It was discovered that about 140 politicians from more than 50 countries is connected directly or indirectly with fictitious companies in 21 tax haven – Name of Vladimir Putin is not mentioned in the documents
Originally appeared at Politika, translated by A. Djurich/А. Ђурић exclusively for SouthFront
Frankfurt, Heidelberg – Munich daily newspaper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” yesterday has succeeded to shake the world with the help of numerous media partners by releasing part of the documents revealing that there are hundreds of heads of state, kings, politicians, athletes, officials, business people, celebrities and their relatives and close friends who have, through a Panamanian law firm “Mossacka Fonseka”, founded the companies in so-called tax havens, mostly in order to avoid paying taxes, but also to verify the origin of the money.
Analyzing 11 million documents obtained by the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”, about 400 journalists members of the international research team have identified 140 politicians from more than 50 countries that are linked directly or indirectly with companies in 21 tax havens.
Who is mentioned in the “Panama papers”
Frankfurt, Heidelberg – In addition to Putin, Cameron’s and Poroshenko friends and relatives, discovered documentation of Panamanian law firm discovers that fictitious companies in tax havens are owned by Al Mubarak, son of the deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the current President of the Argentine Mauricio Macri and his predecessor Cristina Kirchner, then Saudi king Salman, the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, relatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the sister of former Spanish king Juan Carlos, officials close to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as relatives of Chinese officials, including the husband of a sister of Chinese President Xi Jinping and daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng. Of all the politicians whose names are detected, the largest internal political scandal has erupted in Iceland, because the local Premier Zigmundur Gunlagson was accused of concealing millions of dollars through secret offshore companies and in that way took part in the collapse of the banking system that destroyed the economy of this country. In fact, the documents revealed that a quarter of the current government has a fictitious company – Prime Minister, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktson and Interior Minister Olof Noral. Besides them, the list is Olof Horal, chairman of the ruling Progressive Party, and some of the richest people of Iceland.
While the British media primarily posted story suspecting that Russian President Vladimir Putin over his close friend secretly controls about two billion euros, “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” published not only the text of Putin’s relationships, but also about the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko , members of the ethics committee of FIFA, football player Lionel Messi, the Saudi king Salman, President of the Argentine Mauricio Macri and Icelandic Prime Minister Zigmunduru Gunlaugsonu and members of his Cabinet. And just when it seemed that all this is just catching on Putin’s financial secrets, to light was washed up financial dirty underwear of British Prime Minister family.
Based on the analysis of documents, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists claims that people close to Putin faked payments, changing dates on documents and secretly gained influence over the Russian media, the automotive industry and gunsmith companies. “The Guardian” and the BBC point out that Putin’s name in the documentation is not mentioned, but they claim that Putin’s associates are involved in the chain of money laundering through offshore arrangements and loans worth two billion dollars, and that this operation was managed by the Bank Rossi, which is under US and EU sanctions because of the Russian annexation of Crimea.
According to “The Guardian”, the documents suggest that Putin’s family had benefited from this money, but it seems that he can spend a fortune of his friends too. In the whole story is particularly prominent a role of steel concert owner Sergei Roldugina, a longtime friend of Putin from St. Petersburg, who allegedly through offshore companies provided the influence on the arms factory and media outlets in Russia. The documentation indicates that Roldugin is owner of companies that have profited from the fraudulent transactions, fraudulent contracts for consulting, non-commercial loans from Russian state-owned banks and the purchase of property paying unrealistically low prices. Beside Roldugin, the documentation discovered doubtful operations of Russian billionaires, brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who are Putin’s friends from childhood. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that these allegations are meant to discredit Putin on the eve of the election.
“The main target of disinformation is our president, particularly in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections and in the long term, presidential elections for two years”, Peskov said at a press conference in Moscow, adding that “putinofobia” abroad has reached such a level that it is virtually a taboo to say something good about Russia. “But it is necessary to say bad things, a lot of bad things, but when there is nothing to say, then they should be invented. To us this is obvious”.
While the Russian media in their reports avoided publication of amounts and through which people money supposedly was taken for Putin’s account, they did not fail to declare that the Radical Party of Ukraine seeks dismissal of the Ukrainian president because it was found that during the conflict with the Ukrainian pro-Russian forces he founded the offshore company.
His financial advisors say that this was done so “Rosen”, a company of which he is owner and which he promised to sell during the presidential election, would become more attractive to potential buyers. However, they avoid to mention that it also means that Poroshenko will save millions of dollars because he will not pay taxes to Ukraine, just at the moment when the Ukrainian government actively opposes offshore companies, which annually in Ukraine manage to avoid paying taxes in the total amount of about 11.6 billion dollars.
In defiance of all this, the Ukrainian State Prosecutor Vladislav Kutsenko yesterday officially announced that the preliminary analysis of this information has not observed that Poroshenko has violated any law.
For now the French President Francois Hollande is first and only world leader who welcomed this “leakage” of information, thanking whistleblowers who forwarded the document about users of tax havens.
“All informations that were discovered will lead to an investigation by the tax authorities and appropriate legal consequences”, said Oland, and similarly reacted the head of British diplomacy, Philip Hammond, who said that it is “always interesting when information like this leak because they are an indicator of how the people who do not work according to the law are becoming vulnerable whet they engage in such activities”.
He also announced that the Prime Minister Cameron in May will organize Summit on Anti-Corruption, and in cooperation with Panama “they make serious progress”. However, at this point, Hammond may not have been aware that the target of the investigation is the family member of his party chief and prime minister. “Panama papers” contain documentation about the late father of Prime Minister David Cameron, Ian Cameron, that is, about his fictional company for which the British media claims that it was used for tax evasion in the UK. “The Guardian” has received confirmation that in thirty-year doing business, company of Ian Cameron did not pay a penny of tax in the UK.
What is “Mossack Fonseka”?
Frankfurt, Heidelberg – “Mossack Fonseka” is the law firm stationed in Panama, which for clients around the world provides the creation and management of offshore companies in tax havens such as Switzerland, Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Belize… The company was founded by Ramon Fonseca and Jurgen Mossack, sons of Germans who on the eve of the Second World War fled from Europe. The company insists that it does not help crimes like money laundering and tax evasion, but it can not be blamed for any failure of intermediaries, including banks, law firms and accountants.
The prime minister’s spokesman declined to comment on whether the family Cameron still has money in a Panamanian offshore funds.
“This is a private matter. We are focused on the work of the government”, she said, refusing to comment on the new findings on the operations of the prime minister’s father. “Most of you know that in 2012 it was written about that, and then we respond to the charges. We have nothing to add”.
There are some good legal reasons for individual people and companies to use company established in Panama or another tax haven for their business, but hundreds of journalists who analyzed the enormous documentation “leaked” from “Mossack Fonseka” do not believe that this is the motivation of many whose names are revealed in this document, called “Panama papers”.
“Owning an offshore company is not illegal. There are a number of companies for which it is logical… but when you look at “Panama papers” you quickly realize that in most cases it comes down to concealing the real owners of companies, said the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”.
According to Georg Mascolo, head of the research team in “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”, and two regional German public broadcasters NDR and VDR, never before existed an glimpse of this magnitude in the operations of these tax havens.
“Not all illegal and illegitimate. But we see that this system of fictitious companies is incredibly well tailored for abuse”, said Mascolo for the first channel of the German public broadcaster ARD.
For now the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” has not revealed whether the documentation has mentioned any famous Germans, but certainly it will happen in next few days, since it published graphics that indicates that in Germany there are 173 companies, 53 clients and 251 shareholder who used the services of “Mossack Fonseka”. According to a spokesman for German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Martin Jaeger, he hopes that the reports based on “leaked” documents will strengthen the fight against tax evasion and money laundering.