World figures deny wrongdoing as 'Panama Papers' turn spotlight on tax evasion

April 4th, 2016  |  Source: Reuters

Governments across the world began investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful on Monday following a leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm which allegedly showed how clients avoided tax or laundered money.

The documents detailed schemes involving an array of figures from friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin to relatives of the prime ministers of Britain, Iceland and Pakistan and as well as the president of Ukraine, journalists who received them said.

While the "Panama Papers" detail complex financial arrangements benefiting the world's elite, they do not necessarily mean the schemes were all illegal.

The Kremlin said the documents contained "nothing concrete and nothing new" while a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said his late father's reported links to an offshore company were a "private matter".

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson could not immediately be reached for comment on the naming of his wife in connection with a secretive company in an offshore haven which brought opposition calls for him to resign.

Pakistan denied any wrongdoing by the family of Prime Minister Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after his daughter and son were linked to offshore companies. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has not commented on his reported offshore links.

Australia, Austria, Brazil, France and Sweden were among countries which said they had begun investigating the allegations, based on more than 11.5 million documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, located in the tax haven of Panama. Banks as well as individual clients came under the spotlight.

The documents were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 100 other news organizations. Mossack Fonseca has denied any wrongdoing.

"I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents," ICJC director Gerard Ryle said.

ARMS AND DRUGS?

The material covers a period over almost 40 years, from 1977 until last December, and allegedly show that some companies domiciled in tax havens were being used for suspected money laundering, arms and drug deals, and tax evasion.

Britain's Guardian newspaper said the documents showed a network of secret offshore deals and loans worth $2 billion led to close friends of Putin, including concert cellist Sergei Roldugin. Reuters could not confirm those details.

Putin's spokesman dismissed the reports, saying they aimed to discredit him ahead of upcoming elections.

"This Putinophobia abroad has reached such a point that it is in fact taboo to say something good about Russia, or about any actions by Russia or any Russian achievements. But it's a must to say bad things, a lot of bad things, and when there's nothing to say, it must be concocted. This is evident to us."

The British government asked for a copy of the leaked data, which could be embarrassing for Prime Minister Cameron, who has spoken out against tax evasion and tax avoidance.




About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher