Catholic Order, Nigerian Pastor, and Disgraced Cardinal Are Among Those Revealed in Pandora Papers Scandal

Members and supporters of the Legionaries of Christ, the controversial Roman Catholic religious order established in Mexico, have set up an offshore scheme over the last decade that moved millions of pesos in Mexico. Under an elaborate structure they hid companies under other companies as if they were Russian dolls, with the aim of hiding the fact that the beneficiary of all of those businesses was one of the most powerful religious orders in the world. The Pandora Papers, the latest batch of leaked documents to which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has had access, and a project in which EL PAÍS has taken part, reveals how the companies that they used invested at least $18.5 million (383 million pesos) in an exotic portfolio in Mexico, which included everything from oil exploration and dietary supplements, to investment funds specializing in artificial intelligence and movie production.

The network of trusts and subsidiaries set up by priests and businessmen close to the congregation moved as much as $295 million across four continents. Two companies based in the United Kingdom were in charge of commercial operations. Their cash flow came from interest-free loans made by AlfaOmega Trust and Salus Trust, two trusts opened in New Zealand by the longtime financial planner of the Legion, Luis Garza Medina, and two of his brothers. The end beneficiary of the scheme, and which received the profits, was a third trust created by the religious order, according to more than a thousand emails and contracts reviewed as part of this investigation. The Legionaries of Christ deny controlling the trusts that made the investments, and only admit to having control over the third entity (RMCT), which received all the profits. They assert that it is incorrect to describe them as responsible for the movement of funds.

The money flowed through Swiss bank accounts to investments mainly in Mexico and the United States. One of the subsidiaries used, AOG Investments, reported investing some $20.2 million in Mexican companies until 2019, according to filings in the United Kingdom. Appearing on the list is the Unión de Créditos Industriales de Nuevo León – a kind of industrial credit union in northern Mexico – as well as companies that offer mortgages or home-development projects for seniors throughout the country. Neither the Legionaries of Christ nor the trustees have been willing to clarify whether these movements were reported to the Mexican tax authorities.

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Source: El Pais

Nigeria’s former CJN, governors, pastors named in Pandora Papers

A number of high-profile persons in Nigerians have been named in the Pandora Papers scandal for flouting “extant laws and legislations as they hide these assets,” Premium Times reported.

Pandora Papers investigation — involving some 600 journalists from media including The Washington Post, the BBC, The Guardian, and Nigeria’s Premium Times — is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.

In all, there are 336 politicians listed in the document, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the earth-shaking papers on Sunday. The document contains some Nigerian politicians.

Premium Times said contents of the document will reveal how some of the most influential Nigerians – a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, current and former state governors, past and present lawmakers, businesspeople, a popular pastor, and many others – set up shell companies, and sometimes warehouse huge financial assets, in notorious secrecy jurisdictions.

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Source: the Guardian

Pandora Papers: The disgraced cardinal, his moneyman, an Elton John biopic and Miami condos

When Roman Catholics toss money into the collection plate, few probably expect their charitable giving to underwrite an Elton John biopic, help build a North Carolina highway, pad the pockets of the cardinal’s relatives — or wind up linked to a shell company used by a financial adviser to purchase high-end South Florida properties.

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Source: Miami Herald