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The Paradise Papers Shine Light on Kleptocracy

Sauat Mynbayev, the current chairman of Kazakh state oil and gas company KazMunaiGaz

The Paradise Papers comprise millions of leaked documents relating to offshore activities of the super-rich, including Queen Elizabeth II. A consortium of investigative journalists in early November started publicizing the activities and events documented in the Paradise Papers, many of which revolved around tax evasion and avoidance. Somewhat buried in the mound of data are a few nuggets of information that illustrate how kleptocratic governing systems in Eurasia operate.
 
A relatively tiny batch of the Paradise Papers sheds light on a little known private company, Meridian Capital, which in 2006 controlled assets worth over an estimated $3 billion. The Paradise Papers show that Meridian’s business interests are varied: among the entities it controlled during the period in question were a dozen oil and mining fields around the world, a major Kazakh rail transportation company, a large Latvian dairy producer and a Russian regional airport company.
 

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Thomas Mayne is a freelance researcher and writer from London. For twelve years he was responsible for Eurasian investigations at Global Witness, an anti-corruption NGO that campaigns to end the exploitation of natural resources. Peter Zalmayev is director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative (EDI, www.eurasiademocracy.org), an NGO with offices in New York and Kiev. Before EDI, Peter was head of the Central Asia Program at the International League for Human Rights. Zalmayev holds a Masters of International Affairs and the Harriman Institute Certificate from Columbia University.

The Paradise Papers Shine Light on Kleptocracy

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