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A world tour of the politicians named in the Panama Papers

© AFP | From left to right, the Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Former French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-04-05

A massive leak of documents to German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung provided details on how more than 120 politicians and officials around the world stashed money offshore. FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the big names on the list.

Most of the alleged dealings reported as part of the so-called Panama Papers are legal, but they are likely to have serious political impacts on many of those named.

The owners of the shadow companies created by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca had previously been kept secret due to the opaque nature of offshore jurisdictions.

Ironically some of the world leaders featured in the leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca have embraced anti-corruption platforms.

The political figures below represent only a fraction of those named in reports emerging from the cache of 11.5 million records, which have been shared with more than 100 news organisations worldwide.

The information below is based on the reporting done by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Europe

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife allegedly used a secret offshore firm called Wintris Inc. to hide money in the British Virgin Islands. Reports claim he owned millions of dollars of Icelandic bank bonds during the financial crisis, when the country's entire financial system collapsed.

Gunnlaugsson is a former journalist and radio personality who helped lead a campaign against bank bailouts after his country’s financial crisis. He became chairman of the Progressive Party in 2008 and Iceland’s youngest prime minister in 2013.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is the sole shareholder of Prime Asset Partners Limited, a company set up in the British Virgin Islands. After assuming office in 2014, he pledged to sell most of his assets, all of which were transferred to Prime Assets Capital.

Dubbed Ukraine’s billionaire “chocolate king”, Poroshenko won the 2014 election by a landslide. At the time he vowed to oppose corrupt oligarchs and “prevent the inappropriate influence of private interests on the state”.

Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac was the owner of a Seychelles company, Cerman Group Limited, incorporated in 2009 as a client of Mossack Fonseca. In 2013 Mossack Fonseca cut its ties with Cerman Group Limited, when it was revealed that Cahuzac was being investigated for allegations of tax fraud.

The baroness and life peer Pamela Sharples in 1995 became the sole shareholder of Nunswell Investments Limited, a company based in the Bahamas that she used to make investments.

The leaked documents showed that offshore deals worth $2 billion led to close friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including billionaire brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg. They were owners of at least seven companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

During Putin’s time in office the Rotenbergs have amassed a fortune in part through lucrative contracts with state and state-owned companies.

Middle East

King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud of Saudi Arabia used money from two companies established by Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands -- Verse Development Corporation and Inrow Corporation -- for mortgages on luxury homes in London and to hold a yacht described by CBS News as “the size of a football field”.

The next in line to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has also been named in the Panama Papers. He used Swiss bank UBS to buy Panamanian companies from Mossack Fonseca to open bank accounts and gain power of attorney.

President of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the beneficial owner of at least 30 companies established in the British Virgin Islands by Mossack Fonseca, through which he held commercial and residential properties around the world.

Sheikh Khalifa built himself a seven-story mountain-top palace in the Seychelles and the world’s biggest yacht, according to the ICIJ. He has also donated millions of dollars to medical research centres in the United States.

Asia

Records showed that family members of at least eight current or former members of China’s Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s main ruling body, have offshore companies. They include President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, who set up two British Virgin Islands companies in 2009 and has made a fortune in real estate development.

Xi has vowed to fight “armies of corruption”.

Ang Vong Vathana has been the minister of justice of Cambodia since 2004. In 2007 Vathana became one of five shareholders of the British Virgin Islands company RCD International Limited. The ICIJ said the purpose of the company was not clear from the documents obtained, but questioned why Mossack Fonseca did not list him as a “politically exposed person”, even though he listed his occupation as “minister of justice” on official forms.

The records show that the family of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev used foundations and companies in Panama to hold secret stakes in gold mines and London real estate.

Latin America

Argentina’s recently elected president, Mauricio Macri, his father Francisco and brother Mariano were directors of Fleg Trading Ltd, incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved in January 2009. As mayor of Buenos Aires in 2007 and 2008, Macri failed to disclose his connection to Fleg Trading. He narrowly won presidential elections last year, promising to liberalise the economy and eliminate corruption.

Mossack Fonseca helped Juan Armando Hinojosa, who has been called Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's "favourite contractor”, to create three New Zealand-based trusts to take over accounts worth approximately $100 million.

Hinojosa’s business empire has secured at least $750 million in business with Mexican government agencies.

Africa

Clive Khulubuse Zuma, the nephew of South African President Jacob Zuma, represented Caprikat Limited, one of two offshore companies that controversially acquired oil fields in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Alaa Mubarak -- the eldest son of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- owned the British Virgin Islands-based firm Pan World Investments Inc., managed by Credit Suisse. Alaa, his brother Gamal, and his father were sentenced in May 2015 to three years in jail for embezzling millions of dollars in state funds intended for the renovation of palaces.

Mounir Majidi has been the personal secretary to the King Mohammed VI of Morocco since 2000. In 2006, Majidi received power of attorney privileges for SMCD Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2005.

The offshore company has authorised the purchase of a luxury 1930s schooner “Aquarius W”, renamed “El Boughaz I” and now owned by King Mohammed VI. Majidi was also administrator of a Luxembourg company called Immobiliere Orion S.A., which borrowed $42 million in 2003 to buy and renovate a luxury Paris apartment. It is unclear who owned the company that lent the money, ICIJ said.

Date created : 2016-04-04

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