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Summary

  1. Leaked Panamanian documents reveal global elite's tax havens
  2. Links to politicians including President Putin and Iceland's PM exposed
  3. Panama legal firm kept clients subject to international sanctions
  4. Panorama's Tax Havens of the Rich and Powerful Exposed to be broadcast on BBC One at 19:30 GMT

Live Reporting

By Rebecca Marston, David Gritten and Chris Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's all from the Live page on the Panama papers. There will doubtless be more in the coming days. And we will keep you posted. Thanks for your attention. 

Panama government 'has zero tolerance for illicit financial activities'

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, has said his government has "zero tolerance" for illicit financial activities.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Varela said Panama was an open country and that he would co-operate vigorously with any judicial investigation in any country. 

The president said that since he came to power 21 months ago, his government had taken steps to bolster the country's financial system and make it more transparent. 

'1,000 Germans named in Panama Papers'

Offices of Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Munich
AFP
Sueddeutsche Zeitung says it was offered the leaked documents by an anonymous source

The editor in chief of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper says more than 1,000 Germans are named in the leaked Panama Papers - and they used all the major German banks. Wolfgang Krach says the banks involved included Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, HypoVereinsbank and Bayerische Landesbank. 

The Munich-based paper says it was offered the leaked data from a Panama legal firm more than a year ago through an encrypted channel by an anonymous source. 

Mr Krach told the Associated Press that the paper and its partners verified the authenticity of the data by comparing it to public registers, witness testimony and court rulings. 

Financial services giant says Panama papers 'not representative'

Panama City (16 October 2013)
EPA
The leaked Panamanian documents revealed the global elite's tax havens

The allegations made in the Panama Papers case are not representative of the international financial services industry, affirms the boss of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group,says: “Clearly, tax evasion is illegal and punishable by law. It is a serious criminal global issue that needs to be tackled with more vigour. However, I do not believe that the Panama Papers allegations are representative of today’s wider international financial services industry. 

"Many of the documents that have been revealed by the Panama Papers case date back decades... the idea of a ‘tax haven’, in the traditional sense of the phrase, is now somewhat outdated. In today’s world, in which financial information is being automatically exchanged with tax authorities globally, it is almost impossible to hide money. No longer can people stash assets on ‘treasure islands’ and not expect to be caught."

He adds such centres have a legitimate place: “Offshore financial centres allow those who qualify to do so to use legal, bona fide international investment products to form part of a robust and sensible financial planning strategy."

Sanctioned Syrian and North Korean firms used Mossack Fonseca

Leaked files from the legal firm in Panama show it enabled leading regime figures in Syria and North Korea to keep their companies trading, despite being blacklisted by US Treasury sanctions. 

Mossack Fonseca said it had never knowingly allowed individuals connected with Syria or North Korea to use its companies. 

But a BBC investigation found the firm had set up a company for a North Korean official, Kim Chol Sam, who managed millions of dollars of transactions in support of the country's nuclear weapons programme. 

Mossack Fonseca also fronted six businesses for the Syrian billionaire, Rami Makhlouf, who has been subject to US sanctions since 2008.

The Swiss branch of the British bank, HSBC, provided services for Mr Makhlouf's shell company, Drex Technologies. The bank denied any wrongdoing. It said it worked closely with the authorities to fight financial crime and implement sanctions.

Rami Makhlouf (2010)
AP
Rami Makhlouf is the cousin of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

HMRC asks ICIJ to see leaked documents

Flag of Panama on postbox of a residential building in Germany
EPA
More than 11.5 documents from a Panama-based law firm were leaked

The UK government's tax agency, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), says it has asked the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to share the leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal firms from the Panama-based legal firm, Mossack Fonseca. 

Jennie Granger, HMRC Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, says in a statement: "HMRC is committed to exposing and acting on financial wrongdoing and we relentlessly pursue tax evaders to ensure that they pay every penny of taxes and fines they owe. 

"HMRC can confirm that we have already received a great deal of information on offshore companies, including in Panama, from a wide range of sources, which is currently the subject of intensive investigation. 

We have asked the ICIJ to share the leaked data that they have obtained with us. We will closely examine this data and will act on it swiftly and appropriately." 

US justice department 'reviewing Panama Papers'

The US Department of Justice is reviewing leaked documents published by international media organisations to see if they contain evidence of corruption that could be prosecuted in the US, the Wall Street Journal reports

Earlier, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that while he could not specifically comment on the Panama Papers, "greater transparency allows us to root out corruption", according to the Reuters news agency. 

26,000 Icelanders sign petition calling on Gunnlaugsson to resign

Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson speaks during a parliamentary session in Reykjavik (4 April 2016)
AP
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has insisted he will not resign

More than 26,000 people in Iceland - almost 8% of the population - have now signed an online petition calling on the country's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson to resign, after details of his family's financial affairs were revealed in leaked documents from Panama.

Mr Gunnlaugsson is accused of hiding millions of dollars of investments in the country's banks, behind a secretive offshore company. Mr Gunnlaugsson says no rules were broken, and that neither he nor his wife benefited financially. He said he would not resign.

Icelanders take to the streets to demand PM's resignation

BBC business correspondent tweets  

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Michel Platini denies tax avoidance

Michel Platini (2015)
AFP
Michel Platini has denied wrongdoing in a statement

Suspended Uefa president Michel Platini has said his accounts and assets are known by the tax authorities in Switzerland. 

The former French footballer was identified in leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca as managing an offshore company named Balney Enterprises Corp, according to the Le Monde newspaper. 

The Associated Press quotes a statement by Mr Platini's advisers as saying he "wants to inform that, as he stated it many times to the journalists in charge of the investigation, all of his accounts and assets are known to the tax authorities in Switzerland, where he has been a fiscal resident since 2007".

France opens probe into Panama Papers

France has opened a preliminary investigation into possible money laundering and tax fraud in response to media revelations based on a vast trove of leaked documents about offshore financial dealings known as the Panama Papers. The possible tax evasion was "likely to concern French taxpayers," the financial prosecutors' office said. Several hundred French citizens reportedly feature among the individuals mentioned in the leaked documents.

Spain opens money laundering investigation

Spanish state prosecutors have opened a money laundering probe on Monday in connection with the massive leak of documents exposing the offshore dealings of clients of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, the AFP news agency quotes a judicial source saying.

Former Georgia PM 'has nothing to hide' on tax

The Associated Press reports that a representative for Georgia's ruling party says former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has nothing to hide, after his name allegedly featured in documents released about offshore accounts. 

Gia Volski, a member of parliament for the Georgian Dream party, told state TV that Mr Ivanishvili - a reclusive billionaire who stepped down in 2013 - "has nothing to hide and has never hidden anything".

Panama to investigate Panama Papers firm

Offices of Mossack Fonseca in Panama City (4 April 2016)
AFP
Law firm Mossack Fonseca is based in Panama City

Panama City-based newspaper La Prensa reports that Panama’s Public Ministry will open an investigation into the firm Mossack Fonseca, BBC Monitoring says. 

This would be the second investigation the Public Ministry opens into the law firm this year, the first one being related to its involvement with the Lava Jato case in Brazil. 

Panama's President, Juan Carlos Varela, has announced that his government will co-operate with any investigation, domestic or international, that should arise.

OECD attacks Panama over tax papers

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has attacked Panama over its tax haven status. Pascal Saint-Amans, head of tax for the OECD, told the BBC: "Panama has refused to commit to automatic exchange of information."  

"They've dragged their feet on exchange of information on request. They have not signed a multi-national convention, offering themselves as the place of the ultimate secrecy, and therefore it's no surprise that you have a concentration of bad business there today," he said.

The OECD was tasked by the G20 at the London summit of 2009 with setting out new rules to reform the international tax system. Panama is under investigation over its tax haven status and has yet to pass "Phase 2" of the new transparency rules. It passed "Phase 1" - agreeing to share some tax information globally - only with "reservations", according to OECD sources. 

Investigative journalist unaware of source of Panama leak

Fascinating: the Suddeutsche Zeitung reporter (the original recipient of the information) still doesn't know the identity of #panamapapers mole via @WIRED@ICIJorgbit.ly/1XbGtIY

Panama papers' firm founder stands up for privacy

Ramon Fonseca, one of the founders of the firm at the centre of the Panama papers scandal, says: "We believe that there is an international campaign against privacy. Privacy is a sacred human right. There are people in the world who do not understand that. We definitely believe in privacy and we will continue working so that legal privacy works. If a company that we have formed finds itself in trouble and they approach us to solicit information via the appropriate channels, we immediately give out that information. And I would like to repeat, we have never been implicated in anything except by the media."

Filmaker Pedro Almodovar denies Panama link

Pedro Almodavar
EPA

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and his brother Agustin have insisted their tax payments are in order following revelations that they were listed as agents of a British Virgin Islands company handled by Mossack Fonseca in the early 1990s.

The Argentine newspaper Clarin reported the brothers had denied their involvement in such a company, but El Confidencial reported that Agustin admitted he launched it in 1991 but had shut it down "because it did not fit with the way we worked.''

The allegations stem from a leak of 11 million documents held by the Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Norwegian bank 'regrets' helping set up offshore accounts

Top Norwegian bank DNB says it regrets having helped about 40 customers open offshore companies in the Seychelles with the help of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The bank, which is partially state-owned, said it helped set up the firms between 2006 and 2010 and that the practice had now ended.

"It's the customers' responsibility to report their own funds to tax authorities. Still, we believe we should not have contributed to establishing these companies," Reuters reported Chief Executive Rune Bjerke as saying.

Trade and Industry Minister Monica Maeland said in a statement she had invited board leaders of 30 firms to talks on corruption in June.

"There has recently been revealed several cases of corruption and ethical issues in the broader sense. As owner we have clear expectations to how the companies work with corporate responsibility," AP reported her as saying.

A report in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said DNB had helped customers set up shell companies in the Seychelles to avoid taxes. The Norwegian Tax Administration said it is trying to gain access to the leaked documents.

Russian broadcasters ignore Panama papers

The BBC's Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg says the three main pro-Kremlin broadcasters aren't giving any attention to the Panama tax papers, which allege a President Putin connection. Our correspondent says they contain nothing whatsoever about the Mossack Fonseca story. They are talking about a scandal, but it is what they are calling the "grandiose" UK sports doping scandal.

Panama papers' firm founder speaks

Ramon Fonseca
APTN

One of the Panama law firm's founders, Ramon Fonseca, has called the leak of papers pertaining to his clients and firm's activities "an attack on Panama".

"Certain countries don't like it that we are so competitive in attracting companies."

He says Panama's government has "zero tolerance" for any shady deals. He has also promised to "vigorously co-operate" with any legal investigations. France and Australia have announced investigations.

Offshore accounts of Brazilian politicians 'revealed'

BBC Monitoring

The files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the creation and foundation of offshore companies to Brazilian politicians and their families.

According to newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the political parties involved are the Democratic Labour Party (PDT), the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the Progressive Party (PP), the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) and the Brazilian Labour Party (PTB).

The allegations stem from a leak of 11 million documents held by Mossack Fonseca to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

UK 'has power over offshore territories'

Richard Brooks, a former tax inspector, says the UK has the power over British overseas territories and can effectively shut down these tax havens: "It's a very draconian step though, that's why you need a big coordinated effort to stop this."

'More than 1,000 Italians' among names in Panama Papers

BBC Monitoring

Italian weekly L'Espresso is one of the "reporting partners" working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on the Panama Papers story.

Its website reports that around 1,000 Italians - including a number of high-profile figures - are allegedly among the clients named in the leaked Mossack Fonseca papers.

Authorities react to leaked documents

The word Panama and a miniature flag of Panama pictured on a mailbox of a residential building
EPA

Authorities across the world are being spurred into action after 11 million documents were leaked from the secretive Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, revealing how tax havens are used to hide wealth.

Here is how some countries have reacted:

  • Austria's financial markets regulator says it is investigating whether two banks breached rules on money laundering after being named in the leaks;
  • France's finance ministry says it is seeking the original documents in the leak for its own investigation;
  • Australia's tax office says it is investigating 800 individuals named in the leaks.

Read more on the reaction here.

Argentina's president 'named on leaked documents'

BBC Monitoring

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri
Getty

The Argentine English-language newspaper Buenos Aires Herald reports that the country's President Mauricio Macri has been named in the Panama papers leak.

It carries an image of a "scanned copy of a document showing Mauricio Macri's alleged participation in the Panama-based Fleg Trading LDT company."

The Argentine government said President Mauricio Macri "never had, or has a participation in the capital of that society", referring to Fleg Trading Ltd., in which Mr Macri appears as a director, along his father Franco Macri and his brother Mariano Macri, Buenos Aires based-newspaper Clarin reported.

The allegations stem from a leak of 11 million documents held by the Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

UK interest rates won't rise for a year, says poll

Reuters has conducted one of its round robins asking economists what they think about the direction of UK interest rates. Change is expected, but only 25 basis points, and not until this time next year. If they're right that would take interest rates to 0.75%.

Ukraine president denies doing wrong on tax

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Getty Images

Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko denies he got up to anything rum on tax. He's named in the Panama papers: "I believe I might be the first top office official in Ukraine who treats declaring of assets, paying taxes and conflict of interest issues profoundly and seriously, in full compliance with the Ukrainian and international private law," he said on Facebook. 

He added: "Having become a President, I am not participating in management of my assets, having delegated this responsibility to the respective consulting and law firms."

"I expect that they will provide all necessary details to the Ukrainian and international media."

Market update - US shares open lower

US shares are lower, as is the oil price. Talk of a new deal to curb oil production has fallen on deaf ears - investors don't believe oil exporters will get it together to work together. The Dow Jones is down 18.08 points at 17,774.67, the S&P 500 was down 1.55 points at 2,071.23 and the Nasdaq down 2.71 points at 4,911.83. US light crude is down 0.4% at $36.65 a barrel. London shares are up 17.36 points at 6,163.

Airbus in Serious Fraud Office probe

The UK's export finance authority says it has referred the use of overseas agents by Europe's giant plane maker, Airbus, to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). On Friday, Airbus said it had reported "certain inaccuracies" in applications for export credit guarantees to UK Export Finance, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Airbus said it had nothing to add to Friday's disclosure.

Airbus manufacturing
Airbus

German finance minister calls for 'restrictions'

Over the years German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has pushed for action over tax havens. His spokesman Martin Jaeger told the press:

We have made more progress in the past three years than in the previous three decades."

We can harness this momentum and express the hope that restrictions will be imposed."

Martin JaegerFinance Ministry spokesman

Cameron's spokeswoman on father's tax: 'It's private'

Asked on Monday whether she could confirm that no family money was still invested in the funds mentioned in the Panama papers, Mr Cameron's spokeswoman said: "That is a private matter." The government says it will investigate the leaked data. Mr Cameron's father, Ian, is among the tens of thousands of rich and famous people named in a leak of documents from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca. There is no suggestion Cameron senior did anything illegal.    

All the answers from Have Your Say

BBC World Service

BBC World Have Your Say will answer your questions about the Panama Papers, live on BBC World Service radio from 16:00 GMT today. Among the guests will be journalists involved in the investigation and financial experts. 

Tweet us your questions using this link or message the programme on WhatsApp: +44 7730 751 925. 

Listen here to the show.

Brink's-Mat robbery link to Panama papers

Some of the proceeds from the £26m Brink's-Mat gold bullion robbery near Heathrow airport in 1983 were transferred into a shell company set up by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, the leaked papers reveal.

The robbers melted down some of the stolen gold bullion and eventually turned that into cash, which they then moved offshore using a Panamanian company to buy property to launder the cash. 

The documents allege it was Mossack Fonseca that helped the robbers set up that offshore company. 

According to the leaked information, the law firm continued to help the Brink's-Mat robbers launder their cash even after it was informed that it was working with the proceeds of crime.

Ukrainian MPs focus on Poroshenko

Petro Poroshenko
Getty Images

More reaction to the Panama papers, this time from Ukraine, where MPs have called on parliament to investigate allegations that President Petro Poroshenko (pictured) used an offshore firm to avoid tax.

Mr Poroshenko is accused of setting up an offshore company to move his confectionery business, Roshen, to the British Virgin Islands in August 2014 during clashes between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists.

The president has not commented publicly and office said a law firm representing companies named in the leaks will make a statement later today. 

A senior official in the general prosecutor's office says the leaked documents do not show that Mr Poroshenko had committed any crime.

Mossack Fonseca 'recommended Anglo Irish Bank branch'

The Irish Times tweets:

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France to examine Panama papers

The French government will seek access to the documents behind the Panama papers revelations, the finance ministry has said.

Finance minister Michel Sapin said once authorities had verified the information, they would review the taxes of the individuals concerned and impose any penalties, particularly for non-declared foreign bank accounts and shell companies.

The trick of tracing tax evasion

Cayman Islands
Getty Images

Ben Jones, partner and tax expert at Eversheds, comments:

"It has historically been very difficult for tax authorities to identify and trace tax evasion through offshore holding structures. For many legitimate reasons, offshore jurisdictions often promote themselves on the strength of their secrecy and privacy protections. However, these protections can and have been abused.

"Of late, whistleblowers have provided a significant new weapon for the armoury of tax authorities across the world. However, whistle-blowing is not a reliable source of information on its own and so tax authorities around will the world will need to continue to look for new ways, such as beneficial ownership registers, to pierce the veil of secrecy created through offshore structures."