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The Panama Papers – offshore accounts scandal

The Panama Papers
The Panama Papers

What are the Panama Papers?

The so-called Panama Papers are 11 million confidential files obtained by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who shared the information with representative news outlets around the world including the BBC and the Guardian.

The leaked papers show how the rich and powerful around the world have hidden their wealth in secret offshore accounts, some for legitimate reasons but with many others doing so for dubious reasons.

Who is behind the Panama offshore operations?

The leaked files show that the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca has an extensive list of clients including current and previous world leaders. The law firm advices and facilitates schemes for its clients to hide away wealth in so-called offshore accounts, which are secretive and beyond the reach of tax officials

What do we now know from the leaked files?

Clients of Mossack Fonseca were able to launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.

In one case, the law firm offered a wealthy US client fake ownership records to hide money from the authorities, which is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money laundering and tax evasion.

Who were the clients of Mossack Fonseca?

The list is extensive and included the usual suspects: president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad; former dictators Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) and Muammar Gaddafi (Libya); and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The big bad bear who doesn’t care Vladimir Putin of Russia was also implicated, but my guess is that his flunkies at RT News will now go into overdrive to point out how this is another Western conspiracy to smear their dear leader.

What were the surprises in the leaked files?

Some of Mossack Fonseca clients and others implicated in the schemes came as a bit of a shock. UK prime minister David Cameron’s late father was implicated and so was the prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who has now been asked to resign by Icelanders.

Others mentioned are the brother-in-law of China’s President Xi Jinping – so much for his crackdown on corruption in China; Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; Argentina President Mauricio Macri; and three of the four children of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

It is believed that one of schemes was used to lauder proceeds from the notorious 1983 Brink’s-MAT robbery at Heathrow Airport, London.

 

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