04/04/2016, 19.05
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Many Asian leaders caught up in the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal

by Paul Wang

The names of about 140 world politicians and others, including Chinese President Xi’s brother-in-law, Li Peng’s children, the emir of Qatar, and close friends of Vladimir Putin, pop up in some of the 11.5 million leaked records. They all used the services of Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, to hide their finances from the taxman.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The leaked Panama Papers name scores of people as beneficiaries of banks and shadow companies to hide their finances.

They names include, among others, those of the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the children of Li Peng  aka ‘the butcher of Tiananmen’, the president of Ukraine, the Emir of Qatar, the sons of Hosni Mubarak, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI, close friends of Vladimir Putin, as well as political leaders in Iraq and United Arab Emirates.

Also on the list are sport figures, like Lionel Messi, actors like Jacky Chang, for a total of some 140 political and public figures.

The scandal broke out yesterday when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced that it had obtained 11.5 million records from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, a top creator of shell companies with branches in Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and more than 30 other places around the globe.

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and submitted the encrypted documents, which were then shared with the consortium.

The documents span from 1977 to 2015. Some 370 journalists from 70 countries and more than 100 news organisations got involved in processing the information.

Reacting to the leak, Mossack Fonseca said it did nothing wrong, whilst many of those whose names were cited have claimed their innocence or tried to downplay the issue.

Although the existence of tax havens and their use for illegal purposes are well known, this is the greatest leak in the history of journalism.

For some observers, the extent of this kind of illegal practice is the main issue, and that it involves well-known world leaders, including some who have taken a stance against tax havens.

Interestingly, one of the groups backing the consortium is George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

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