A massive leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panama-based law firm offers a glimpse into the shadowy world in which the rich and powerful stash their wealth — and raises sharp questions about the use of shell companies that hide the identity of their true owners.
Leaders of the Group of 20 — representing almost 80% of the global economy — have vowed to crack down on the practice, which is blamed for aiding money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. Countries have tightened rules on using them — but not enough to satisfy anti-corruption activists.
A number of high-profile heads of state have been implicated in the leaks, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Syria’s controversial Bashar al-Assad.
Sharif’s daughter Mariam Safdar was the owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993, both of which were struck off in 2014.
Hussain and Mariam in 2007 conducted transactions in which Deutsche Bank Geneva lent $13.8 million to Nescoll, Nielsen and another unnamed company.
Hasan Nawaz Sharif was the director of Hangon Property Holdings Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
Deng Jiagui was the sole director and shareholder of two British Virgin Islands-based “shell companies” in Mossack Fonseca’s inventory. It is unclear what the two companies were used for.
Kojo Annan was sole director of the Samoan company Sapphire Holding Ltd, which was used to buy a $500,000 London apartment.
Ian Cameron helped create Blairmore Holdings Inc. in Panama in 1982 and was involved in the investment fund until his 2010 death, and allegedly managed it to avoid paying taxes.
Arkady and Boris Rotenberg were owners of at least seven companies in the British Virgin Islands. These investments included a pipeline company and helped build an Italian villa for Arkady’s son.
Sergey Roldugin was the owner of three offshore companies. It is alleged that these companies received advantageous loans.
Poroshenko’s offshore firm, Prime Asset Partners Limited, was set up by Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands and is described as a “holding company of Cyprus and Ukrainian companies of the Roshen Group, one of the largest European manufacturers of confectionery products.” The Ukrainian President set up this company during the 2014 war with separatists backed by Russia.
Watch | ICIJ explains the importance of the Panama Papers leak
Kejriwal and his wife owned several offshore companies and foundations, some of which were used for iron ore trading.
Alaa Mubarak owned the British Virgin Islands firm Pan World Investments Inc., managed by Credit Suisse.
Rami controlled key economic sectors such as oil and telecommunications. He allegedly held such control over the Syrian business that any foreign company seeking to do business in the country had to be cleared by him.
Hafez, a general in charge of Syria’s intelligence and security, was suspected of helping his older brother intimidate business rivals.
Both jointly held at least nine overseas companies.
The King of Saudi Arabia
Used British Virgin Island companies for mortgages on luxury homes in London and to hold a yacht.
President of the UAE
Sheikh Khalifa was the beneficial owner of around 30 companies in the British Virgin Islands, through which he held commercial and residential properties in London, worth at least $1.7 billion.
The Prime Minister of Iceland
Gunnlaugsson owned a British Virgin Islands shell company Wintris Inc., which held nearly bonds worth $4 million in Iceland banks. When the banks collapsed in 2008, he had campaigned against bailing out foreign creditors.
In 2009, when he entered parliament, Gunnlaugsson failed to declare his ownership of Wintris Inc.
Icelanders are now calling for his resignation.