Sunday, May 20, 2018

5 things to know about the Panama Papers


A security guard sits outside the the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama City. Photo / AP

1 The documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca show that Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought an offshore company in 2007, USA Today reports. He didn’t declare it when entering Parliament in 2009. The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money. Gunnlaugsson, who is now facing calls for his resignation, sold his 50 per cent share of the company to his wife for US$1 eight months later, the documents allege. Gunnlaugsson said he has not broken any rules and that his wife didn’t benefit financially from the arrangement. The Guardian published a video on its website showing an interview with Gunnlaugsson. During the interview with Sweden’s SVT television, he 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.
2 The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which first received the data more than a year ago, said it was confident the material was genuine.
The Munich-based daily was offered the data through an encrypted channel by an anonymous source who requested no monetary compensation and asked only for unspecified security measures.
3 Founded by German-born Juergen Mossack, the firm has offices across the globe and is among the world’s biggest creators of shell companies. Mossack Fonseca’s leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism 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
4 The leak involved 11.5 million records. Sueddeutsche Zeitung received about 2.6 terabytes of data – more than would fit on 600 DVDs. The Guardian said 140 offshore firms named in documents are connected to 143 politicians. Twelve national leaders including prime ministers, monarchs and presidents have used tax havens.
5 The Guardian says among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine. The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have hidden wealth offshore.

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