Mossack Fonseca has managed more than 300,000 companies over the years. The number of active companies peaked at more than 80,000 in 2009. Over 210,000 companies in twenty-one jurisdictions figure in the leaks. More than half were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, others in Panama, the Bahamas, the Seychelles, Niue, and Samoa. Mossack Fonseca's clients have come from more than 100 countries. Most of the corporate clients were from Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Panama, and Cyprus. Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, incorporators, and others to set up companies, foundations, and trusts for their clients. Some 3,100 companies listed in the database appear to have ties to US offshore specialists, and 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies list US addresses. Mossack Fonseca has offices in Nevada and Wyoming.
Steinmetz, who has a personal fortune of $6 billion, supplies diamonds to Tiffany and DeBeers and is Sierra Leone's largest private investor. Yet, according to a detailed report in The Namibian, his Octea subsidiary owes, among other debts, property taxes of $700,000 to the city of Koidu. These unpaid taxes are discounted, according to mayor Saa Emerson Lamina, because Octea promised a 5% profit−sharing agreement, and payment 1% of its annual profit to a community development fund, but it did not do this either.
Spanish authorities had little control over much of the territory of Panama. Large sections managed to resist conquest and missionization until very late in the colonial era. Because of this, indigenous people of the area were often referred to as "indios de guerra" (war Indians) who resisted Spanish attempts to conquer them or missionize them. However, Panama was enormously important to Spain strategically because it was the easiest way to transship silver mined in Peru to Europe. Silver cargoes were landed at Panama and then taken overland to Portobello or Nombre de Dios on the Caribbean side of the isthmus for further shipment.
Initially, only select names of politicians, public officials, businessmen, and others involved were revealed. One of the immediate consequences of the revelations was the April 4, 2016, resignation of Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. On May 9, all of the 214,488 offshore entities named in the Panama Papers became searchable via a database on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The Ministry of Economy and Finance of Panama, Dulcidio de la Guardia, formerly an offshore specialist at Mossack Fonseca competitor Morgan & Morgan, said the legal but often "murky" niche of establishing offshore accounts, firms and trusts make up "less than half a percentage point" of Panama's GDP. He appeared to suggest that publication of the papers was an attack on Panama because of the high level of economic growth that the country had shown.
Real estate in London, where housing prices increased 50% from 2007 to 2016, also is frequently purchased by overseas investors. Donald Toon, head of Britain's National Crime Agency, said in 2015 that "the London property market has been skewed by laundered money. Prices are being artificially driven up by overseas criminals who want to sequester their assets here in the UK". Three quarters of Londoners under 35 cannot afford to buy a home.
On April 8, a few hours after the publication of a new series of articles focusing on art hidden behind offshore companies, a prosecutor sequestered a Modigliani worth some $25 million at Geneva Freeport. Litigation in New York alleged the painting had been stolen by Nazis during World War II; the defendants said they did not own it, but the leaked documents show that they control International Art Center, a shell company registered in Panama which does own it.
Relatives of highly placed Chinese officials including seven current and former senior leaders of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China have been named, including former Premier Li Peng's daughter Li Xiaolin, former Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang's son Hu Dehua and Deng Jiagui, the brother-in-law of current general secretary Xi Jinping. Deng had two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands while Xi was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, but they were dormant by the time Xi became General Secretary of the Communist Party (paramount leader) in November 2012. Others named include the son and daughter-in-law of propaganda chief Liu Yunshan and the son-in-law of Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.
Art collectors Marina Ruiz-Picasso and Borja Thyssen have Mossack Fonseca companies. Thyssen's lawyer said his company was fully declared to tax authorities and Ruiz-Picasso declined comment. Other celebrities involved include Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who won an Oscar in 2003 for Habla con ella and with his brother Agustin created a company in 1991 called Glen Valley in the British Virgin Islands. Agustin responded saying he closed the company in 1994 and it paid all of its taxes.
Alaa Mubarak, son of former president Hosni Mubarak, was cited as owning, through holding companies, real estate properties in London. The assets of his Virgin Islands-registered firm Pan World Investments were frozen in response to a European Union order when his father stepped down in 2011 during the Arab Spring. Mossack Fonseca was fined $37,500 in 2013 for lack of due diligence. Alaa and his brother were convicted last year of embezzling state funds and still face trial for insider trading.
A 2012 investigation, by Radio Free Europe and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) discovered that through overseas holding companies, the daughters of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev owned an interest in a gold mine operation created by a 2006 presidential decree forming a consortium, then awarding it a 30-year lease over environmental and transparency objections in Parliament.
Octea's subsidiary, Koidu Holdings, obtained the mine for $28 million, which was supposed to be a deposit, in 2002. Fighting had stopped in Sierra Leone, and the mine had previously been held and worked by South African firm Branch Energy, in payment for the services of its parent company, Executive Outcomes, "effectively...a military battalion for hire," against rebel fighters in the area. Steinmetz has since put $300 million into the project.
ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Fort San Lorenzo, Colon, Colon ProvinceThe ruins of San Lorenzo Fort which is famous for repelling attacks by all the pirates of the Caribbean for almost 75 years. Duration: 1 hourStop At: Agua Clara Locks, Colon, Colon ProvinceYou will have the opportunity to see post-Panamax boat transiting the new Canal Locks.Duration: 1 hour