The emails and files show how a law firm in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, helped set up offshore companies that concealed the activities of their true owners. Heads of state in Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Qatar, the UAE, Ukraine, and Iraq and also close friends of Vladimir Putin are on the Panama Papers, linked to secret fortunes. Even the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko created an offshore company that could have allowed him to avoid taxes on his confectionary business Roshen. Jerome Valcke, former secretary general of FIFA, also facing corruption investigations, is revealed in the documents as owner of a company which bought a $3.7 million luxury yacht. Actor Jackie Chan and footballer Lionel Messi are also named among the clients of the law firm.
The transactions in themselves may be legal but the environment is one where illegal actions can be easily concealed. “We provide company incorporation and related administrative services that are widely available and commonly used worldwide. (…) Our services are regulated at multiple levels, often by overlapping agencies, and we have a strong compliance record. (…) Because we do, we have not once in nearly 40 years of operation been charged with criminal wrongdoing. We’re proud of the work we do, notwithstanding recent and willful attempts by some to mischaracterize it,” the law firm Mossack Fonseca said in a long response. In fact, they proved that solely responsible for their activities are the owners of the created offsore companies and even specified that some records in the leaked files “are not and have never been clients of Mossack Fonseca.”