More Names and Details to Come From Panama Papers in May

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Updated: April 5, 2016

128 – that is the number of world leaders and public officials that the recently exposed Panama Papers have revealed details on as they relate to hidden financial dealings.  So far, on our local scene, there has only been the implication of Lord Michael Ashcroft via his company, Belize Corporate Services doing business with the Panama Law Firm, Mossack and Fonseca and the establishment of the MF and Company (Belize) Limited.  The MF and Company Belize Limited is listed on the International Business Companies Registry and provides the address, fifteen A Street in Belize City which is the office for the law firm, Courtenay Coye.  The over two terabytes of data has reportedly come out of the Mossack Fonseca offices in Panama and has files on over two hundred thousand offshore entities, connecting persons from more than two hundred countries and territories.  According to the website of The Panama Papers, a full list of those companies and the names of the persons linked to them will be released early next month.  The Mossack Fonseca firm has branches in Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and dozens of other places around the world and is said to create shell companies and corporate structures to hide personal assets by powerful leaders, officials and celebrities.  The Panama Papers are said to include emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and concrete records that reveal the secret owners of bank accounts and companies in almost two dozen jurisdictions.  The clientele of Mossack Fonseca reportedly includes Ponzi schemers, drug kingpins, tax evaders and a sex offender among dozens more.  While offshore banking is not illegal, the banks do have an obligation to conduct due diligence on their clients and aid in re-enforcing the anti-money laundering efforts.  It is uncertain as to what impacts these revelations will have on countries and jurisdictions but in Iceland alone, just yesterday we told you of a protest at their Parliament over concealed financial dealings by their Prime Minister.  Today, we can tell you that the Prime Minister of Iceland has resigned.  The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, who have reviewed the leaked documents, was founded in 1997 as a project of the Centre for Public Integrity as a journalism watchdog project, geared at uncovering issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.