcogal that he could be considered a PEP, despite his proximity to the Serbian president. In addition, his Swiss lawyer assured Alcogal that Petrović was not a PEP. Petrovic’s story has yet to be released to the media.

The fugitive oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc of Moldova is another figure whose name appears in the Pandora Papers. Former exiled leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, PDM, is believed to have held around US $ 180 million in a trust fund in New Zealand, wrote local investigative media organization RISE Moldova.

Through this company, he alleges that he transferred money to his family living in Switzerland from 2011.

TO AUGMENT Romania meanwhile report than two Romanian politicians were involved in the Pandora Papers.

Unfortunately, the survey does not currently publish the names of Romanians. According to the documents, around 100 Romanian citizens and 21,175 documents contain the word “Romania”, but that does not mean that they are the only ones linked to the country.

Deutsche Welle Turkish reported that Turkish Billionaire and construction tycoon Erman Ilicak, owner of Ronesans Holding, had ties to two offshore companies, both listed in his mother’s name in 2014.

Both held assets in the family’s construction conglomerate. One of them, Covar Trading Ltd., earned $ 105.5 million in dividends in its first full year of operation, according to confidential financial statements.

The money was hidden in a Swiss account, but not for long. In that year, according to statements, the company paid almost all of the 105.5 million as a “gift”, listed under “extraordinary expenses”.

The statements do not describe who or what received the money. The tycoon’s company, Ronesans Holding, was responsible for building the controversial 1,150-room presidential palace of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and gigantic urban hospital campuses in several Turkish cities.

DW Turkish reported that the names of some 220 Turkish citizens appear in the Pandora Papers, including politicians, artists, businessmen and sportsmen. The story of Ronesans Holding is the first in a series of investigations.

In Poland, the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported Monday that businessman Rafal Brzoska, owner of InPost, reduced his tax contributions through smart financial transactions in Cyprus. Brzoska was declared the seventh richest man in Poland last year, thanks to his booming online shopping delivery business during the pandemic. His net worth is estimated at 5.7 billion zlotys, or around 1.5 billion euros.

According to Pandora Papers leaks analyzed by Wyborcza, Brzoska created companies in Cyprus to which his Polish company lent money, in order to reduce his taxable income in Poland; tax rates are much lower in Cyprus, a well-known European tax haven, than in Poland.

In Croatia, Ostro survey portal revealed the real owners of the Losinj Jadranka-based tourism giant and how it transferred millions of euros from Russia via tax havens.

Of this, 3.1 million dividends from the Russian construction company Velesstroy were transferred to Losinj to rebuild a restaurant destroyed by fire.

Although suspected for years, it has never been proven that Mihajlo Perencevic, the Croatian boss of Velesstroy, was behind the takeover of Jadranka in 2013. In 2015, Perenčević said Jutarnji list that his influence had been a factor in the takeover, but not his money.

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