Panama Papers offshore document leak: twelve heads of state and 732 Belgians exposed
Monday, 04 April 2016
Beneficiaries concealed behind more than 214,000 offshore companies located in 21 tax havens were uncovered on Sunday evening by several Belgian media sources, working in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICI). Twelve heads of state may be in difficulty, as well as 732 Belgians.
The information emanates from an enormous leak of financial documents which is 1,500 times greater than the WikiLeaks scandal in 2010. So says Le Soir.
The revelations possibly affect Iceland’s Prime Minister, who, during the financial crisis, concealed the fact that he had, through the medium of an offshore company, acquired bank bonds issued by the three large banks which brought Iceland down in 2008. The reputation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been tarnished by the affair, along with the footballer Lionel Messi.
Also heavily criticised in the scandal are the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, the President of Ukraine Petro Porochenko, the former Prime Minister of Iraq Ayad Allawi or indeed possibly his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Lazarenko. The list goes on.
In Belgium, 732 Belgians and numerous foreigners living in the country are seeing their legal arrangements laid bare. “This includes the filthy rich, artists, the nobility and inherited money, doctors and pharmacists, accountants and tax experts, the kings of the textile industry, academics and several media figures. In addition there are also diamond merchants, captains of industry and several well known habitual criminals,” states Le Soir.
They are mainly grouped together in the Brussels region, Antwerp, Flemish Brabant and then, below these locations come West Flanders, Walloon Brabant, East Flanders and Hainaut. There are cases in every province and of offshore company shareholders within no less than 207 of the 589 districts of the country, Le Soir goes on to say, whilst anticipating further revelations from Monday onwards.
At the centre of this spider’s web is a firm of Panama lawyers, Mossack Fonseca. It has possibly created offshore arrangements for the benefit of its clients since the 1970s.