The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, swiftly conquered Ukrainian politics on an anti-corruption agenda, but now it seems that Zelenskyy himself and his inner circle is trying to hide their assets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his inner circle owned a network of companies based in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and Belize. In addition to Zelenskyy, his top aide Serhiy Shefire and the head of the Security Service are a part of the network, according to reporting by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
According to OCCRP, Shefir and other business partners used the network to buy expensive real estate in London. Zelenskyy, it seems, knew that this would be problematic, and in 2019 around election time, he handed over his shares in the company to Shefir. It looks like the two of them made an arrangement, where money from the offshore would still land in the pockets of Zelenskyy’s family.
These allegations are based on documents leaked in the Pandora Papers, an enormous collections of millions of files leaded to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists from offshore service providers. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has then shared their information with OCCRP – both are well-known journalistic organizations.
OCCRP has been aided in their reporting by journalists from the Guardian. It seems, there is solid evidence that president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Serhiy Shefir are both the beneficiaries of offshore companies.
The leaks showing the businesses of the Ukrainian leadership is not by any measure the only interesting leak in the Pandora Papers. It would also seem that the Azeri president Ilham Aliyev is in a similar business. Three children and two close associates of president Aliyev used the same kind of offshore companies to buy penthouses, office space and a tavern in the middle of London.
The properties were held by a network of 84 offshore companies. It is not exactly a new story, that Aliyev owns millions in property around the world, but the holdings in the UK are much larger. At the most, the Aliyev family owned 694 million USD worth of London real estate.
Also Andrej Babis, the Czech Prime Minister, set up a British Virgin Islands company that secret loaned 15 million euros to other shell companies he owned. The money was invested in French luxury real estate. According to OCCRP, experts called it “a textbook example of money laundering.”