By Victoria McClary, Staff Writer
On Wednesday, more than 11 million documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). These documents hold financial information from some of the top businessmen and women and politicians and their dealings with overseas investment firms. ICIJ received these documents through an anonymous source who gave the documents to Germany newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
According to the BBC, “the company [Mossack Fonseca] has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxes.” Not only that, but the papers also tie these clients to offshore accounts. The papers include the names of politicians such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson as well as important business officials within FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
Jürgen Mossack, one of the founders of the law firm Mossack Fonseca released a statement to Fox News about the leak defending the firm: “People do make mistakes. So do we, and so does our compliance department. But that is not the norm.” He continued by saying that the firm has never been accused of any misconduct in the past.
More investigation is needed to determine the extent of any illegal or unethical activity. Fox News reports that “many of the allegations made in the Panama Papers have yet to be confirmed and it is worth noting that there are legitimate reasons for offshore companies.” Because of this, Icelandic Prime Minister, representatives for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentina’s President have denied their involvement in the scandal. But, Britain, France, Australia and Mexico have decided to investigate the claims of the leaked documents.
The leak led to Iceland’s Prime Minister stepping down on April 5. He felt compelled to do so because the “documents revealed that he and his wealthy wife had set up a company in the British Virgin Islands led to accusations of a conflict of interest,” according to the New York Times.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has been under investigation because of his apparent involvement in an overseas investment firm. The leak of the Panama Papers does not help his case: “the documents also reveal that Britain’s self-governing overseas territories, especially the British Virgin Islands, proved a favored location for companies handled by Mossack Fonseca,” said one New York Times article. In response to these allegations, Cameron stated, “I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that.” His office stated later that neither he, his wife nor his children benefit from “any offshore funds;” however, he later admitted that he had, indeed, benefited from some offshore accounts belonging to his late father. The Guardian reported Saturday that Cameron apologized to supporters and is promising to release his tax returns soon, all while protestors demanded his resignation.