It all started when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a report disclosing confidential documents of a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which sets up shell companies in offshore for world’s riches to hide their wealth for tax evasion.
After an anonymous insider leaked 2.6 terabytes of confidential data of the firm to a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung a year ago, hundreds of journalists from dozens of news organizations in more than 80 countries teamed up to investigate how the world’s rich move their money around and hide their wealth.
The leaked files are called the “Panama Papers”. The first round of stories published this week has tracked down politicians, world leaders and public figures around the world. Here are the most prominent personalities who have been implicated in the Panama Papers Leak.
1. Russian President Vladimir Putin
Putin’s name reportedly does not appear in the leak but there’s name of his closest friends, Sergei Roldugin, who has somehow collected $100 million through three offshore companies that list him as owner. The leaked files suggest that Roldugin is not keeping this wealth for himself, but is channeling the money to Putin’s inner circle. The Guardian reports that Putin is at the center of a network of $2 billion in offshore deals and loans, with Putin’s friends and associates, including Roldugin, earning millions from deals that seemingly could not have been secured without his patronage.
The transactions, the Guardian reports, “include apparently fake share deals, with shares ‘traded’ retrospectively; multimillion-dollar charges for vague ‘consultancy’ services; and repeated payments of large sums in ‘compensation’ for allegedly canceled share deals.”
Roldugin declined to comment about the transactions when approached by an investigative journalist after a concert in Moscow in March, saying he was “afraid to be interviewed,” and adding: “Where’s the money from? Whose [money is it]? I know all that. These are delicate matters.”
Russian government officials criticized the Panama Papers reports as being part of an anti-Russia conspiracy. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reports “lack details” and are “based on arguments and speculations.”