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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.

Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

panama papers leak
By The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.

In this story

  • Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world
  • Current and former world leaders in the data include prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia
  • More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories
  • Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havensA massive leak of documents exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and reveals how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies.The leak also provides details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.The cache of 11.5 million records shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.

    These are among the findings of a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations.

    The files expose offshore companies controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan.

    They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

    One of those companies supplied fuel for the aircraft that the Syrian government used to bomb and kill thousands of its own citizens, U.S. authorities have charged.

    “These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world,” said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of “The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens.” Zucman, who was briefed on the media partners’ investigation, said the release of the leaked documents should prompt governments to seek “concrete sanctions” against jurisdictions and institutions that peddle offshore secrecy.

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