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Big names implicated in Panama Papers offshore banking leak

Financial secrets of heads of state, athletes, billionaires and drug lords exposed in biggest ever leak of records from an offshore tax haven.

Lionel Messi, Jackie Chan, several current and former world leaders among names revealed

Argentine soccer star Leo Messi's offshore assets include a newly revealed Panama company called Mega Star Enterprises Inc. Messi's offshore dealings are the target of a tax evasion case in Spain. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)

Offshore holdings of celebrities, politicians, public figures exposed in biggest document leak ever

The Panama Papers leak includes 11.5 million confidential documents shedding light on the assets and murky fiscal dealings of everyone from the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan to movie star Jackie Chan, associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin and soccer player Lionel Messi.

The records, dating as far back as 1977, come from a little-known but highly influential Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The firm is one of the world's top creators of shell companies — corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets.

According to the leaked files, Messi, pictured above, had a Panama company set up for him by Mossack Fonseca in 2012 called Mega Star Enterprises Inc., adding a new name to the list of shell companies known to be linked to him. Messi's offshore dealings are the subject of a tax evasion case in Spain.

Jackie Chan has at least 6 offshore companies 

The leaked documents also reveal movie star Jackie Chan has at least six companies managed through Mossack Fonseca. As with many of the firm's clients, there is no evidence that Chan used his companies for any improper purpose.

(Aly Song/Reuters)

Iceland's PM faces a no-confidence vote...

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife controlled a secret offshore company in the British Virgin Islands when he was first elected to the country's parliament in 2009, according to the leaked documents. 

The files show his offshore corporation held bonds originally worth millions of dollars in three giant Icelandic banks that failed during the 2008 global financial crash. Gunnlaugsson's government negotiated a deal with the banks' creditors last year without disclosing his family's financial stake in the outcome (he sold his stake in the offshore company for $1 to his wife shortly after first getting elected).

Gunnlaugsson has denied in recent days that his family's financial interests influenced his stances, although he now faces a vote of no-confidence in parliament.

(Gian Ehrenzeller/EPA)

...while Ukraine's president faces calls for impeachment

Ukraine's Radical party has called for the impeachment of President Petro Poroshenko over allegations he used an offshore account to avoid taxes. 

"It is the height of cynicism to open offshore companies at a time when hundreds of our soldiers are dying," Radical leader Oleh Lyashko said in a post on Facebook, referring to Ukraine's conflict with pro-Russian separatists.

(J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Father of David Cameron implicated...

The leak could be embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has spoken out against tax evasion and tax avoidance.

His late father, Ian Cameron, is mentioned in the leaked documents, alongside some members of his Conservative Party in the upper house of parliament, former Conservative lawmakers and party donors, according to British media.

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

...So are friends of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin's close friends, including a cellist from St. Petersburg, were shown to be engaged in a complex offshore scheme.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian president is the "main target" of the media investigation into offshore accounts, but that he was not implicated in any wrongdoing. He said suggestions that Putin is involved are a smear likely motivated by "Putinophobia."

(Kirill Kudryavtsev/Reuters)

Offshore companies used by family of Pakistan PM 

The papers also showed the use of offshore companies by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family, including his daughter Mariam and son Hussain.

Pakistani Information Minister Pervez Rasheed denied any wrongdoing on their part. 

"Every man has the right to do what he wants with his assets, to throw them in the sea, to sell them, or to establish a trust for them. There is no crime in this in Pakistani law or in international law," Rasheed said.

(Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

Bollywood stars involved 

The names of Bollywood superstars, including actress and model Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, feature among the more than 500 Indians with connections to offshore financial firms in Panama.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to prosecute those who evade taxes and to bring back money parked in tax havens, but his government has made little progress on that front.

(Yves Herman/Reuters)

With files from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Frédéric Zalac


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