As the United Kingdom still exercises varying degrees of control over British Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies which make up a large number of the many tax havens and "secrecy jurisdictions" that exist, pressure mounted on Prime Minister David Cameron to make changes. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Panama Papers "are shining a light on the constellation of offshore centers in the last remnants of the British Empire, from Gibraltar to the British Virgin Islands (BVI)." Of the companies created by Mossack Fonseca which were included in the leaked data, the BVI companies topped the list, with 113,000 of the nearly 215,000 companies that Mossack Fonseca managed or incorporated there. British Overseas Territory Anguilla was 7th on the list.
Newspaper Inkyfada had access to the documents and reported a dozen politicians, former government officials and lawyers had been implicated, as well as a leading media figure. Monday April 4, 2016 it reported that the former secretary-general of the Nidaa Tounes political party, Mohsen Marzouk, who was also the coordinator of the new political party, Machrouu Tounes, was on the point of creating his own account in December 2014, in the first presidential elections. Marzouk had written Mossack Fonseca about a company in the Virgin Islands, emphasizing a desire to hold funds and conduct business overseas. Marzouk denies this and has filed a defamation complaint.
Panama still has a reputation worldwide for being a tax haven but has agreed to enhanced transparency, especially since the release in 2016 of the Panama Papers. Significant progress has been made to improve full compliance with anti-money laundering recommendations. Panama was removed from the FATFGAFI gray list in February 2016. However efforts remain to be made, and the IMF repeatedly mentions the need to strengthen financial transparency and fiscal structure.
In a 2015 declaration of assets, dated February 8 and submitted to the Maltese Parliament at the end of March 2016, which Muscat said he'd been shown in draft form before the Panama Papers were leaked, Mizzi listed the trust in New Zealand and the shell company in Panama. As of April 28, 2016 a report on the matter commissioned by the Government of Malta by an unnamed international audit firm was still pending. On April 28, 2016 Muscat announced a cabinet reshuffle; Mizzi lost his ministerial portfolio of Health and Energy, but was retained as a minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
One of the newer tourist areas of the city is the area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal, known as the Amador Causeway. This area is currently being developed as a tourist center and nightlife destination. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a station and a small museum open to the public at Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, the Biomuseo, was recently completed on the causeway in 2014. It was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Just outside the city limits is the Parque Municipal Summit. A new convention center called the Amador Convention Center is being built in Amador by CSCEC in a joint venture with a Panamanian company called CCG Cocige. The Panamanian ministry of Tourism hopes for the convention center to house 100 international events annually. There were plans(proposed by Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela) to build in Amador a campus for the embassy of the People's Republic of China in Panama, however the plans were eventually dropped, due to criticism from the general public and fears that tourists could easily assume that Panama was Chinese territory. Varela in response said that Amador is an area that "must have more value".
And then there are factors the lists and indexes can’t quantify. For instance, the people of Panama are beautiful, inside and out. Get to know them just a little and you’ll see they have big hearts and an even bigger zest for life. They’re welcoming to foreigners, who in turn feel safe here. Increasing numbers of North Americans, Europeans, and others are moving here and contributing to the burgeoning economy.
For over 300 years, the Spanish ruled Panama. Struggles to gain control of many of the Central American countries continued for decades. In 1821, Panama gained independence from Spain only to join what was then Colombia later that same year. In 1846, a treaty between Colombia and the United States was signed, permitting the U.S. to construct a railway across the country.
Prior to the ruling, Maryam Nawaz had tweeted denial of wrongdoing, adding that she did not own "any company/property abroad," except as "a trustee" in a brother's corporation, "which only entitles me to distribute assets to my brother Hussain's family/children if needed." The leaked documents name her as a trustee of Nescoll, created in 1993, and Nielson, first registered in 1994. The two companies subscribed to Mossack Fonseca services in July 2006. Mossack Fonseca was managing Nescoll, Nielsen Holdings, and Coomber Group when the three companies obtained a £7 million mortgage from the Swiss bank, Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA and purchased four flats in Avenfield House, at 118 Park Lane in London. Hassan, the other brother, bought Hangon Holdings and its stock in 2007 for £5.5 million; Hangon then bought property, financed through the Bank of Scotland, at 1 Hyde Park Place in London.
The group of documents was referred to as the "Panama Papers" because of the country that they were leaked from. However, the government of Panama has registered strong objections to the name, as it appears to put some blame or negative association on the country itself, despite its lack of involvement in the actions of Mossack Fonseca. Nonetheless, the nickname has persisted, although some media outlets that have covered the story have referred to as the "Mossack Fonseca Papers."
Central Bank of Cyprus officially declared: "With regard to press reports citing leaked documents, known as the Panama Papers, the Central Bank of Cyprus announces that it is assessing the information to the extent that it may concern the Cypriot banking system and taking, where necessary, appropriate action." A Cypriot online paper said "The Cyprus link stems from the fact that Fonseca runs an office in Cyprus and, more specifically, in Limassol. In a chart, the leaks name Cyprus as a tax haven (countries that offer little or no tax), although it has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, the same as Ireland."
More than 500 banks registered nearly 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca, with HSBC and its affiliates accounting for more than 2,300 of the total. Dexia and J. Safra Sarasin of Luxembourg, Credit Suisse from the Channel Islands and the Swiss UBS each requested at least 500 offshore companies for their clients. An HSBC spokesman said, "The allegations are historical, in some cases dating back 20 years, predating our significant, well-publicized reforms implemented over the last few years."
Azerbaijan International Mineral Resources Operating Company Ltd (AIMROC) and its consortium partners spent nearly US$230 million to open a mine and build a refinery in the western Azerbaijani village of Chovdar. AIMROC possibly produced US$30 million in gold before suddenly disappearing without making payroll in May 2014. Mine employees officially remain on vacation and under Azerbaijani law full-time employees cannot seek work elsewhere even though they have not been paid for two years.
Schembri, a businessman who managed the electoral campaign of the Labour Party in the 2013 Maltese general elections, and serves as chief of staff to Muscat, was reported to hold an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands, and owns an anonymous shell company in Panama, called Tillgate Inc, held by a trust established for him in New Zealand. Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri acquired their shell companies in Panama, Hearnville Inc and Tillgate Inc respectively, via the Mossack Fonseca representatives in Malta, who also tried to open bank accounts linked to the two shell companies of the two politically exposed persons in various jurisdictions. The owner of a third anonymous shell company in Panama, Egrant Inc, whose existence was revealed in the same document referring to the other two companies, remains unknown, although the strict secrecy observed in its acquisition, including the avoidance of e-mail communications and the utilization of communications via Skype, have fuelled strong suspicions that a third top Maltese politically exposed person is involved.
The Irish Times newspaper handled the Irish component of the leak. Prominent Irish names listed included golfer Pádraig Harrington, property developer Sean Mulryan and the manager of Irish rock group U2, Paul McGuinness. The lists also included Stanley Watson, a senior partner of Ireland's largest tax-law firm, Matheson, who have led the creation of many of the Irish corporate tax management tools used by US multinationals in Ireland to avoid billions in US taxes. The list also included Irish Fine Gael political advisor, Frank Flannery.
In 2015, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) was contacted by an anonymous source calling him or herself "John Doe," who offered to leak the documents. Doe did not demand any financial compensation in return, according to the SZ. The total volume of data comes to about 2.76 terabytes, making it the biggest data leak in history. The data pertains to the period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
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President Barack Obama addressed the overseas shell companies listed by the leak in a press conference: "It's not that they're breaking the laws," he said, "it's that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they've got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by." Although no leader in the US was mentioned in the Panama Papers, Obama said that "Frankly, folks in America are taking advantage of the same stuff".
Computer security expert Chris Kubecka announced May 24, 2016 that the Mossack Fonseca client login portal was running four different government grade remote access trojans (RATs). Kubecka confirmed there were still numerous critical vulnerabilities, too many open ports into their infrastructure and internet access to their archive server due to weak security. Kubecka explained how each data security issue was discovered in detail in a full-length book titled Down the Rabbit Hole: An OSINT Journey.
Bjarni Benediktsson, Iceland's finance minister and the chairman of Gunnlaugsson's coalition partner, comes from one of Iceland's wealthiest families. He confirmed that he owned 33% of Falson & Co., a Seychelles shell company founded in 2005 to purchase real estate in Dubai. It was still active in 2009, when Benediktsson was already a member of parliament with financial disclosure requirements. He said he registered the company with tax authorities, and he was not aware that it was registered in the Seychelles. Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal and her husband had powers of attorney for Dooley Securities S.A., an offshore company located in Panama. She said that the company was founded for her husband but was never used, so she did not think she had to disclose it. Hrólfur Ölvisson, the managing director of Gunnlaugsson's Progressive Party, says the Mossack Fonseca companies that list his name have been inactive a very long time, and were legal.
These companies were registered in Panama, according to the documents obtained from Panama Registry of Companies. A one of them, Fargate Mining Corporation was founded by Tagiva Management Ltd., Tagiva Services Ltd. and Verda Management Ltd. They issued the General Power of Attorney granted in favour of Azerbaijan-born individual Mr. Nasib Hasanov. Later, Londex Resources S.A., Globex International LLP, Fargate Mining Corporation and Willy&Meyris S.A. had been registered again at St. Kitts and Nevis with same addresses. It already used for registering other offshore energy holding – The Nobel Oil Ltd., partner of the state oil company SOCAR in Azerbaijan over Umid gas field. Founder of Nobel Oil Group also is Mr. N. Hasanov.
Using Nuix, Süddeutsche Zeitung reporters performed optical character recognition (OCR) processing on the millions of scanned documents, making the data they contained become both searchable and machine-readable. Most project reporters then used Neo4J and Linkurious to extract individual and corporate names from the documents for analysis, but some who had access to Nuix used it for this as well. Reporters then cross-referenced the compiled lists of people against the processed documents, then analyzed the information, trying to connect people, roles, monetary flow, and structure legality.
Since Panama's cultural heritage is influenced by many ethnicities the traditional cuisine of the country includes ingredients from many cultures, from all over the world: a mix of African, Spanish, and Native American techniques, dishes, and ingredients, reflecting its diverse population. Since Panama is a land bridge between two continents, it has a large variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs that are used in native cooking. The famous fish market known as the "Mercado de Mariscos" offers fresh seafood and Ceviche, a seafood dish. Small shops along the street which are called kiosco and Empanada, which is a typical latinamerican pastry, including a variety of different ingredients, either with meat or vegetarian, mostly fried. Another kind of pastry is the pastelito, with the only difference in comparison to empanadas is that they are bigger.
Putin's name does not appear in any of the records released to date, but those of his associates do. Construction billionaires Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, musician Sergei Roldugin and business magnate Alisher Usmanov are mentioned in the leaked documents, as are Putin's long-standing friend, billionaire Gennady Timchenko, as well as his press secretary's spouse, his cousin, and former KGB colleagues, as well as several oligarchs connected to Mossack Fonseca shell companies.
Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, the city is susceptible to tropical cyclones. In 2018, Panama City was directly hit by Hurricane Michael, which caused catastrophic damage to the city and surrounding communities, with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h) at landfall. The city previously suffered significant indirect impacts from Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Opal (1995).
The journalists on the investigative team found business transactions by many important figures in world politics, sports and art. While many of the transactions were legal, since the data is incomplete, questions remain in many other cases; still others seem to clearly indicate ethical if not legal impropriety. Some disclosures – tax avoidance in very poor countries by very wealthy entities and individuals for example – lead to questions on moral grounds. According to The Namibian for instance, a shell company registered to Beny Steinmetz, Octea, owes more than $700,000 US in property taxes to the city of Koidu in Sierra Leone, and is $150 million in the red, even though its exports were more than twice that in an average month in the 2012–2015 period. Steinmetz himself has personal worth of $6 billion.
Many individuals mentioned in the Panama Papers are connected with the world governing body of association football, FIFA, including the former president of CONMEBOL Eugenio Figueredo; former President of UEFA Michel Platini; former secretary general of FIFA Jérôme Valcke; Argentine player for Barcelona Lionel Messi; and, from Italy, the head manager of Metro, Antonio Guglielmi.
The city proper has approximately 880,691 inhabitants in 23 boroughs. The inhabitants of Panama City are commonly referred to as capitalinos and include large numbers of Afro-Panamanians, mestizos, and mulattos, with notable white and Asian minorities. There is a great deal of cultural diversity within the city, which manifests itself in the wide variety of languages commonly spoken, such as German, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew and English, in addition to Spanish.
Official Chinese statistics show investment in British Overseas Territories acting as tax havens being much more significant than in other places: $44 billion invested in the Cayman Islands and $49 billion in the British Virgin Islands. Despite these figures "probably exclud[ing] the private investments of the many family members of the ruling elite who have channelled money through the BVI", both figures exceed Chinese investment in the United States and United Kingdom.
The OECD, the G20, or the European Union could also institute another list for countries that are inadequate in more than one area. Countries meeting none of these criteria, such as Panama, Vanuatu and Lebanon, would go on the blacklist. Countries that meet only one criterion would go on the greylist. In April 2016, if this greylist had been in place it would have included nine countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Brunei, Dominica, Liberia, Nauru, Samoa, Tobago and the United Arab Emirates.