“Panama Papers”: Global tax evasion scandal revealed, executives, athletes and billionaires involved

A massive leak of documents revealed Sunday by more than 100 newspapers across the planet revealed assets of 140 politicians in tax havens, including 12 former or current heads of state and government.

The International Consortium of Invited Journalists (ICIJ) specifies on its website that more than 214,000 offshore entities appear in these documents linked to more than 200 countries and territories around the world.

Among the personalities mentioned in this survey covering 11.5 million documents and which lasted about a year, include a close circle of personalities around Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin’s associates are said to have embezzled more than $ 2 billion with the help of banks and shell companies.

The documents, first obtained by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung before being distributed within the ICIJ consortium, come from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has operated for 40 years without ever having any trouble with the law, according to the BBC. “These revelations show how deeply rooted harmful practices and crime are in offshore locations,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley quoted by the ICIJ. *

Tax havens: the secret accounts of the rich and powerful

Political leaders, prominent celebrities and dozens of billionaires are among the figures mentioned in what appears to be the largest document leak in history. The planetary survey which has been carried out by more than a hundred newspapers and covers a period of some 40 years reveals how some of the most powerful figures in the world have been able to hide their money in tax havens.

Here is the list of the main revelations made on Sunday based on documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, classified by categories of persons concerned:

A) Political leaders

Relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin, aided by banks and other companies, are believed to be involved in embezzling some $ 2 billion using shell companies, thereby gaining influence with the media and the automotive industry. The Kremlin accused the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of launching a false “information campaign” .

– Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife also used an offshore company, Wintris Inc, to hide millions of dollars in investments in the country’s three major banks during the financial crisis. He has denied any wrongdoing but faces a vote of confidence this week.

– Two politicians, who have built their reputations by advocating greater transparency – Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron – have family members linked to offshore companies.
– King Salman of Saudi Arabia, like the children of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also control offshore companies.

– Argentine President Mauricio Macri was a member of the management board of an offshore company registered in the Bahamas, but he “never had a stake in the capital of this company” , his government assured.
– Persons mandated by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have used the services of Mossack Fonseca to set up a company in the British Virgin Islands.

Relatives of these:

The son of Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso and several other sons of African figures appear in the “Panama papers”, documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealing the holdings of personalities in tax havens, Le Monde reported on Monday. Politician and businessman, Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, nicknamed “Kiki the oilman” in Brazzaville, is in particular a member of Oyo, in the north of the country, deputy director general of the Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo, recalls the French daily. His name appears in the files of Mossack Fonseca in the 90s. He asked the firm to create a company domiciled in the British Virgin Islands, Phoenix Best Finance Ltd, according to documents consulted by the daily. The son of the Congolese president, contacted by the newspaper, denied knowing the Panamanian cabinet or the Phoenix company.
The names of the son of Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the UN, of John Kufuor, the ex-Ghanaian president (2011-2009), also appear in the “Panama papers”, according to Le Monde.

Other personalities, such as the Algerian Minister of Industry Abdeslam Bouchouareb, a Rwandan general or the twin sister of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila, are also cited. Mr. Bouchouareb allegedly owned a Panama-based company, Royal Arrival Corp., according to Le Monde. Jaynet Désirée Kabila Kyungu appears as a client of Mossack Fonseca.

B) Business circles

Over 500 banks, subsidiaries and branches have worked with Mossack Fonseca since the 1970s to help their clients run offshore companies. More than 1,100 companies have been set up through UBS and more than 2,300 through HSBC and its subsidiaries.
29 billionaires on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world are mentioned.

C) The World of Organized Crime

The Panamanian law firm has worked with at least 33 individuals and companies that have been blacklisted by the United States due to links to Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations or Rogue states, including North Korea.
– The firm’s clients also include Ponzi scheme officials, tax evaders and an American businessman convicted of traveling to Russia to have sex with underage orphans, who signed papers for offshore companies while in prison.
– The files identify a person who claimed to have organized a campaign of illegal payments to the tune of $ 50,000 intended to pay the Watergate burglars in the United States.

D) The world of sport

A member of the ethics committee of the International Football Federation (Fifa), Juan Pedro Damiani, has had business ties with three men indicted in the corruption scandal affecting the governing body world football: former Fifa vice-president Eugenio Figueredo, as well as Hugo Jinkis and his son, accused of paying bribes for broadcasting rights in Latin America.
– The world’s best football player, Lionel Messi, and his father are accused of owning an offshore company, Mega Star Enterprises, a name which appeared in June 2013 the day after the opening of an investigation by the Spanish authorities.
– Suspended UEFA president Michel Platini, banned for six years from all football activity for having received $ 2 million from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, turned to Mossack Fonseca to run an offshore company created in Panama in 2007.