#PanamaPapers scandal: Vladimir Putin, Jackie Chan, Lionel Messi and more world leaders, politicians and celebrities

By @chelean on
The website of the Mossack Fonseca law firm is pictured through a large format lens in Bad Honnef, Germany April 4, 2016.
The website of the Mossack Fonseca law firm is pictured through a large format lens in Bad Honnef, Germany April 4, 2016. Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

The Panama Papers scandal has rocked many of the rich and famous and powerful of the world. From Russian President Vladimir Putin to Chinese film superstar Jackie Chan and Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi, the names of those who allegedly used the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca keep on growing.

The massive information leak on offshore tax havens has involved the offshore holdings of 12 former and current world leaders, as well as a host of rich personalities and celebrities. The documents, anonymously sent to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reveal millions of confidential data showing how the elites use tax havens to protect their wealth from taxes or hide them.

All names in allegedly involved in the #PanamaPapers scandal do not automatically mean they have used the offshore company for illegal purposes. There are legitimate uses for offshore accounts, including for international business transactions. However, using offshore accounts is mostly frowned upon because it allows tax avoidance in users’ country of origin. That said, there are also illegal uses of offshore accounts.

According to ICIJ, the documents reveal offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world. There are former and current world leaders involved, including the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine and the king of Saudi Arabia.

Associates of Putin allegedly shuffled as much as US$2 billion (AU$2.6 billion) through banks and shadow companies in secret. The files also reveal offshore companies linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s family, as well as the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, stockbroker Ian Donald Cameron. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who was called a reformer in his country, was also named in the papers.

Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife allegedly secretly owned an offshore firm that held millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during their country’s economic crisis.

Chinese action star Jackie Chan, who has at least six companies managed through Mossack Fonseca, is named in the files, as well as 29 billionaires featured in Forbes Magazine’s 500 richest people list. Soccer player Messi and his father were owners of Mega Star Enterprises Inc., a Panama company that is apparently one of the shell companies he owned.

The Panama Papers exposed the offshore companies controlled by Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and the children of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

Also included in the documents are 33 people and companies that have been blacklisted by the US government over evidence that they had business links to Mexican drug lords, terrorists organisations like Hezbollah, and North Korea and Iran. One of those companies was said to have supplied fuel for the aircraft that the Syrian government used to bomb its citizens.

In Australia, 800 residents have been involved in the scandal, prompting the Australian Tax Office to conduct investigation over the names. Deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston told the ABC that the information they obtained included taxpayers who have been previously investigated by the ATO.


Read: Panama Papers leak: When a remarkable global media operation holds the rich and powerful to account

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