April 4, 2016 12:20 pm
Updated: April 5, 2016 12:55 pm

Panama Papers: Canadians, Putin, Icelandic PM linked to massive offshore tax leak

WATCH: The so-called Panama Papers expose thousands of tax secrets of the world's rich and powerful. The files come from a firm in Panama, called Mossack Fonseca, which specialized in setting up shell companies that can be used to dodge taxes and launder money. Jeff Semple explains.


Professional athletes, actors, as well as current and former government officials from around the world are among those whose names are listed in a massive trove of documents which make up the ‘Panama Papers’ leak which unveiled a complex web of money in the offshore bank accounts of the super-rich. Such structures aren’t necessarily illegal but can be used to evade taxes.

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The Toronto Star and CBC News reported Monday that approximately 350 Canadians are named in the documents, but the two outlets have not released many details.

The Panama Papers: Vladimir Putin among international politicians linked to documents

Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson  is one of several acting politicians caught up in the scandal. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported the nation’s prime minister owned a shell company called Wintris Inc. with his wife Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir which had millions of dollars in bonds invested in Major Icelandic banks. The banks his company had invested in later collapsed.  He’s now facing a no-confidence vote in the wake of the leak.

WATCH: Iceland PM walks out on interview after being questioned about Panama Papers allegations

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko spent eight years in prison and under house arrest during the early 2000’s for money laundering and corruption charges. The Panama Papers leak shows many of Lazarenko’s dealings were connected to Mossack Fonseca.

WATCH: Thousands rally in Iceland after release of Panama Papers ignites controversy for PM

Current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, known as ‘chocolate king’ due to his investments in chocolate was also named in the documents, according to the ICIJ.

President of Argentina Mauricio Macri is named in the documents along with his brother and father, all co-directors of Fleg Trading Inc. The offshore company was created in the Bahamas with the help of Mossack Fonseca in 1998 until it was dissolved in 2009, according to the ICIJ.

READ MORE: Panama Papers: Why should Canadians care?

Though he was not named directly, Vladimir Putin may be the largest name linked to the data leak. The leak shows a money trail of billions connected to close friends and aides of the President. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the investigative leak an example of “Putinophobia” aimed at damaging the country’s reputation during an election year.

“I don’t consider it possible to go into the details” of allegations involving Putin, Peskov told reporters. “Mainly because there is nothing concrete and nothing new about Putin, and a lack of details.”

WATCH: New Zealand PM rejects claims country is a tax haven

In the Middle East several major politicians and their families’ financial dealings were exposed in the leak. Former Prime Minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani’s billions of dollars worth of assets are linked to a company that was registered in the British Virgin Islands and three others in the Bahamas, according to the ICIJ. Mossack Fonseca also helped manage his $200-300 million super yacht Al Mirqab.

The sitting president of the United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan was also heavily involved with the law firm. The ICIJ claims the leak shows he was the owner of around 30 companies controlling luxury properties, potentially worth billions.

Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister of Iraq, and the current King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud used Mossack Fonseca to manage multi-million dollar luxury properties, according to the ICIJ.


The Panama Papers: Celebrities and soccer stars named in huge leak  

Two cousins of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the eldest son of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak used Mossack Fonseca to deal with vast sums made available to them because of their connections to the heads-of-states, according to the ICIJ.

Celebrities, sports stars and extremely wealthy individuals have also been implicated in the leak, according to the ICIJ.

Movie star Jackie Chan allegedly used Mossack Fonseca to deal with the six companies but it isn’t known if the companies were used for tax-evasion.

READ MORE: Panama Papers: What you need to know about offshore accounts

Lionel Messi, a soccer player with FC Barcelona, was also named in the document leak. The Daily Mail claims that at least 20 other soccer stars may have used Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore tax havens.

The Guardian  reported Monday that UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s father Ian Cameron was also named in the documents. Exact details of his involvement, however, has not been released.

WATCH: Britain’s Cameron says he has no offshore trusts or funds

The so-called Panama Papers are a trove of over 11 million legal documents documents weighing in at nearly 2.5 terabytes of data leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists. The ICIJ distributed the documents to hundreds of journalists at dozens of news organizations over the last year.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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