“Panama Papers” delivers shock felt around the world
The massive leak which detailed a global network of offshore companies which helped the wealthy hide their assets has jaws dropping across the globe. Twitter is already abuzz over the leak. Edward Snowden tweeted out calling this the “biggest leak in the history of data journalism.” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the Kremlin had already received “a series of questions in a rude manner” from an organization that he said was trying to smear Putin.
The leak contained more than 11.5 million records. The data reveal details of secret offshore companies linked to families and associates of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s president Bashar Assad, among others. Also included: Ian Cameron, the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron. The elder Cameron died in 2010. International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which coordinated the reporting said the leak covers a timeframe of the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
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.
World leaders who have embraced anti-corruption platforms feature in the leaked documents. The files reveal offshore companies linked to the family of China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, who has vowed to fight “armies of corruption,” as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has positioned himself as a reformer in a country shaken by corruption scandals. The files also contain new details of offshore dealings by the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leader in the push for tax-haven reform.
The records reveal a pattern of covert maneuvers by banks, companies and people tied to Russian leader Putin. The records show offshore companies linked to this network moving money in transactions as large as $200 million at a time. Putin associates disguised payments, backdated documents and gained hidden influence within the country’s media and automotive industries, the leaked files show.
The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist to the bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer. FIFA’s ethics panel has launched a preliminary investigation into Damiani’s relationship to Figueredo. The world’s best soccer player, Lionel Messi, is also found in the documents. The records show Messi and his father were owners of a Panama company: Mega Star Enterprises Inc. Document leaks uncovered by ICIJ and its media partners have prompted legislation and official investigations in dozens of countries — and fanned fears among offshore customers who worry their secrets will be revealed.