Volodymyr Zelenskiy has railed against politicians hiding wealth offshore but failed to disclose links to BVI firm
By Luke Harding, Elena Loginova and Aubrey Belford
3 Oct 2021
It was a storyline that in earlier times would have seemed impossible. For four years, the actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy entertained TV audiences in Ukraine with his starring role in the sitcom Servant of the People. Zelenskiy played a teacher who, outraged by his country’s chronic corruption, successfully runs for president. In 2019, Zelenskiy made fiction real when he contested Ukraine’s actual presidential election and won.
On the campaign trail, Zelenskiy pledged to clean up Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated ruling system. And he railed against politicians such as the wealthy incumbent Petro Poroshenko who hid their assets offshore. The message worked. Zelenskiy won 73% of the vote and now sits in a cavernous office in the capital, Kyiv, decorated with gilded stucco ceilings. Last month, he held talks with Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
The Pandora papers, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with the Guardian as part of a global investigation however, suggest Zelenskiy is rather similar to his predecessors.
The leaked documents suggest he had – or has – a previously undisclosed stake in an offshore company, which he appears to have secretly transferred to a friend weeks before winning the presidential vote.
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