World leaders and celebrities are implicated in ‘biggest leak of financial information in history’

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In what is claimed to be the biggest leak of financial information in history alleges a number of world leaders and celebrities are implicated in hiding wealth in offshore accounts.

The so-called Panama Papers are part of a leak of 11m files from the database of Mossack Fonseca – the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung says it has obtained a vast trove of documents detailing the offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the amount of data it obtained is several times larger than a previous cache of offshore data published by WikiLeaks in 2013 that exposed the financial dealings of prominent individuals.

According to The Guardian – another one of the media organisations receiving the leaked documents – the papers implicate a key member of FIFA’s powerful ethics committee, Pakistan’s prime minister, president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Alaa Mubarak – son of Egypt’s former president – and the prime minister of Iceland.

Among the reported disclosures are a suspected $2bn money laundering ring run by a Russian bank and said to involve close associates of President Vladimir Putin.

In all, the Guardian said there were 12 national leaders among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world who were shown to have been using offshore tax havens.

In Britain, the paper said there were six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and “dozens” of donors to UK political parties who have been shown to have had offshore assets – although none have so far been named.

In Britain, the paper said there were six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and “dozens” of donors to UK political parties who have been shown to have had offshore assets – although none have so far been named.

Others who have been caught up in the disclosures include Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson who is facing calls for his resignation over claims he had an undeclared interest in his country’s bailed-out banks.

In China, the Guardian said, the families of at least eight current and former members of the supreme ruling politburo had been found to have hidden wealth offshore.

And 23 individuals who had had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria were said to have been revealed to have been clients of Mossack Fonseca.

In response to the allegations against Mr Putin, the Guardian said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the investigation as an “undisguised, paid-for hack job” and warned Russia had “legal means” to defend his dignity and honour.

The BBC said that Mossack Fonseca had said that it had operated “beyond reproach” for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing.

The document leak comes from the records of the firm, which was founded in 1977, and reveal how the rich and powerful use secret offshore tax havens to get around the law.

They reportedly show how the Panamanian law firm helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.

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