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6 Oct, 2021 13:05

Pandora Papers hurt Ukraine’s chances of joining NATO & EU by painting country as sleazy offshore haven, ex-foreign minister warns

A series of purported revelations showing how the world’s ultra-wealthy hide their cash from the taxman have painted Ukraine as one of the dodgy-dealing capitals of the world, the country’s former foreign minister has cautioned.
Pandora Papers hurt Ukraine’s chances of joining NATO & EU by painting country as sleazy offshore haven, ex-foreign minister warns

In a statement on Tuesday, Pavlo Klimkin said that the Pandora Papers scandal disproportionately cast Ukraine in a negative light. According to the former top diplomat, the scale of unaccountable business transactions taking place has created the impression that the Eastern European nation is “a country of offshore companies” for the whole world.

“Throughout the dealings with offshores, I really dislike the signals that have been sent around the globe. It is seen clearly that Ukraine is first place in the number of those who use these offshore firms,” Klimkin said.

“Who will seriously talk with us about membership of NATO and the EU if even Ukrainians don’t trust their country? Who can trust those who don’t even trust themselves? The damage from this offshore story to Ukraine’s reputation is difficult even to grasp and it will trouble us for a long time.”

The Pandora Papers amount to a series of leaks of confidential data to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) last week, and have since been picked up widely in Western media. The 12 million financial files in many cases show how high net-worth individuals use strings of foreign companies to hide their investments from tax authorities and shield the true identity of those buying up property and other assets.

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Many of the revelations purported to lead back to the “inner circle” of Russian President Vladimir Putin but, despite being featured heavily in the coverage, Putin was not mentioned in the papers and examples of concrete ties are scarce. In addition, commentators have questioned why none of those exposed were Americans, which some have suggested is tied to the fact that the OCCRP is funded by the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of State.

Ukraine has been embroiled in a series of rows over corruption and grift in recent months, with President Volodymyr Zelensky insisting he aims to improve transparency under the terms of agreements with the EU. However, in August, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid revealed that she advises her citizens “not to invest in Ukraine” because they “may lose their investment” due to corruption and a lack of effective legal institutions.

Also on rt.com Don’t invest in Ukraine, says Estonian president, warning corrupt courts could see those sending money to Kiev lose their cash

Just days beforehand, Zelensky had hit out at US President Joe Biden over suggestion that Kiev would have to “clean up corruption” before it would be accepted into the NATO military bloc.

“It’s very popular to accuse Ukraine of corruption, and it’s not that I hold these views only since I became president, but I’ve always felt offended by this,” Zelensky told reporters. “Because you know what? No country is free of corruption.”

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