Pandora Papers: Guardiola used company in Panama to hide ownership of Andorran account
Investigation reveals offshore deals of billionaires, public officials, celebrities and world leaders
More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have analyzed 11.9 million documents over the last two years from 14 law firms that specialize in creating offshore companies in tax havens around the world.
The result: the Pandora Papers. They reveal the offshore deals of current and former world leaders such as Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin, as well as public officials, more than 100 billionaires and well-known figures from the worlds of music and sport, including Elton John, Shakira and Pep Guardiola.
Television station La Sexta and newspaper El País uncovered more than 700 offshore entities with links to Spain. They are just two of the media organizations that took part in the investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which includes the likes of The Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde to name but a few.
Among those named in the Pandora Papers is former FC Barcelona player and manager Pep Guardiola. He had a current account in Andorra, which was not disclosed to the tax authorities until 2012, when he accepted the fiscal amnesty offered by the Spanish government, led at the time by Mariano Rajoy. The agreement saw Guardiola declare almost €500,000 that was in the account, paying 10% on the interest he had earned in the previous four years.
According to the Pandora Papers, Guardiola is named as a representative of Repox Investments, a Panama-based company linked to the Andorran account.
Lluis Orobitg, financial advisor to the current Manchester City manager, has explained that the money in the account consisted of Guardiola's earnings while playing for the Qatari club Al Ahli between 2003 and 2005.
He said that it was impossible for Guardiola to obtain a residency certificate while living and working in Qatar. They decided to have his salary paid into an Andorran account, where he was not obliged to pay taxes as a non-resident. Orobitg says they did not use a Spanish account because they feared that the tax office would not accept Guardiola was not resident, in the absence of a certificate from Qatar.
Orobitg has said that Repox Investments was essentially a shell company, set up on the advice of the Andorran bank in order to hide Guardiola's identity as the real owner of the account.
Guardiola is not the only football manager who appears in the Pandora Papers, with current Real Madrid manager, the Italian Carlo Ancelotti, also named.
Juan Carlos I
The investigation also says that Corinna Larsen, who had a relationship with the former king of Spain, Juan Carlos I, made plans in 2007 for managers of a New Zealand-based trust called Peregrine, to transfer money from an investment fund to Juan Carlos, in the event of her death.
The documents, which are unsigned and which Larsen's lawyer claims are fake say that "30% of the income from the Hispanic Saudi Investment Fund" should be given to the former monarch.
Juan Carlos left Spain for the United Arab Emirates in August 2020 to protect the image of the royal family and the current king, his son Felipe VI.
In February 2021 he paid the Spanish tax office €4.396m for previously undeclared income relating to flights on a private jet.
Spanish tax agency
The Spanish tax agency has said it will investigate any potential fraudulent or criminal activity uncovered by the ICIJ reports.
According to El País, the documents contain 601 people with Spanish nationality and 751 offshore firms linked to individuals or companies with addresses in Spain. Most have used Andorran or Spanish law firms as intermediaries in their offshore deals in places such as Belize, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and the Cook Islands.