Tax Haven Not So Heavenly Anymore
A company located in tax haven country Panama, Mossack Fonseca, has been hacked revealing numerous documents which implicate wealthy and affluent people and their offshore account activities. The leak is being called the Panama Papers saga and it implicates the rich and powerful and it is revealed that 12 current and former heads of state are involved in offshore accounts.
The source of the leak is unknown but it is believed he or she began supplying the documents in question for the Panama Paper saga – dated from the 1970s to 2016- to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) a year ago. SZ then assembled a group of media organizations, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Guardian, the BBC and Le Monde, to analyze the data, before simultaneously releasing their findings. The leak is the biggest, eclipsing the Snowden stolen data from NSA and also much more than WikiLeaks. A reported 11.5 million documents and 2.6 terabytes of data were taken from the internal servers of Mossack Fonseca.
Many influential people are being linked to the offshore accounts that are seen in the leaks. The Prime Minister of Iceland secretly owned the debt of failed Icelandic banks while he was involved in political negotiations over their fate.
The family of Pakistan’s prime minister owns millions of dollars’ worth of real estate via offshore accounts.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to sell his Ukrainian business interests during his campaign but appears instead to have transferred them to an offshore company he controls.
Other notable people indicated on the list include relatives and close associates of the Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Syria’s Bashar Al Sadd and even UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
A Thorough Affair
The leak is being said to be the same with that of WikiLeaks though this one is surely on a higher level than that. The trove of data that is implicated in this case and the number of people involved shows the effort that went into finding the exact details for this case.
The Iceland Prime Minister reportedly stormed out of an interview when he was presented with the Panama Papers matter. However, he later apologized for his behavior, amidst constant pressure for him to resign due to the offshore accounts saga.
Although Mossack Fonseca refutes any claims they did anything illegal, one issue of how they were attempting to help one wealthy American named Marianna Olszewski comes to the forefront. In an email exchange, the company proposes fake ownership records to Olszewski in order to hide money from the authorities. The email is dated for January 2009 and Ms Olszewski does not reply to the suggestion. When called for comment she did not reply.
In a statement, Mossack Fonseca said:
“Your allegations that we provide structures supposedly designed to hide the identity of the real owners, are completely unsupported and false. We do not provide beneficiary services to deceive banks. It is difficult, not to say impossible, not to provide banks with the identity of final beneficiaries and the origin of funds.”
French President, Francois Hollande applauded the good revelations and was happy that this would increase tax revenue from those who attempted to commit fraud.