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The politics at play in the Miami police chief saga and South Florida's connection to the 'Pandora Papers'

 City of Miami's incoming police chief Art Acevedo speaks during a press conference at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Monday, March 15, 2021.
MATIAS J. OCNER
/
MIAMI HERALD
City of Miami's incoming police chief Art Acevedo speaks during a press conference at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove, Florida on Monday, March 15, 2021.

This week may not have had the public meetings showcasing embarrassing videos or salacious accusations, but it was no less drama-filled when it comes to the fate of Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Acevedo has led the department for six months and he faces a majority of city commissioners probing his prolific social media footprint, his tenure leading other police departments, and his feather-ruffling actions.

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The Miami Herald reported that the chief may be gone soon, according to sources in the city. But this week, he turned in his plan to reform the department and his reputation.

WLRN’s Danny Rivero said Acevedo's reform plan was two dozen pages long. It outlined a plan to flood high crime areas with police officers and crack down on illegal liquor sales. The reform plan also includes an employee survey to gauge morale within the Miami Police Department.

“The hardest part of the plan is to improve relations with the city commissioners, the plan right now is for Acevedo to meet with commissioners in 90 days to discuss how to build long-term relationships," Rivero said.

The conversation also included WPLG Local 10 reporter/host Glenna Milberg, who has been following the saga for the station.

The Pandora Papers

For two years, more than 600 journalists across the globe combed through leaked financial documents that unveiled a vast web of secretive offshore financial activity.

The investigation, known as the Pandora Papers, was published earlier this week. Prominent people from nearly every corner of Latin American and the Caribbean have been found to shield or hide their wealth using shell companies and foreign banks.

Some of that money has made its way to South Florida. Wealthy Caribbean businessmen, Latin pop stars and even a high-ranking Roman Catholic cardinal from the Vatican were found to have used these methods, cloaked in secrecy, to buy property in the region.

Brenda Medina is a reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. She said reporters throughout the world came together “under the belief that this information is in the public interest.”

“A lot of this information should be public because it involves world leaders, but isn’t,” said Medina. “And that was what inspired the investigation.”

The Pandora Papers include 300 public officials, among them presidents and heads of state.

“The documents include a lot of records from companies that are in countries that are not the country in which the person resides,” said Medina. “It was mostly information about offshore companies belonging to public officials, but also billionaires and singers and soccer players.”

Miami Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles investigated several prominent Haitians in the Pandora Papers, including the country’s former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and billionaire Gilbert Bigio.

Bigio owns a multimillion-dollar home in Miami’s exclusive Indian Creek island. Charles’ reporting showed the home is held in the name of two corporations, one registered in Florida, the other in the Isle of Man.

“I think that was one of the things that was really interesting, at least from our region, is we saw how the wealthy in many of these countries, and in particular in a poor country like Haiti, how they basically shield their wealth either from tax collectors, that the government or from competitors or from others," she said.

Andrea Perdomo is a producer for WLRN News.