Businessmen, politicians and celebrities were found in the 11.5 million leaked documents that go into detail on how they managed to hide their wealth, while the press reports have triggered worldwide reactions.
Internationally, several media outlets have created a coalition with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and have developed several reports that rely on documents that were leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, who was among the top companies worldwide that specialize in offshore transactions.
Let’s take a look at the reactions that occurred following the publication of the reports:
In Argentina, the president’s office confirmed what the newspaper La Nacion writes in the report: that a business group owned by the President’s family has set up a company in the Bahamas. However, Macri has no share in the company and never received any income from it.
In Australia, more than 800 wealthy people were investigated by a tax agency due to possible tax evasions that are directly related to business done with Mossack Fonseca. However, the Australian Tax Office said it found links where more than 120 people had received offshore services from a company in Hong Kong, whose name remains unknown.
In China, according to the reports, the law firm from Panama has created offshore companies for relatives of at least 8 members who are or were part of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, the most inner, inner circle of power in China. Among those mentioned is also the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping. But China’s foreign Ministry said that the reports are not based on anything. Therefore, state media totally ignores what is happening with these documents worldwide and searches to find any websites or information on social networks that contain the words “Panama documents” is strictly blocked.
In the Czech Republic, the documents show that 283 citizens have associations with offshore companies. If we were to make a top 3 most preferred offshore havens for Czech citizens, they would be as follows: the Seychelles, then the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas and others. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said that the police will analyze all the data.
In France, a French prosecutor has already begun to investigate possible cases of money laundering after the documents were made public. The far-right National Front said that it is suing any media for defamation if in what the reports suggest, they or their leader Marine Le Pen, who intends to run for president in 2017, would be somehow involved in the Panama Papers scandal.
In Iceland, the changes have already started to appear by the fact that Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson decided to step down from office after protests and reports suggested he and his wife have a company in the British Virgin Islands, thus creating a conflict of interest.
In Italy, L’Espresso said that about 1,000 Italian customers emerged from the investigations, including Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the head of Rome’s 2024 Olympics bid and the chairman of carrier Alitalia. Montezemolo was directly linked as the head of a Panama-based company named Lenville and when asked of his involvement, he declined to comment.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key has vehemently rejected the label that was put on his country as one of the 21 tax Heavens that Mossack Fonseca used. He said “New Zealand has full disclosure of information.”
In Norway, the DNB Bank chose to come forward and to recognize the mistakes it made and that it has helped 40 clients to open offshore companies through Mossack Fonseca. Subsequently the bank said “that if it was legal to set up this type of companies, that doesn’t mean that it was correct for us to do it for these customers.”
In Russia, more than 100 media companies have published documents which showed that Vladimir Putin’s friends were involved in an offshore scheme. The president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that there is no reason why the president should be involved, adding that this campaign simply wants to influence Russian politics.
In Spain, investigations have started regarding allegations of tax irregularities involving Lionel Messi and director Pedro Almodóvar. The football player’s family denied that he had done something wrong and threatened to sue any media company that publishes information that could tie the Argentinian player to the accounts in Panama. Also, Almodovar’s brother said that the company was dissolved several years after it was opened, some time in the 90’.
In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko denied having avoided paying taxes by creating an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, exempting him from paying millions of dollars to his country. He insisted that he did nothing wrong. Some of his opponents have already begun to ask for his removal from office.
In the United States, the Justice Department is closely analyzing the documents that came from Mossack Fonseca to find evidence of possible criminal activity that could be related to the US or its financial system. Yet nobody knows exactly how many Americans are named in the documents but the total number would be much smaller than the one in Europe.