Panama Papers Update October 8, 2017

More than eighteen months after the first publication, the effects of the Panama Papers continue to reverberate around the globe. In Argentina, where political partisanship is a blood sport, Mossack Fonseca companies have become electoral fodder.

For years, Argentinian prosecutors and journalists have hunted for ill-gotten gains belonging to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her late husband’s. Initially, some of the fruits of the couple’s corruption were suspected to have flowed through a series of Mossfon Nevada shell companies. You can read more about the remarkable tale of the search for those assets in my forthcoming book the Secrecy World. And today, the former president and her children are currently under indictment over separate corruption charges, which Kirchner claims are politically motivated.

Recently, Laura Alonso, the head of Argentina’s anti-corruption office, said that Fernández de Kirchner also owns more than 60 properties in Miami purchased through “dirty money.” The properties are linked to an aide, Héctor “el Gordo” Muñoz. The Miami Herald located 16 properties, including a CVS drug store in Little Havana, in the Panama Papers connected Muñoz. The paper found no evidence of Kirchner’s direct involvement.

Alsono works for Argentina’s current president Mauricio Macri, an archrival of Kirchner. Macri himself was connected to Mossfon companies. After the revelations came out, a judge investigated allegations the companies were involved in money laundering and exonerated the president.

In Argentina, it’s nigh impossible to separate the allegations flying around from their political context. Last month, Fernández de Kirchner won a Senate seat against a Macri-backed candidate in what many see as a precursor to a battle royale in the 2019 presidential election. Thanks to the Panama Papers and other leak investigations, the offshore holdings of the candidates will surely figure in the campaigns.

Meanwhile in Colombia, a slew of businessmen found in the Mossack Fonseca files were arrested in late September. They are accused of committing fraud and tax evasion, according to Colombia reports. At least fourteen major businesses, including a money-transfer company, are implicated in the investigation. Colombia’s financial crimes prosecutor alleged that Mossack Fonseca Colombia charged a fee between 2.5% and 4% for the value of assets held offshore.

Early Monday, Pakistan’s anti-corruption authorities arrested Muhammad Safdar, the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in connection with corruption cases stemming from the Panama Papers. Sharif, his daughter, son-in-law, and his two sons all face charges over allegations the family held undisclosed assets abroad through secret Mossack Fonseca companies. The charges resulted in Sharif’s removal from office in July.

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