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Pandora Papers Show True Face of Global Britain

Pandora Papers Show True Face of Global Britain

Through its network of tax havens, the U.K. is the fulcrum of a system that benefits the rich and powerful writes Adam Ramsay. 

Cherie and Tony and Blair in 2003. The former U.K. prime minister and his wife are among those mentioned in the Pandora Papers. (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Perhaps more than anything else, the Pandora Papers — the tranche of documents published Sunday night, which reveal the secret wealth of the world’s rich and powerful — tell a story about Britain.

There’s the role, for instance, played by the British Virgin Islands, an overseas territory of the U.K. that functions as a tax haven. Czechia’s multimillionaire prime minister used the territory to hide his ownership of a chateau in France. Others, including the family of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vladimir Putin’s PR man, have made similar use of the islands to conceal wealth — while Tony and Cherie Blair reportedly saved £312,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London property from a company registered in the British Virgin Islands in 2017.

Then there’s London itself. The leaked documents show how the King of Jordan squirrelled personal cash away in the capital’s property market, as did key allies of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s president.

More details will emerge in the coming days. But one thing is already clear. This isn’t a story about countries on the periphery of the world economy. It is a story about how the British state drives a global system in which the richest extract wealth from the rest.

British Through & Through

Cayman Islands government administration building. (Kmanian345, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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