Last week, France's corrupt former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, was sentenced to a teeny weenie slap on the wrist, a slap so inconsequential that not only will it not deter any other crooked pols from committing an offense like this, it will encourage them, since they know now there is no accountability. Almost a decade ago Sarkozy, a corrupt conservative, was vying, unsuccessfully, for reelection. He spent an unaccounted for $50,000,000, twice the legal campaign cap. One year under house arrest with an electronic bracelet! and he has a very nice house from all the money he's stolen and accepted in bribes-- including about $55 million from Muammar Ghadafy-- over the years. Other convictions and charges are still pending, but he's still a hero to the European right and he's still spouting his lies in the media.
Perhaps you've heard about politicians from around the world being exposed as criminals in a new scandal: the Pandora Papers. Check out the video up top but keep in mind most of these pols can afford fancy lawyers and crisis management teams and, if worse, comes to worst they know they'll just get suspended sentences or a few months in their palaces and mansions "under house arrest." One of them everyone would love to see locked up in prison is slimy ex-British neoliberal, Tony Blair. Another is the self-styled "king" of Jordan.
The scandal involved 18 months of investigative journalism and "12 million documents detailing systematic tax-dodging by 14 firms that use off-shore bank accounts that hide the fortunes and assets of hundreds of wealthy clients." Did you know Kristi Noem and her Republican state legislature has turned South Dakota into a tax haven for these criminals? And they're all crying about how the super-wealthy shouldn't be taxed.
At least in Pakistan they sometimes hang corrupt leaders. Prime Minister Imran Khan probably has a private jet gassed up and ready to go on a moment's notice. So far they're just demanding his resignation, not his head.
Rich corporations and individuals used shell companies and secret trusts to hide assets ranging in yachts and jets, to mansions and insurance policies.
The records, the largest ever leak of confidential documents, were compiled and released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a worldwide coalition of media organizations.
Among those nabbed with off-shore accounts are 35 current and former world leaders, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who had hidden $106 million from the purchase of mansions in Malibu and elsewhere, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Included in those secret Malibu purchases is a mega-mansion overlooking a stretch of coastline where the famous last scene from the 1968 movie “Planet of the Apes” was filmed.
Companies affiliated with Abdullah spent nearly $70 million on luxury homes in Southern California between 2014 and 2017-- but dodged taxes on the ritzy purchases, according to the report. His property empire stretches from Malibu to Washington, DC condos, and trophy property in London.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the records-- but his alleged mistress is, to the tune of $100 million in “secret wealth,” the Washington Post said.
A shell company in the Virgin Islands purchased a ritzy Monaco apartment in 2003 for Svetlana Krivonogikh for $4.1 million, the papers show.
Krivonogikh has reportedly had a years-long relationship with Putin and has had at least one child with him, according to the outlet.
Also shielding their assets from taxes were Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Douglas Latchford, an indicted antiquities dealer linked to looted Cambodian artifacts-- whose art collections have been displayed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art-- allegedly used the offshore accounts to conceal profits from underground art trading.
Latchford was charged in 2019 with illegally peddling priceless ancient Khmer Empire artifacts by falsifying invoices and other records.
Tony Blair, Britain’s longest-serving prime minister, avoided paying more than $580,000 in property transfer taxes by purchasing an $11 million London mansion by buying the property through shares from a British Virgin Islands holding company, the papers show.
Colombian-born singer Shakira, who is already in tax trouble for allegedly not paying her taxes in Spain, set up offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands to conceal assets, according to the Pandora Papers.
The documents also highlight $700 million worth of London property owned by the ruling family in Azerbaijan, the Aliyevs. Leader Ilham Aliyev’s daughter, Leyla, who is highlighted in reporting about the Pandora Papers, was previously married to Emin Agalarov, the Baku-born rock star son of a billionaire developer who has had close ties to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Emin Agalarov and Leyla, his now-ex-wife, previously spent time raising their two children in a mansion in Alpine, New Jersey.
Sports figures, including Canadian Olympic figure skater Elvis Stojko and Formula 1 race car driver Jacques Villeneuve, also made the lengthy list.
The records, with 2.94 terabytes of data, dwarf the Panama Papers in size.
35 current and former world leaders have been exposed so far. There will be more-- hundreds-- in coming days and weeks. Many of them have looted their countries. Few if any will face justice. Everyone is waiting to see how many Trump officials and family members will be named in the scandal.