Reports drawn from 11.5 million leaked documents detailing how and where politicians, businesses and celebrities hide their wealth are triggering reactions from around the globe.
The reports by an international coalition of media outlets working with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists are based on documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s biggest creators of shell companies.
Here’s a look at some reactions the reports are drawing:
The office of Argentine President Mauricio Macri confirmed a report by La Nacion newspaper that a business group owned by Macri’s family had set up Fleg Trading Ltd. in the Bahamas. But it said Macri himself had no shares in Fleg and never received income from it.
A tax agency said it is investigating more than 800 wealthy people for possible tax evasion linked to their alleged dealings with Mossack Fonseca. The Australian Tax Office said that it had linked more than 120 of those people to an offshore services provider in Hong Kong, but did not name the company.
The Czech Center for Investigative Journalism said leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm show that 283 Czech citizens are associated with offshore companies. The centre said the most favourite offshore haven for Czechs are the Seychelles, followed by the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas and others.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec says police will investigate the data.
A French prosecutor launched an investigation into possible money laundering after the release of the leaked documents. Several hundred French citizens reportedly feature among the individuals mentioned.
News reports alleged that Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife set up a company in the British Virgin Islands. The reports have prompted calls for a no-confidence vote in parliament against him.
Gunnlaugsson went on Icelandic television Monday and said he would not resign. He added that there is nothing new in the information contained in the data leak.
Italian weekly L’Espresso said about 1,000 Italian clients turned up in a database of offshore accounts cited in the media investigation, including Alitalia chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
L’Espresso said documents showed a series of contracts set up in 2007 indicated Montezemolo as the head of a Panama-based company named Lenville. It said Montezemolo, who was Fiat chairman and Ferrari CEO at the time, declined comment when contacted.
Prime Minister John Key rejected ICIJ’s characterization of his country as among 21 tax havens used by Mossack Fonseca.
“Tax havens are where there is nondisclosure of information,” Key said. “New Zealand has full disclosure of information.”
The bank DNB said it regrets having helped about 40 customers open offshore companies in the Seychelles with the help of Mossack Fonseca.
The bank was reacting to a report in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten showing it had helped customers set up shell companies in the Seychelles to avoid taxes.
The bank said “that it was legal to set up this type of companies doesn’t mean that it was correct for us to do it for these customers.”
Documents published by more than 100 media outlets alleged that President Vladimir Putin’s friends, including leading cellist Sergei Rodulgin, were engaged in an offshore scheme.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that there was nothing to implicate the president. Peskov suggested that the publication was a smear campaign with Putin as a target with a goal of influencing Russian politics.
Spanish tax authorities said they are investigating allegations of tax irregularities involving soccer player Lionel Messi.
Messi’s family released a statement Monday denying wrongdoing and threatened to sue media outlets that released the information linking the Argentine player to accounts in Panama.
Documents from Mossack Fonseca indicate that Ukraine President Petro Proshenko set up an offshore holding company to move his candy business to the British Virgin Islands, possibly saving millions of dollars in Ukrainian taxes. Poroshenko had promised voters he would sell his business when he ran for office.
Poroshenko insisted Monday that he has done nothing wrong and hasn’t managed his assets since being elected. Some adversaries are calling for his removal from office.