Mossack Fonseca documents provide new insight and confirmation for a previously-litigated tax case where an offshore company transferred its registration to avoid paying capital gains tax in Uganda. The documents show that Heritage Oil and Gas Limited (HOGL) knew in advance of a capital gains tax that Uganda planned to enact. HOGL was then operating in Uganda and planned to sell half its Ugandan assets. It "urgently" moved its registration from the Bahamas to Mauritius to avoid the tax. Mauritius has a double taxation agreement with Uganda, meaning that HOGL would pay tax in only one of the two countries. But Mauritius does not have a capital gains tax, so by moving there Heritage reduced its capital gains tax to zero. Emails clearly show that this was the reason for the transfer, although company attorneys deny it.
Being from Argentina, I was interested in this documentary because our President was one of the many figures in Western politics mentioned in this scandal. However, as in the other cases mentioned on the movie, the movie barely makes a passing mention of the case and doesn't bother to explain it in detail. Instead of explaining, step by step, how the process of setting up an offshore company works, exactly what each politician mentioned was involved in, and what the evidence against them was (which could have helped bring transparency into this important issue), the movie wastes time (more than an hour to be precise) talking about the journalists involved, how their investigation took place, and describing their collaborative international process in combing through the evidence, in what feels like a self-congratulatory exercise. While in itself interesting, I believe me and most of the audience were more interested in the actual contents of the Panama Papers itself and not on the journalistic process which made it happen. The documentary, in my opinion, gives an undue weight on this aspect of the story. The second part, on which the arrests made in Panama are described, is more interesting, but this extends for only 20 minutes, before we are back to the journalistic side of the story again.
In 2008–2009, the Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) and its owner Beny Steinmetz paid just $165 million for the mining rights to the northern portion of Simandou mine, located in the Nzérékoré region of Guinea's interior. Soon after, he sold 51 percent of the rights to Vale for $2.5 billion. Rio Tinto, which had previously held the concession, had invested $450 million into infrastructure at the site. Global Witness says BSGR in fact paid nothing for the rights, and the $165 million represents BSGR's self-reported investment in improvements at the site. It adds that either way BSGR's profit exceeded the national budget of Guinea.
Leaked documents also indicate that the firm would also backdate documents on request and, based on a 2007 exchange of emails in the leaked documents, it did so routinely enough to establish a price structure: $8.75 per month in the past. In 2008, Mossack Fonseca hired a 90-year-old British man to pretend to be the owner of the offshore company of Marianna Olszewski, a US businesswoman, "a blatant breach of anti-money laundering rules" according to the BBC.
In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
More than thirty Costa Rican law firms are mentioned in the Panama Papers as referring clients to Mossack Fonseca, resulting in the creation of more than 360 shell companies. in particular Gonzalo Fajardo & Asociados, founded by former Finance Ministry official and later Economy Minister Gonzalo Fajardo Salas, and over nearly two decades helped Costa Rican companies set up 82 offshore corporations in tax havens, according to DataBaseAR.
Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. It broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, a union of Nueva Granada, Ecuador, and Venezuela. After Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada eventually became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914. The 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on December 31, 1999.
Kalotti, which exports about 40% of Dubai's gold, bought about $5.2 billion in gold in 2012 with little to no paperwork, according to Ernst & Young partner Amjad Rihan. Rijan has said that both the DMCC and his employer squashed his concerns, and the DMCC changed its audit procedures to ensure a more favorable outcome in the future. ANCIR journalists obtained records showing that Kalotti has sold "scrap gold" to other refiners including Valcambi. Leaked documents show PAMP Holding Mauritius signed an agreement with MKS Holding BV and two shell companies described as its beneficial owners: Panama-based Mountside Investment and Hong Kong-based Dynamic Bonus Limited. In 2010 MKS Holdings owned 72% of a joint venture between MMTC Ltd., owned by the State of India, and Switzerland's PAMP. This joint venture does supply big multinationals like Apple.
On December 12, 2014, José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.
US authorities say that Steinmetz paid Mamadie Touré $5.3 million for her help in obtaining the concession from her husband Lansana Conté, president of Guinea, shortly before he died. According to Global Witness, an offshore company belonging to Touré, Matinda, received a payment of $2.4 million from a company named Pentler Holdings. Several more payments were promised as well as 5% of BSGR shares in Simandou. Pentler owned 17.65% of BSGR Guinea.
Areas of alluvial soils (which develop from clay, silt, sand, and gravel deposited by streams) are especially fertile but are limited to the lower parts of river valleys. The commercial banana plantations around Puerto Armuelles and in western Bocas del Toro province are mainly on alluvial soils. Some of the soils along the inland edges of coastal mangrove swamps have also proved productive. In some areas, exceptionally fertile soils have developed from volcanic ash.
Panama City is a city and the county seat of Bay County, Florida, United States. Located along U.S. Route 98, it is the largest city between Tallahassee, Florida and Pensacola, Florida. It is the larger (population-wise) of two principal cities of the Panama City-Lynn Haven, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 36,484. When Panama City was incorporated in 1909, its original city limits were 15th Street (Hwy 98) on the north, Balboa Avenue on the west and Bay Avenue on the east.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) claims more than 40,000 members. Smaller religious groups include Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Episcopalians with between 7,000 and 10,000 members, Jewish and Muslim communities with approximately 10,000 members each, Hindus, Buddhists, and other Christians. Indigenous religions include Ibeorgun (among Kuna) and Mamatata (among Ngäbe). There are also a small number of Rastafarians.
The Procuraduría de la Nación announced that it would investigate Mossack Fonseca and the Panama papers. On April 12, the newly formed Second Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime raided Mossack Fonseca and searched their Bella Vista office as part of the investigation initiated by the Panama Papers. The Attorney General's office issued a press release following the raid, which lasted 27 hours, stating that the purpose was "to obtain documents relevant to the information published in news articles that establishes the possible use of the law firm in illegal activities". The search ended without measures against the law firm, confirmed prosecutor Javier Caraballo of the Second Prosecutor Against Organized Crime.
The balboa replaced the Colombian peso in 1904 after Panama's independence. Balboa banknotes were printed in 1941 by President Arnulfo Arias. They were recalled several days later, giving them the name "The Seven Day Dollars". The notes were burned by the new government, but occasionally balboa notes can be found in collections. These were the only banknotes ever issued by Panama and US notes have circulated both before and since.
Former IMF president Rodrigo Rato, vice-president in the conservative government of prime minister José María Aznar, had more than €3.6 million in two offshore companies. He has been charged by Spain with alleged tax offenses, money laundering and corruption among individuals in other cases of corruption. Micaela Domecq-Solís, the wife of Miguel Arias Cañete, currently the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy and formerly the EU Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, also opened shell societies.
The 2012 investigation's reporters, established that Globex was owned through shell companies in Panama, and that these shell companies belonged to the president's daughters and a Swiss businessman whose name appears in other shell companies such as those that manage Azerphone, the family telecommunications monopoly. Villagers told reporters they hoped to work at the mine, which paid $12 a day, and asked them to intervene with the president about the problems the mine was causing with the water supply. They became angry and did not believe the reporters when they said the president's family had a stake in the mine.
Ethnic groups in Panama include Mestizo people, who have a mix of European and native ancestry. Black Afro-Panamanians account for 15–20 percent of the population. Most Afro-Panamanians live on the Panama-Colón metropolitan area, the Darien Province, La Palma, and Bocas Del Toro. Neighborhoods in Panama City that have large black populations include: Curundu, El Chorrillo, Rio Abajo, San Joaquín, El Marañón, San Miguelito, and Santa Ana. Black Panamanians are descendants of African slaves brought to the Americas in the Atlantic Slave Trade. The second wave of black people brought to Panama came from the Caribbean during the construction of the Panama Canal. Panama also has a considerable Chinese and Indian (India) population brought to work on the canal during its construction. Most Chinese-Panamanians reside in the province of Chiriquí. Europeans and white-Panamanians are a minority in Panama. Panama is also home to a small Arab community that has mosques, practises Islam, as well as a Jewish community and many synagogues.
Rodrigo de Bastidas sailed westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, and became the first European to explore the isthmus of Panama. A year later, Christopher Columbus visited the isthmus, and established a short-lived settlement in the Darien. Vasco Núñez de Balboa's tortuous trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1513 demonstrated that the isthmus was indeed the path between the seas, and Panama quickly became the crossroads and marketplace of Spain's empire in the New World. Gold and silver were brought by ship from South America, hauled across the isthmus, and loaded aboard ships for Spain. The route became known as the Camino Real, or Royal Road, although it was more commonly known as Camino de Cruces (Road of Crosses) because of the number of gravesites along the way.
HSBC also appeared to reassure Mossack Fonseca not only that it was "comfortable" with Makhlouf as a client but suggested there could be a rapprochement with the Assad family by the US. Makhlouf is already known to be a long-standing client of HSBC's Swiss private bank, holding at least $15 million with it in multiple accounts in 2006. The Panamanian files also show HSBC provided financial services to a Makhlouf company called Drex Technologies, which HSBC said was a company of "good standing".
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport is located on the eastern outskirts of the city's metropolitan area. Two other airports serve Panama City: Panamá Pacífico, previously the Howard Air Force Base, and Marcos A. Gelabert, previously the Albrook Air Force Base. Pacífico serves VivaColombia and Wingo, while Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for AirPanama. All other flights are served by Tocumen.
Nawaz Sharif was the second top official to be ruled out as the result of information disclosures in the Panama Papers. Supreme Court disqualified him from office. One judge said that Mr Sharif was no longer "eligible to be an honest member of the parliament". Pakistan's ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was permitted by the speaker of the National Assembly to select an interim prime minister until the 2018 general election. The Supreme Court verdict was announced in the context of heightened security in the capital. Over 3,000 armed police and members of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force were deployed around the Supreme Court. The verdict followed months of dramatic news coverage and social media debates, the divisions falling largely along party lines.
Lucien Ebata, a Kinshasa businessman, runs Orion Group SA, registered in the Seychelles in 2009 by Mossack Fonseca through the Luxembourg-based Figed, according to the Panama Papers. Ebata, who receives a salary of a million dollars, does a business volume of around a billion, and counts both Shell and the Société nationale des pétroles du Congo (SNPC) among his customers.
The Pacific coastline is extended by the Azuero Peninsula and the Gulf of Panama and by numerous headlands and bays, whereas the largest embayment on the Caribbean side is Chiriquí Lagoon. The Pacific coastline is more indented and irregular, and its continental shelf is much wider than that on the Atlantic side. In addition, most of the republic’s more than 1,600 islands lie off its Pacific coast; they include the Perlas Archipelago (Pearl Islands) and the islands of Taboga, Cébaco, Parida, Jicarón, and Coiba, the largest. The principal archipelagoes off the Caribbean coast are those of Bocas del Toro and San Blas.
One of the most important Panamanian artists is Alfredo Sinclair. He has worked for over 50 years in abstract art and has produced one of the most important artistic collections in the country. His daughter, Olga Sinclair, has also followed in his footsteps and has become another force in Panamanian art. Another very prominent Panamanian artist is Guillermo Trujillo, known worldwide for his abstract surrealism. Brooke Alfaro is Panamanian artist known throughout the world for his uniquely rendered oil paintings. Another prominent artist is Mario Calvit, known as one of the great painters of the generation that flourished in the country between the decades of 1950 and 1970.
The beaches and sunsets highlight the city's natural beauty with places to visit including St. Andrews State Park, Conservation Park, and Shell Island. Dolphin watching, golfing, and fishing are top activities, while sights to visit include Signal Hill Golf Course, Signal Hill Country Club, and Hombre Golf Club. Other notable sights to explore include Gulf World Marine Park and Pier Park.
CEO and then Chairman of Citibank (1998–2006) Sanford I. Weill appears in the documents as sole shareholder of April Fool, a company based in the British Virgin Islands that managed a yacht of the same name from 2001–2005. Weill's second company, Brightao, includes Chinese and American investors and holds share in a Chinese insurance and risk-management firm, Mingya Insurance Brokers.
Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said Costa Rica will push to sign a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Panama. Legislators from several parties are trying to line up political consensus to seek approval of the administration's tax fraud bill and to form a legislative commission to investigate those named in the Panama Papers, according to Emilia Molina Cruz of the Citizens' Action Party. While opposition parties have maintained that the country's financial problems stem from excess spending, according to the Finance Department, the sums Costa Rica loses to tax evasion equal about 8% of the country's gross domestic product, while its deficits have run at about 6%.
Former President Ahmed al-Mirghani surfaced as a client of Mossack Fonseca. Al-Mirghani, who was president from 1986 to 1989, created Orange Star Corporation in the British Virgin Islands through the Panama firm in 1995, when he was living in Egypt after the coup that ended his presidency. He was active in the Democratic Unionist Party there. Orange Star Corporation bought a long-term lease in a tony London neighborhood near Hyde Park for $600,000 the same year al-Mirghani created it, and at the time of his death held assets worth $2.72 million.
Frederik Obermaier, co-author of the Panama Papers story and an investigative reporter at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, told Democracy Now: "Mossack Fonseca realised that Makhlouf was the cousin, and they realised that he was sanctioned, and they realised that he's allegedly one of the financiers of the Syrian regime. And they said, 'Oh, there is this bank who still does business with him, so we should still keep with him, as well'."
The Panama Papers exposed a link between an American oil company's oil concessions and several powerful politicians in Angola. According to the leaked documents approximately fifteen shell companies funneled money through UBS bank accounts to elites in Portugal with direct ties to Helder Bataglia dos Santos of Escom, which describes itself as one of the largest investors in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The account of one company, Markwell Inc, received and sent on over $12 million in 2008 and 2009.
According to the Panama Papers, Zimplats Holdings, a large platinum mining concern, set up a shell company to pay the salaries of its senior managers. Zimplats denies knowledge of the company, HR Consultancy. The company, which was still active in 2015, was unknown to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which may indicate externalization of funds and tax evasion if, as it appears, the salaries were for citizens of Zimbabwe performing work in Zimbabwe.
Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. Its capital, Panama City, is located on the Pacific coast just east of the canal. A cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower above whitewashed bungalows, it enjoys a handsome setting and a growing importance as a commercial and financial services centre for the region. However, its economic progress has been hampered periodically by environmental problems and political turmoil.