A leak from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm revealed the offshore financial dealings of hundreds of the world’s elite, including several international heads of state. (RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
April 5, 2016 – stratfor.com
This morning, many of the world’s elite suffered a rude awakening. The Panama Papers, the product of a year’s work by an international network of reporters, had been made publicly available. The information dump, the largest of its kind, reveals the private financial dealings of hundreds of wealthy individuals, with records dating back 40 years in some cases. The development hit the superrich in particular, which partly explains the sensitive nature of the report: Its anonymous source was a leak from within a large law firm in Panama ? a notable haven for offshore wealth ? and its contents reveal the details of offshore companies and holdings. These details are normally hidden from public view and often for good cause, whether to mask tax avoidance or something darker. The average citizen usually lacks the motive and the resources to make use of such facilities.
As it stands, the scandal looks as though it will have a long life. The information so far released feels like only the tip of the iceberg, yet already important figures have been implicated. A trail appears to connect Russian President Vladimir Putin to a string of secret holdings, including a $2 billion offshore account. He is not alone. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has substantial wealth in the British Virgin Islands. Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, already faces stiff pressure to resign after struggling to explain his holdings in a shady company at the time of Iceland’s economic collapse. Various senior figures in the Middle East and Africa are on the list, as are members of China’s Politburo. So, too, is Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri.
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