Ashcroft Companies Surface in The Panama Papers

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Updated: April 4, 2016

On the heels of a meeting, headed by the outgoing President of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Sir Ronald Sanders, to discuss the financial challenges in the Caribbean due to the de-risking movements by the United States comes a report dubbed, The Panama Papers.  The Panama Papers is the collection of over eleven million documents and about two point six terabytes of data leaked from a Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca.  The leaked documents were reportedly analysed by over three hundred journalists which led to the exposure of clients involved in bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking.  Belize’s name came up in the report on the Panama papers as it is being reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that Lord Michael Ashcroft’s offshore company, Belize Corporate Services represented Mossack Fonseca in Belize and used them to provide shell corporations for its clients as far back as 2006.  In 2013 it is reported that the Belize Bank International which is owned by Ashcroft’s Belize Corporate Services established a firm called MF and Company Limited with its owners being Ramon Fonseca, Jurgen Mossack and Christopher Zollinger.  This new firm reportedly worked with Belize Corporate Services in creating companies and acting as registered agents in Belize.   Interestingly enough, Belize Bank which is also owned by Belize Corporate Services was the first institution in Belize to be cut off by Bank of America and Commerzebank in April 2015, thus getting the ball rolling on the severing of the correspondent banking relations in Belize.  There is an abundance of information coming out of the Panama Papers and for now it is uncertain just how revealing it will get or how adverse it will prove to be for Belize’s financial sector.  According to the report, the Panama Papers is proof that the de-risking movement should continue, adding that the Mossack-Fonseca firm had direct links to the allies and relatives of the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.  Regarding the involvement of Ashcroft’s company, there was response coming out of the Ashcroft camp via Alan Kilkenny.  Kilkenny says, quote, “these allegations are completely untrue, and the events as described never happened. The records upon which you [ICIJ] claim to rely for those allegations either do not exist or have been falsified.”  End of quote.  In other parts of the world, the Panama Papers are having serious effects as in Iceland, there has been protestors outside the country’s Parliament calling for the Prime Minister to resign after the leaked documents showed personal financial arrangements made that some critics say will affect the country’s international reputation.  The Panama Paper is said to be the biggest leak ever, larger than WikiLeaks’ and Snowden’s. One online news site says, quote, “Now called the Panama Papers, it is already recognized as maybe the biggest leak in the history of journalism. World leaders, athletes and celebrities around the globe have been implicated — and there’s more to come.”  End of quote.  The Panama Papers came about in late 2014 when a source, referring to himself as John Doe contacted an investigative journalist for a German newspaper with the data which turned out to be just about every document generated by Panamanian law firm Mossack, Fonseca & Company.  Mossack, Fonseca and Company is a firm known among the global elite and is the fourth-largest law firm for offshore tax havens.