Δευτέρα, 11 Απριλίου 2016

Panama Papers read like Who's Who of world power

(Photo: None, AP, AFP/Getty Images, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY)
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Panama Papers read like Who's Who of world power

The exhaustive list of foreign leaders and famous people exposed in a massive leak of confidential documents held by a Panamanian law firm illuminates a sprawling network of offshore investment accounts often used to make secretive investments and pad luxury lifestyles.
Expensive yachts, luxury homes in London, ownership of a candy company, investments in construction companies are just a sampling of the benefits reaped from these complex financial dealings, many of which may be entirely legal. They reveal the inner workings of the financial lives of those with wealth and power across the globe.
The swath of 11.5 million records — already known as the Panama Papers — made its way into the hands of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, part of the Center for Public Integrity.
Together, the news organizations coordinated a massive onslaught of investigative reports on the revelations found in the documents.
The list of people tied to offshore activities includes about 140 politicians from more than 50 countries, including 12 current or former heads of state, with links to Panama law firm Mossack Fonesca.
“We have not once in nearly 40 years of operation been charged with criminal wrongdoing," the law firm's spokesman, Carlos Sousa, told McClatchy DC. "We’re proud of the work we do, notwithstanding recent and willful attempts by some to mischaracterize it.”
Mossack Fonseca director Ramon Fonseca told Reuters that his firm was the victim of targeted hacking that exposed the documents. He said the "vast majority" of the offshore companies set up by his firm were for "legitimate purposes."
Though experts suspect the network of offshore accounts and complex investment vehicles may have been used for money laundering, sanctions evasion or tax avoidance in some cases, specific legal implications were not immediately clear.
In a statement issued Monday, the U.S. Justice Department said it was reviewing the reports. While federal officials said they coudn't comment on the specifics of the leaked documents, they said the Justice Department "takes very seriously all credible allegations of high level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the U.S. financial system.”
Here is a developing list of famous figures who are either cited or who have associates cited in the ICIJ reports and other stories reported by the network of journalists involved in the project:
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN
Though his name does not appear on any of the records, Putin's associates are cited frequently as having profited from or participating in a sprawling network of secretive financial dealings.
Among them, according to ICIJ, was world-class cellist Sergei Roldugin, a friend of Putin's, who was reportedly listed as owner of offshore companies that received tens of millions of dollars in shadowy payments and secured control over a substantial part of Russia's TV advertising business. ICIJ said "the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists — and perhaps for Putin himself."
Other Putin associates cited included childhood friends and billionaire brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who collectively owned at least seven British Virgin Islands companies that invested in a pipeline construction company and acquired machinery to build a villa in Tuscany, Italy, for Arkady's son, Igor, as well as other activities.
SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD
His two cousins, Rami and Hafez Makhlouf, who have been the target of international sanctions and are suspected of controlling key gateways to Syria's oil and telecom business, held numerous offshore accounts through which they filtered investments such as telecommunications assets.
CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING
Deng Jiagui, the brother-in-law of China's current leader, became sole owner of British Virgin Islands companies called Best Effect Enterprises Ltd. and Wealth Ming International Limited in September 2009, according to ICIJ. Though ICIJ says it's unclear what those companies were used for, Deng took possession of the companies while Xi was a member of the nine-person Politburo Standing Committee that rules China. Deng and his wife held hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, according to a 2012 Bloomberg report.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO
While Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine in August 2014, he is accused of  having become the sole owner of a British Virgin Islands firm called Prime Asset Partners Limited, set up through Mossack Fonseca as a holding company with assets that include a European candy factory. Before taking office in 2014, Poroshenko's assets included auto plants, a TV channel, a chocolate business and a shipyard.
SAUDI KING SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL SAUD
He held what ICIJ described as an "unspecific role" in a Luxembourg company called Safason Corporation SPF S.A. that owned British Virgin Islands companies that took out $34 million in mortgages for luxury homes in London. He also was the primary user of a yacht named Erga that was held by a British Virgin Islands company.
ARGENTINE PRESIDENT MAURICIO MACRI
While mayor of Buenos Aires, Macri did not disclose his position as a director of Fleg Trading Ltd., which was incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998, according to ICIJ.
FORMER GEORGIA PRIME MINISTER BIDZINA IVANISHVILI
He owned a British Virgin Islands-based trust called Lynden Management Ltd. that was established by Credit Suisse and came under scrutiny for the murky source of its funds, according to ICIJ.
ICELAND PRIME MINISTER SIGMUNDUR DAVÍÓ GUNNLAUGHSSON
The former journalist and radio host and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, held nearly $4 million in bonds in three Icelandic banks through Wintris Inc., a British Virgin Islands shell company, according to ICIJ. He failed to disclose his 50% stake in Wintris when he took office in 2009 and is said to have sold his share in the company to his wife for a $1 at the end of 2009, according to the report.
FORMER IRAQI INTERIM PRIME MINISTER AYAD ALLAWI
He controlled a Panama-registered company called I.M.F. Holdings and a British Virgin Islands company called Moonlight Estates Limited that each controlled real estate in England, according to ICIJ.
FORMER JORDANIAN PRIME MINISTER ALI ABU AL-RAGHEB
He was a director of multiple British Virgin Islands investment companies, held three companies in Seychelles and had family members serving as board directors of several British Virgin Island entities, according to ICIJ.
FORMER QATARI PRIME MINISTER HAMAD BIN JASSIM BIN JABER AL THANI
He held several investment companies based in Panama, including two he co-owned with then-Qatar Emir Hamad bin Khalifa, and previously held several companies in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands, including one through which he managed a $300 million yacht named Al Mirqab.
UNITED KINGDOM PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
Cameron's late father, Ian Cameron, avoided British taxes for 30 years on his investment fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc., according to the U.K. Guardian, part of the network of organizations that reported on the Panama Papers. Ian Cameron's fund employed as many as 50 Caribbean experts annually to sort through red tape for Blairmore, which was based in the Bahamas but incorporated in Panama, the U.K.Guardian reported.
There was no particular allegation of wrongdoing against Blairmore, and David Cameron's office said the prime minister has fought tax-avoidance schemes as a public policy.
SOCCER PLAYER LIONEL MESSI
The world-famous athlete and his father, Jorge Horacio, held an offshore company called Mega Star Enterprises that Mossack Fonseca registered in 2012, according to the U.K. Guardian.
Though offshore accounts are not illegal, the Guardian noted, Messi and his father have been accused by Spanish authorities of tax evasion for alleged involvement in shell companies based in Uruguay and Belize. They have denied those accusations, according to the Guardian. Messi, a native of Argentina, plays on Barcelona's soccer team.
CHINESE "POWER QUEEN" LI XIAOLIN  
Li Xiaolin, a daughter of Li Peng, the former Chinese premier, has served as vice president of the state-run China Power Investment Corporation, ICIJ reported. She has been called China’s “Power Queen,” according to the journalism group. ICIJ reported in 2014 that she was the director of two British Virgin Islands companies registered in 2005. She and her husband Liu Zhiyuan were the beneficial owners of “Fondation Silo,” a Lichtenstein foundation that was the sole shareholder of “Cofic Investments Ltd.,” a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands when her father Li Peng was prime minister, ICIJ reported.
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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/04/panama-papers-list/82607516/

ALAA MUBAREK, SON OF HOSNI MUBARAK
A wealthy Egyptian businessman and the eldest son of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Alaa Mubarak owned the British Virgin Islands firm Pan World Investments Inc. In 2011, the year in which his father resigned the Egyptian presidency and was arrested along with Alaa and another son, BVI authorities told Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World's assets, an order prompted by a European Union law. In 2013, Mossack Fonseca was fined $37,500 for failing to properly check into Alaa Mubarak, "a high risk customer," ICIJ reported.
RAMI AND HAFEZ MAKHLOUF, COUSINS OF SYRIA'S ASSAD
For years, foreign companies seeking to do business in Syria had to be cleared by Rami, who controlled key economic sectors such as oil and telecommunications,Fusion reported. In 1998 Rami Makhlouf used Polter Investments Inc. to invest in Syrian telecommunications with Jordanian investors. In 2002, Makhlouf co-founded Syriatel, a Syrian mobile telecom company. He held 10% of shares personally and another 63% through his British Virgin Island company Drex Technologies S.A. The same year, Makhlouf's co-investors in Syriatel sued him in Vienna where his Drex Technologies bank account held $2.6 million, ICIJ reported.
PILAR DE BORBON, SISTER OF SPAIN'S JUAN CARLOS I
A former competitive rider of horses trained for fox hunts, she also has managed her family’s business investments and raised money for Nuevo Futuro, a charity for homeless children. In 1974, she became president and director of the Panama-registered company Delantera Financiera SA. Mossack Fonseca files revealed that on the same date her husband, Luis Gómez-Acebo, also assumed the role of secretary-treasurer and director of the company. The firm originally had been registered in Panama in May 1969. As of March 1993, neither of them appeared, nor did they ever again, as directors, ICIJ reported.
Contributing: Greg Toppo, USA TODAY; Follow Nathan Bomey on Twitter 
https://panamapapers.icij.org/
https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-panama-papers-global-overview.html
http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/articles/56febff0a1bb8d3c3495adf4/
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/04/panama-papers-list/82607516/
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/06/panama-papers-all-revelations-so-far-data-leak
http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers