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Pandora Papers expose how the world's ultra rich hide their money

A newly published investigation sheds light on secret offshore financial system.

Bree Fowler Senior Writer
Bree Fowler writes about cybersecurity and digital privacy. Before joining CNET she reported for The Associated Press and Consumer Reports. A Michigan native, she's a long-suffering Detroit sports fan, world traveler, two star marathoner and champion baker of over-the-top birthday cakes and all-things sourdough.
Expertise Cybersecurity, Digital Privacy, IoT, Consumer Tech, Running and Fitness Tech, Smartphones, Wearables
Bree Fowler
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King Abdullah II of Jordan spent more than $100 million on luxury homes in California and other locations, according to the Pandora Papers investigation.

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A new investigation by a global group of journalists has exposed a secret offshore system used by the world's ultra rich to hide their assets.

Dubbed the Pandora Papers, the probe by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a collective of more than 600 journalists in 117 countries, looks at more than 11.9 million documents that came from 14 different financial firms around the world. It's the group's largest investigation to date.

The Washington Post, which took part in the investigation, says the documents detail the activities of nearly 29,000 offshore accounts and include more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine. In addition, leaders of countries on five continents use the offshore system, as well as 14 current heads of state or government.

According to the Post, the revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in California and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ICIJ's previous investigation, labeled the Panama Papers and published in 2016, looked at more than 11 million legal and financial records of the world's power elite taken from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Its revelations set off protests in several countries and pushed two world leaders from power.