LONDON — A massive leak of data from a corporation that specialized in offshore tax havens is revealing the questionable financial choices of many government leaders and the world’s wealthiest people.
While the mainstream media has largely focused on people with ties to Vladimir Putin who made use of shell corporations, the Panama Papers leak directly implicates 12 current or former world leades, and the relatives of many others, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Ian Cameron, the father of David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister.
Over a year ago, an anonymous source leaked over 2.6 terabytes of data from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm, to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. This week, the paper, in partnership with dozens of outlets working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, began revealing the contents of the leak, triggering immediate political scandals from Russia to Iceland.
So far, few details of U.S. involvement have been released. Stefan Plöchinger, Süddeutsche Zeitung’s editor, promised on Twitter that more was coming soon:
@Doener Einfach mal abwarten, was noch kommt…
— Stefan Plöchinger (@ploechinger) April 3, 2016
— Mohamed Hemish (@MohamedHemish) April 4, 2016
But many close friends of the White House are already tied to the growing scandal. While the use of offshore tax havens isn’t necessarily illegal, the leaks are bringing unwanted attention to the finances of some of the world’s most powerful people.
“Though he is not named in the reports himself, the British Prime Minister is linked to the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ by his late father Ian Cameron, who died in 2010,” reported The Independent on Monday.
The Prime Minister’s father, the paper reported, “used Mossack Fonseca’s services to shield his investment fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc.”
Cameron’s spokesman refused to comment on the papers, telling The Independent, “That is a private matter, I am focused on what the Government is doing.”
Three other members of Cameron’s Conservative Party, including major donor and former MP Lord Aschroft, were also named in the leaks.
Among world leaders directly named in the Papers are U.S. allies like King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Khalifa bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates, and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.
According to a report by teleSUR English, the leaks show King Salman:
“had ‘an unspecific role’ in Verse Development Corporation, incorporated in 1999, and Inrow Corporation, incorporated in 2002 both set up in the British Virgin Islands.
In 2009, those two companies took at least two mortgages worth more than US$34 million and the money was used for purchasing luxury homes in central London in connection to the King and his family.”
Sheikh Khalifa, meanwhile, “used the services of Mossack Fonseca to establish at least 30 companies in the British Virgin Islands that owned and operated US$1.7 billion worth of commercial and residential assets for the Sheikh in high-end neighborhoods in the United Kingdom.”
The Panama Papers also revealed that Poroshenko, a billionaire business owner who came to power after a U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, used Mossack Fonseca’s services during the height of that conflict to hide earnings from Roshen, the country’s largest confectionary, which he owns.
Reuters reported Monday that some Ukrainian MPs are already demanding an investigation into Poroshenko’s affairs:
“‘It is the height of cynicism to open offshore companies at a time when hundreds of our soldiers are dying,’ leader of the populist Radical Party, Oleh Lyashko, said on Facebook, adding any investigation could lead to Poroshenko’s impeachment.”
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