he anonymous leak Sunday of 11.5 million confidential documents belonging to a law firm in Panama detailing how rich, famous and powerful people hid their wealth raises fresh questions about global financial regulation. The Panama Papers show how 140 politicians from more than 50 countries, including 72 current or former heads of state, have links to Mossack Fonesca. The files, analyzed by 107 media organizations in 78 countries, reveal suspected cases of money laundering, sanctions evasion and tax avoidance.
Most of the people at the center of the allegations have not publicly responded to the breach of the vast trove of documents and data initially shared with the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. The leak includes emails, financial spreadsheets, passport information and corporate records from 1977 through to the end of 2015.
WHO IS ACCUSED OF WHAT?
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which helped coordinate the dossier’s publication, said the documents involve 214,488 companies and 14,153 clients of Mossack Fonseca. The firm said it has not committed any crime and is a responsible member of the global financial community.
Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson is accused of having an undeclared interest in his country’s failed banks which he then hid behind an offshore company, a portion of which he later sold to his wife for $1. He says he has not done anything wrong. He is facing calls for his resignation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s name does not appear on any of the records published Sunday. However, the documents show that many of his associates and close friends including musician Sergei Roldugin, godfather to his daughter Maria and the man who introduced him to his wife Lyudmilla, made millions from deals that would have been hard to do without his knowledge. The Kremlin has not commented. It did say ahead of the leak that an organization was trying to smear the president.
Syrian President Bashar Assad is linked to the Panama Papers through two cousins, Rami and Hafez Makhlouf. The brothers control key gateways to Syria’s oil and telecoms industries. For a period, any foreign firms that wanted to do business in Syria needed to be cleared by them. They have not commented, nor has Assad.
Argentina’s Mauricio Macri
Argentina’s president, son of an Italian-born business tycoon, did not declare an interest in a company called Fleg Trading Ltd, of which he was a director with his brother and father from 1998 when it was incorporated in the Bahamas to 2009, when it was dissolved. A representative for Macri said that the president did not declare that interest because he had no active funds in it. Macri did disclose other foreign-held accounts with balances of several million dollars in the United States.
An anonymous person leaked 11 million documents describing how the world’s rich and powerful hide money in offshore tax havens. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
The Australian Taxation Office said in a statement Monday it was investigating more than 800 wealthy Australians for possible tax evasion linked to their dealings with Mossack Fonseca. It said it had linked 120 out of the 800 individuals to an unnamed associate offshore services provider in Hong Kong.
Ukraine’s ‘chocolate king’
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whose business empire includes TV channels, a shipyard and car plants, was found to hold assets offshore that include a European candy manufacturer. Potentially more embarrassing for him, though, is that he is alleged to have become the sole shareholder of a company that was set up in the British Virgin Islands just as Russian troops were headed to Ukraine to fight alongside separatists in August 2014. He has also repeatedly vowed to purge Ukrainian politics of its long association with corruption. Poroshenko’s office said the offshore trust was in no way related to Ukraine’s military or political situation and that the trust followed accepted “market practice.”
SOURCE: Kim Hjelmgaard