PANAMA EXPOSE !!!! PANAMA LEAK !!!!!! !!!! BIGGEST EVER !!!!!! FROM ICJI


What is Mossack Fonseca?

It is a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for a yearly fee. Other services include wealth management.

Where is it based?

The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

How big is it?

Mossack Fonseca is the world’s fourth biggest provider of offshore services. It has acted for more than 300,000 companies. There is a strong UK connection. More than half of the companies are registered in British-administered tax havens, as well as in the UK itself.

How much data has been leaked?

A lot. The leak is one of the biggest ever – larger than the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010, and the secret intelligence documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden in 2013.

There are 11.5m documents and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database.

Are all people who use offshore structures crooks?

No. Using offshore structures is entirely legal. There are many legitimate reasons for doing so. Business people in countries such as Russia and Ukraine typically put their assets offshore to defend them from “raids” by criminals, and to get around hard currency restrictions. Others use offshore for reasons of inheritance and estate planning.

Are some people who use offshore structures crooks?

Yes. In a speech last year in Singapore, David Cameron said “the corrupt, criminals and money launderers” take advantage of anonymous company structures. The government is trying to do something about this. It wants to set up a central register that will reveal the beneficial owners of offshore companies. From June, UK companies will have to reveal their “significant” owners for the first time.

What does Mossack Fonseca say about the leak?

The firm won’t discuss specific cases of alleged wrongdoing, citing client confidentiality. But it robustly defends its conduct. Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due diligence on all its clients. It says it regrets any misuse of its services and tries actively to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be blamed for failings by intermediaries, who include banks, law firms and accountants.

 

A cache of documents has exposed the secret offshore dealings of aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, world leaders and celebrities, including Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

An international coalition of media outlets on Sunday published what it said was an extensive investigation into offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous, based on a vast trove of documents provided by an anonymous source.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, said the cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars.

A cache of documents has exposed the secret offshore dealings of aides to Russian president Vladimir Putin, world leaders and celebrities including Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. An investigation into the documents by more than 100 media groups, described as one of the largest such probes in history, revealed the hidden offshore dealings in the assets of around 140 political figures, including 12 current or former heads of states.

‘No monetary compensation’

A Munich-based daily, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, was offered the data through an encrypted channel by an anonymous source who requested no monetary compensation and asked only for unspecified security measures, said Bastian Obermayer, a reporter for the paper.

The data concerned internal documents from a Panama—based law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Founded by German—born Juergen Mossack, the firm has offices across the globe and is among the world’s biggest creators of shell companies, the newspaper said.

Ramon Fonseca, a co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, said the firm had no control of how its clients might use offshore vehicles created for them.

“We are not responsible for the actions of a corporation that we set up,” he told Panama’s Channel 2.

Panamanian govt offers to ‘vigorously’ cooperate

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela issued a statement saying his government would cooperate “vigorously” with any judicial investigation arising from the leak of the law firm’s documents. He said that the revelations shouldn’t detract from his government’s “zero tolerance” for any illicit activities in Panama’s finance industry.

ICIJ said the law firm’s leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. It said it would release the full list of companies and people linked to them early next month.

Obermayer said that over the course of several months Sueddeutsche Zeitung received about 2.6 terabytes of data more than would fit on 600 DVDs. The newspaper said the amount of data it obtained is several times larger than a previous cache of offshore data published by WikiLeaks in 2013 that exposed the financial dealings of prominent individuals.

“To our knowledge this is the biggest leak that journalists have ever worked on,” Obermayer said.

The newspaper and its partners verified the authenticity of the data by comparing it to public registers, witness testimony and court rulings, he told the AP. A previous cache of Mossack Fonseca documents obtained by German authorities was also used to verify the new material, Obermayer added.

Among the countries with past or present political figures named in the reports are Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina.

Putin in the list

The Guardian newspaper, which took part in the investigation, published a video on its website late Sunday showing an interview with Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. During the interview with Sweden’s SVT television, the Prime Minister is asked about a company called Wintris. He responds by insisting that its affairs are above board and calling the question “completely inappropriate,” before breaking off the interview.

In Russia, the Kremlin last week said it was anticipating what it called an upcoming “information attack.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the Kremlin had received “a series of questions in a rude manner” from an organisation that he said was trying to smear Putin.

“Journalists and members of other organizations have been actively trying to discredit Putin and this country’s leadership,” Peskov said.

The office of Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, confirmed on Sunday that the business group owned by his family set up Fleg Trading Ltd., an offshore company based in the Bahamas. But it said Macri himself had no shares in Fleg and never received income from it.

Macri’s office commented after La Nacion, an Argentine national newspaper, reported that he and his family had links to Fleg.

The ICIJ said the documents included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records detailing how powerful figures used banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets. The data spanned a time frame of nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015, it said.

“It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues,” the ICIJ said.

Global banks hand-in-hand with Mossack Fonseca

According to the media group’s website, global banks including HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and others have worked with Mossack Fonseca to create offshore accounts.

“The allegations are historical, in some cases dating back 20 years, predating our significant, well-publicised reforms implemented over the last few years,” HSBC spokesman Rob Sherman said in an emailed response to an AP request for comment.

“We work closely with the authorities to fight financial crime and implement sanctions,” he said.

UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Australian Taxation Office identified individuals in data published as part of an investigation into the offshore financial dealings of the world’s wealthy elite

SYDNEY: More than 800 wealthy Australians are under investigation by the Australian Taxation Office for possible tax evasion linked to their alleged dealings with a Panamanian law firm.

The agency said on Monday that it had identified the individuals in data published by an international coalition of media outlets as part of an investigation into the offshore financial dealings of the world’s wealthy elite. The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said the cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, celebrities and others.

The tax office’s deputy commissioner, Michael Cranston, said the agency was working with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission and the nation’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, to cross-check data from the documents.

Often, companies or individuals use shell companies to disguise ownership or other information about the funds involved.

An investigation published by an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets, based on 11.5 million records of offshore holdings, details how politicians, celebrities and other famous people use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, said a cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars.

A cache of documents has exposed the secret offshore dealings of aides to Russian president Vladimir Putin, world leaders and celebrities including Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. An investigation into the documents by more than 100 media groups, described as one of the largest such probes in history, revealed the hidden offshore dealings in the assets of around 140 political figures, including 12 current or former heads of states.

The ICIJ has said an anonymous source provided the internal documents from a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s biggest creators of shell companies.

However, Ramon Fonseca, a co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, said the documents were obtained illegally by hacking but confirmed that many of them were real. He denied his firm has engaged in any wrongdoing.

Here is a look at offshore accounts and how they are used:

What are offshore accounts?

Offshore bank accounts and other financial dealings in another country can be used to evade regulatory oversight or tax obligations. Often, companies or individuals use shell companies, initially incorporated without significant assets or operations, to disguise ownership or other information about the funds involved.

Where are the most offshore accounts?

Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are among more than a dozen small, low-tax locations that specialise in handling business services and investments of non-resident companies.

What are the legitimate uses of offshore accounts?

Companies or trusts can be set up in offshore locations for legitimate uses such as business finance, mergers and acquisitions and estate or tax planning, according to the global money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force.

The illicit uses of such accounts

Shell companies and other entities can be misused by terrorists and others involved in international and financial crimes to conceal sources of funds and ownership. The ICIJ says the files from Mossack Fonseca include information on 214,488 offshore entities linked to 14,153 clients in 200 countries and territories.

Crack down on financial havens

The Financial Action Task Force and other regulatory agencies publish assessments identifying weaknesses in enforcement of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing efforts of specific countries and territories. Financial and legal professionals get training on how to spot potential violations, since in some cases lawyers and bankers are unaware they are handling illicit transactions. The EU has stepped up efforts to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

Past scandals over offshore accounts

Banking secrecy laws tend to obscure offshore financial dealings. But the disclosure of other leaked documents by the ICIJ and other organisations in late 2014 drew attention to sweet tax deals offered by the tiny European country of Luxembourg to multinational companies and ultra-wealthy individuals. In the 1980s, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, an international bank founded by a Pakistani financier, was found to have been involved in wide-scale money laundering and other illegal financial dealings.

 

 

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