A year-long worldwide media investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents, leaked from a Panama-based law firm with offices in 35 countries, exposed a tangle of offshore financial dealings by the elite, from Putin’s aides to relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, sports celebrities and screen stars.
The vast stash of records from legal firm Mossack Fonseca, the so-called Panama Papers, was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with more than 100 media groups by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Here is a summary of who had what to say following the leaks:
White House prefers not to comment
The United States values greater transparency in international financial transactions, the White House said on Monday following the leak of the “Panama papers” revealing offshore financial arrangements of global politicians and public figures.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said while he had no specific comment on the leaked papers from the Panamanian law firm, “greater transparency allows us to root out corruption,” adding that the US Justice and Treasury Departments will continue to be focused on financial corruption.
Kremlin hits out
A furious Kremlin said it was the target of a plot to destabilise Russia after a massive leak of confidential documents fingered President Vladimir Putin’s close associates in allegations of shady offshore financial dealings.
“Putin, Russia, our country, our stability and the upcoming elections are the main target, specifically to destabilise the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who himself figures in the leaked documents, told journalists in Moscow.
Peskov said the allegations contained nothing new, lacked details and were based on speculation. “We know this so-called journalist community,” he added. “There are a lot of journalists whose main profession is unlikely to be journalism: a lot of former officials from the (US) Department of State, the CIA and other special services.”
It would help boost tax revenues: French president
French President Francois Hollande said that the “Panama Papers” revelations about potential offshore tax evasion were good news that would help boost tax revenues.
“I can assure you that as the information emerges, investigations will be carried out, cases will be opened and trials will be held,” Hollande said on the sidelines of a visit to a company in Paris suburbs.
“These revelations are good news because they will increase tax revenues from those who commit fraud.”
Lionel Messi denies tax evasion allegations
The family of Lionel Messi denied that he was involved in tax evasion after the Barcelona star emerged as one of many personalities accused of shady offshore dealings in the Panama Papers scandal.
“The Messi family wants to make clear that Lionel Messi has not carried out any of the acts attributed to him, and accusations he created a…tax evasion plot, including a network of money-laundering, are false and insulting,” it said in a statement.
Ukrainian president defends his commitment to transparency
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko defended his commitment to transparency on Monday after lawmakers called for an investigation into allegations contained in the so-called Panama Papers that he had used an offshore firm to avoid tax.
According to ICIJ, Poroshenko set up an offshore company to move his confectionery business, Roshen, to the British Virgin Islands in August 2014 during a peak in fighting between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.
In response, Poroshenko said he had handed over the management of his assets to consulting and law firms on taking office.
“I believe I might be the first top official in Ukraine who treats declaring of assets, paying taxes, conflict of interest issues seriously,” he tweeted.
Political opponents urge Argentine president to clarify position
Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s political opponents urged him Monday to clarify his links to a company named in the Panama Papers offshore finance scandal.
The conservative president, his father, and his brother Mariano were on the board of directors of Fleg Trading, an offshore company registered in the Bahamas, the newspaper La Nacion reported.
Several top members of the Renewal Front, a center-right alliance that forms part of the political opposition, called for Macri to explain his role.
“There must be no doubt over the president’s image. He should be on national television giving a very good explanation,” said Marco Lavagna, a senior Renewal Front lawmaker.
Spain opens money laundering probe
Spanish prosecutors opened a money laundering probe following the Panama Papers, a judicial source said.
The clients in Spain include the family of Barcelona football star Lionel Messi, an aunt of Spain’s King Felipe VI, Pilar de Borbon, and Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.
“We have opened an investigation for money laundering in relation to the law firm” Mossack Fonseca, said a judicial source at the National Court, Spain’s top criminal court.