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Pandora Papers: Document dump links world leaders to secret wealth

The leak of 11.9 million records comes five years after the "Panama Papers" exposed in detail how money was hidden by the wealthy.
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WASHINGTON — A massive leak of financial documents was published by several major news organizations on Sunday that allegedly tie world leaders to secret stores of wealth, including King Abdullah of Jordan and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The dump of more than 11.9 million records, amounting to about 2.94 terabytes of data, came five years after the leak known as the "Panama Papers" exposed how money was hidden by the wealthy in ways that law enforcement agencies could not detect.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a Washington, D.C.-based network of reporters and media organizations, said the files are linked to about 35 current and former national leaders, and more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories.

It did not say how the files were obtained, and Reuters could not independently verify the allegations or documents detailed by the consortium.

NBC News is not part of the consortium and has not been able to verify the accuracy of the leaked documents.

According to documents reviewed by the Washington Post, an alleged former mistress of Vladimir Putin became the owner of a luxury apartment in Monaco, financed by Putin's inner circle of oligarchs and loyal banks — the Kremlin brushed off the claims.

Jordan's King Abdullah, a close ally of the United States, was alleged to have used offshore accounts to spend more than $100 million on luxury homes in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan said in a statement on its website that coverage based on the leaked files "included inaccuracies and distorted and exaggerated the facts."

"It is no secret that His Majesty owns a number of apartments and residences in the United States and the United Kingdom. This is not unusual nor improper," the statement said, adding that details of the properties were not made public because of security and privacy concerns, not through an attempt to hide them.

DLA Piper, a London law office representing Abdullah, told the consortium of media outlets that he had "not at any point misused public monies or made any use whatsoever of the proceeds of aid or assistance intended for public use."

Days ahead of the Czech Republic's Oct. 8-9 parliamentary election, the documents allegedly tied the country's prime minister, Babis, to a secret $22 million estate in a hilltop village near Cannes, France.

Speaking during a television debate on Sunday, Babis denied any wrongdoing.

"The money left a Czech bank, was taxed, it was my money, and returned to a Czech bank," Babis said.

And it's not just world leaders: Elton John, Ringo Starr and Shakira are also named in the documents.