Heads of state and government, both sitting and retired; high-profile businesspeople, sports stars, actors and other celebrities show up in a trove of 11.5 million leaked documents exposing hidden financial dealings through offshore firms.
The investigation is the work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 100 news organizations, and it shows how a Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca has helped wealthy clients conceal their assets over the last 40 years.
Pedro Almodóvar and his brother Agustín are some of the Spanish celebrities who show up on the list
The Panama Papers have already implicated personal friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, former UEFA president Michel Platini, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, Barça soccer player Lionel Messi and several Spanish celebrities.
The revelation, described by the ICIJ as “likely the biggest leak of inside information in history,” affects 200,000 companies, representing approximately two-thirds of all the corporations managed by Mossack Fonseca.
An anonymous source handed the documents to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with the ICIJ, an umbrella group for 107 news organizations from 78 countries.
The Spanish connection
Also on the list are the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and his brother Agustín, both of whom told the TV station La Sexta that they have already regularized their tax situation. Pilar de Borbón, sister to former Spanish King Juan Carlos, also showed up among the clients of Mossack Fonseca.
The Almodóvars had power-of-attorney to handle the affairs of Glen Valley Corporation, a firm incorporated in the Virgin Islands and active between March 1991 and November 1994. Both men have denied any direct or indirect participation in an offshore company.
Pilar de Borbón, aunt to Spanish King Felipe VI, had been director and president of the Panama-based Delantera Financiera SA since August 1974, a month before then-Crown Prince Juan Carlos took over as interim head of state in Spain due to the dictator Francisco Franco’s poor health. The company was dissolved only five days after Felipe VI’s coronation in June 2014.
The Argentinean trail
According to the leaked files, Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, his father Francisco and his brother Mariano were directors of a firm called Fleg Trading Ltd, incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved in January 2009. Macri did not reveal his ties to Fleg Trading in his asset declarations of 2007 and 2008, when he was mayor of Buenos Aires.
Macri did declare a US bank account at Merrill Lynch containing $9.1 million, and $5.9 million in the same account the following year. He also declared $500,000 in foreign assets in 2008, although he did not specify their origin or location, according to the news organizations that analyzed the documents.
A spokesman for the government of Argentina told EL PAÍS that the accounts in the Panama Papers do not belong to Mauricio Macri himself but to the family-owned business group Socma, and insisted that this group declared those accounts, so that the Argentinean president never avoided paying taxes.
In any case, the spokesman added, the events under investigation took place before Macri entered politics, and only affect Socma, one of the country’s largest corporate groups.
Argentinean soccer star Leo Messi, who has already run into trouble with Spanish tax authorities, is also named in the files. The documents show that the Barça player has a company in Panama whose sole shareholder is his father. The company Mega Star Enterprises Inc was incorporated in Panama and its only beneficiaries are the player and his father, both of whom already face charges of tax fraud in Spain and are scheduled to appear in court on May 31.
English version by Susana Urra.