LONDON — A massive new leak of financial documents has exposed how the president of Azerbaijan, as well as hundreds of other politicians and billionaires around the world, are linked with companies that use offshore tax havens to hide wealth.
The files from offshore companies, dubbed the Pandora Papers, involve some 35 current and former leaders and more than 300 officials.
The findings of an examination of the files — the largest organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) — were released on October 3.
The investigation found that the family of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and their close associates have secretly been involved in property deals in Britain, almost entirely in London, worth nearly $700 million, using offshore companies, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is part of the ICIJ consortium.
Most of these properties were purchased in cash.
The files show how the Aliyevs, long accused of corruption in the South Caucasus country, bought a total of 17 properties, the BBC reported.
Aliyev’s son, Heydar, owned four buildings in London’s Mayfair district when he was just 11 years old.
A $44.7 million block was bought by a front company owned by a family friend of the president in 2009 and was transferred one month later to Heydar.
Aliyev’s administration did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations, nor did members of his family.
The publishing of the Pandora Papers comes five years after the explosive Panama Papers investigation in 2016.
The ICJ obtained the trove of nearly 12 million confidential files from 14 financial services companies in countries such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Switzerland that set up shell companies and other nooks for clients.
A team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets spent two years sifting through them, tracking down sources, and digging into court files and other public records from dozens of countries.