A global team of journalists has published an investigation that reveals how a network of associates to Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved around $2 billion through offshore accounts. An unprecedented leak of 11.5 million records shows how Putin?s friends and associates have made millions from their association with the president. ?The documents suggest Putin?s family has benefited from this money?his friends? fortunes appear his to spend,? notes the Guardian.
The revelation comes from 2.6 terabytes of encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells offshore companies, which were leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. ?The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures,? according to the newspaper. The paper shared the data with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which then launched a global reporting effort with 107 media organizations in 78 countries.
The leak reveals offshore holdings from 140 politicians and public officials from around the world, including 12 current and former world leaders. Specifically, the documents show that several public officials in Iceland, including Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, and the Minister of the Interior, Ólöf Nordal, all have ties to anonymous offshore companies.
The documents lay out how the big banks have helped create offshore companies in tax havens. And while there?s nothing illegal per se about offshore business, the documents reveal troubling patterns about the sector. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists explains:
The documents show that banks, law firms and other offshore players have often failed to follow legal requirements that they make sure their clients are not involved in criminal enterprises, tax dodging or political corruption. In some instances, the files show, offshore middlemen have protected themselves and their clients by concealing suspect transactions or manipulating official records.
Mossack Fonseca refused to discuss specific cases but vehemently denied any wrongdoing, insisting it complies with all laws and regulations. ?For 40 years Mossack Fonseca has operated beyond reproach in our home country and in other jurisdictions where we have operations,? the Panama-based law firm said. ?Our firm has never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing.?
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