Monday, April 4, 2016

What Are the Panama Papers? - The Atlantic

What Are the Panama Papers? - The Atlantic: "Some of the products of that research were published Sunday. The BBC reported the leak reveals information about 72 current or former heads of state, including Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, and Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi. It reported Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stored millions of dollars of investments in Iceland’s major banks in an offshore company. The Guardian reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s associates secretly moved as much as $2 billion through offshore accounts. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Juan Pedro Damiani, the Uruguayan lawyer who is president of the country’s most popular soccer team and a FIFA ethics expert, managed companies through which FIFA members may have received bribes.

 Owning an anonymous shell company is not illegal. It’s also pretty easy to set one up, as Fusion’s Natasha Del Toro showed Sunday, when she reported she had opened one in Delaware, a state known for its corporate-friendly privacy laws, for an anonymous owner—her cat. Shell companies allow their owners to hold assets that are subject to minimal governmental oversight. Some are used to dodge taxes—especially in tax havens, the name given to countries that offer foreign businesses little or no tax liability—and other criminal activity.

 The reports published Sunday only scratch the surface of the leaked material, which eclipses in size the WikiLeaks dump of American diplomatic cables in 2010 and Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013. An untold number of stories emerged from those leaks and continue to pour out today. The first reports from the Panama Papers mark the beginning of a steady drip of potentially incriminating information."

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