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Pandora Papers: The offshore companies of UAE's Sheikh Mohammed

Sheikh Mohammed secretly registered three companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas to expand business, leak reveals
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Royal Ascot on 21 June 2017 (Reuters)

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum used three secretive offshore companies to expand his wealth, a massive data leak dubbed the Pandora Papers has revealed.

With 11.9 million files made public, the Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of mass leaks revealing the questionable financial dealings of countless world leaders and business tycoons.

Sheikh Mohammed, 72, is an influential figure in the United Arab Emirates. In 2006, he became Dubai's ruler, and the UAE's prime minister and vice president, following the death of his brother Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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He is also a billionaire businessman who owns the lion's share of two investment companies, Dubai World and Dubai Holding.

He reportedly owns a plethora of upmarket and luxury properties around Europe, using offshore entities registered in tax havens, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Sheikh Mohammed's name has regular made headlines over the past two years over alleged kidnappings - which he denies - of his two daughters and a court hearing in the UK with his youngest wife, Princess Haya, the sister of Jordan's king.

According to the ICIJ report, Sheikh Mohammed secretly registered three companies in the tax havens of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Bahamas to carry out his dealings. 

These companies were registered by the Emirati company Axiom Limited, partly owned by Dubai Holding, a conglomerate at which Sheikh Mohammed is the major shareholder.

The companies created in 2008 were Tandem Investco Limited and Tandem DirectorCo Limited in BVI, and Allied International Investments Limited in the Bahamas.

Axiom Limited, the parent company, dealing in mobile retailing and manufacturing, used these companies to "expand its core business", ICIJ claimed.

The two BVI companies have since closed, while the Bahaman one has been discontinued, but not liquidated.

Faisal al-Bannai, an Emirati cyber technology businessman, was the director of Tandem Investco Limited and Tandem DirectorCo Limited in the British Virgin Islands since 2011.

He was also a shareholder of Axiom Limited.

Using offshore companies is not illegal but highlights a practice wealthy figures use to avoid paying tax, amongst other things. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify ICIJ leaked files. No public statements have been made by Sheikh Mohammed or Bannai at the time of publishing.