Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, leaked over 11 million documents that contain information that some 214,000 companies, 143 politicians (12 of which are national leaders) and their families and close associates have been using offshore tax havens. The information covers a period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
Using complex shell company structures and trust accounts, Mossack Fonseca services allowed its clients to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy. Mossack Fonseca’s success relies on a global network of accountants and prestigious banks that hire the law firm to manage the finances of their wealthy clients. Banks are the big drivers behind the creation of hard-to-trace companies in tax havens.Much of the firm’s work is perfectly legal and benign. But the leak takes us inside its inner workings, providing rare insight into an operation which offers shady operators plenty of room to maneuver.
List of Accused
- Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad
- Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
- Egypt’s Former President Honsi Mubarak,
- presidents Mauricio Macri of Argentina
- Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of United Arab Emirates
- Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine
- King Salman of Saudi Arabia
Several high profile individuals connected with the world governing body of association football, FIFA, include Argentine player Lionel Messi, as well as the former President of UEFA Michel Plaini, and the Secretary General of FIFA Jerome Valcke.
Vladimir Putin and his $2 billion
According to The Guardian, the name of Vladimir Putin”does not appear in any of the records”, but it published a lengthy report about three of his friends on the list, claiming that business success of his friends “could not have been secured without his patronage.”
The files also reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Money has been channeled through offshore companies, two of which were officially owned by one of the Russian president’s closest friends. Concert cellist Sergei Roldugin has known Vladimir Putin since they were teenagers and is godfather to the president’s daughter Maria.
Icelandic Prime Minister
Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson had an undeclared interest in his country’s failed banks. However, he has tried to hide his ties with the bank by not declaring an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. David even sold half of his stake in Wintris to his wife for $1, eight months from entering office. The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mr Gunnlaugsson’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, in 2015.
Americans Left Off The List
A couple questions arise due to these leaks, did someone inside the firm release the papers without the firm’s knowledge As Ed Snowden has tweet states? Or did the firm release the papers, and what was their motivation? Also, why do the papers mainly accuse Russia and her allies? Only the Icelandic Prime Minister’s name is the only one that doesn’t fit. Maybe the bankers are looking for revenge after Iceland jailed bankers after the recession. Who knows?