A significant data leak of more than 11.9m files pertaining to the tax affairs of many rich, famous and political figures – dubbed the Pandora Papers – has shone a spotlight on people including Elton John and Shakira.
Also included in the report is the film producer Konstantin Ernst, the Vladimir Putin ally whose credits include Dovlatov and The Edge. He currently heads up a major Russian TV network, Channel One.
The report claims that, after Enrst produced the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, a deal was struck through offshore companies that saw him become a secret partner in a deal to buy 39 aging but valuable Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property at minimal prices from the city of Moscow, an agreement backed by the state-owned VTB Bank, which has strong links to Putin.
In a statement to the International Consortium Of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is behind the leak, Ernst denied any wrongdoing and said that the deal was not compensation for his work on the ceremonies.
There are thousands of people, including 35 world leaders, implicated in the report via various dealings through offshore companies based in tax havens.
One major focus of U.S.-based analysis by ICIJ member The Washington Post is a mysterious Malibu compound comprised of three adjacent cliffside lots that the paper says were snapped up between 2014 and 2017 for $70 million. The prime Point Dume properties, purchased with shell companies, were traced back to King Abdullah II of Jordan, according to the report.
The Papers also claim that celebrities including Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr all have links to companies based in offshore tax havens, as do 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including former UK PM Tony Blair. Reps for the stars denied any wrongdoing to the ICIJ and said their activities were in line with legal accounting practices.
Robert Durst, the real estate scion at the center of the HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst who was recently convicted of murder, is also alleged to have used an offshore account to hold a $1 million insurance policy on his second wife.
Governments have said that they will begin investigations into the data from the Papers in a bid to close any tax loopholes.