The Panama Papers, a series of documents showing how some of the world’s richest people used other countries to hide their assets and avoid higher taxes, has been leaked. The large-scale investigation has many moving parts, and several people have been implicated in tax haven schemes over the past 40 years.
The data leak revealed the offshore accounts of some of the world’s richest people, including 12 current or former world leaders, FIFA, and other notable names. Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca was the source of the leak, which went public on Sunday with the collaborative effort of German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.,
Over 11 million files were leaked by an anonymous source by the German outlet, and alleges bribery, corruption, money laundering and other high financial crimes. The biggest names on the list were Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davîo Gunnlaugsson. Gunnlaugsson, who used an offshore account in his wife’s name to improperly hide assets, is being asked to resign.
Other names listed included family members of British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chinese Premier Li Peng, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. While there were no names of individuals from the United States within the Panama Papers, it has been reported that might change in the coming days and weeks.
The use of offshore accounts isn’t illegal and is actually a favored practice by the rich to protect assets. However, using tax havens is also prominent in the criminal underworld as well. A global criminal investigation is underway.
Mossack Fonseca has issued a statement denying any criminal activity, and a top official from the firm spoke with CNN saying that much of what was leaked is incorrect information.
To view the Panama Papers in full, follow this link.
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