A massive leak of documents exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and reveals how among others associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2-billion through banks and shadow companies.
The documents‚ held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca‚ were passed to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung‚ which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists who shared them with 107 media organisations in 78 countries. The consortium and media organisations have been analysing the documents for more than a year.
President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma is named in the leak as being authorised to represent Caprikat Limited‚ one of two offshore companies that controversially acquired oil fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Zuma did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the consortium’s journalists while a spokesman for Fleurette‚ the owner of the two companies‚ said “the DRC benefits hugely” from “investment and long-term commitment” and noted “extensive benefits to local communities”.
According to the consortium‚ the leak provides details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials around the world and shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians‚ fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires‚ celebrities and sports stars‚ including Lionel Messi.
According to The Guardian‚ a network of secret offshore deals and vast loans worth $2bn has laid a trail to Putin.
Though the Russian president’s name does not appear in any of the records‚ the data reveals a pattern – his friends have earned millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage.
A Kremlin spokesman did not answer questions from the consortium‚ but instead went public on March 28 with charges that ICIJ and its media partners were preparing a misleading “information attack” on Putin and people close to him.
In total 11-million documents were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies‚ Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
According to the BBC’s analysis‚ the documents show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money‚ dodge sanctions and evade tax.
The company‚ in responses to several media organisations‚ says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing.
Mossack Fonseca says it has always complied with international protocols to ensure the companies they incorporate are not used for tax evasion‚ money-laundering‚ terrorist finance or other illicit purposes.
The company says it conducts thorough due diligence and regrets any misuse of its services.
The data also contains secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak‚ Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists analysis of the files expose offshore companies controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan‚ the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan.
They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the US 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.