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Summary

  1. Companies subject to international sanctions helped by Panamanian law firm
  2. Credit Suisse and HSBC dismiss claims
  3. David Cameron under pressure over tax havens in UK overseas territories
  4. Panama a 'stand-out bad guy' in terms of tax haven secrecy

Live Reporting

By Tom Espiner, Chris Johnston and Matthew West

All times stated are UK

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Panama Papers recap

Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson
EPA

That's all from the Live page for tonight.

To briefly recap the main points from today:

  • Iceland PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigned - the first major casualty of the leaked Panama Papers that have shone a spotlight on offshore finance
  • Fifa president Gianni Infantino signed off on a TV rights contract with businessmen subsequently accused of bribery, leaked documents showed
  • France returned Panama to a list of countries which fail to co-operate over tax evasion
  • Panama said it is considering retaliatory measures against France, but reiterated that is ready to co-operate with any investigations stemming from the leaks
  • In Chile the head of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International's country branch, Gonzalo Delaveau, stepped down after his name emerged in the documents
  • US President Barack Obama said tax avoidance is a global problem and governments should not make it easy for illegal funds to move around the world
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a judicial investigation into allegations of family links with offshore companies

German chancellor calls for greater tax transparency

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top economic officials have called for greater transparency in the wake of the publication of thousands of names of people who conducted offshore financial activity through a Panamanian law firm.

Ms Merkel said the allegations show "the theme of transparency is of the greatest importance." 

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said it was an "exceptional situation which we should profit from" by pressing Panama to join international financial disclosure agreements.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called it "an opportunity to continue and aggressively move forward to find how these illicit financial flows are moving." 

Fifa head: 'No indication of any wrongdoing'

Fifa president Gianni Infantino
Getty Images

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has made this statement after it emerged he signed off on a contract with two businessmen who have since been accused of bribery:

I am dismayed and will not accept that my integrity is being doubted by certain areas of the media, especially given that Uefa has already disclosed in detail all facts regarding these contracts. From the moment I was made aware of the latest media enquiries on the matter, I immediately contacted Uefa to seek clarity. I did this because I am no longer with Uefa, and it is they who exclusively possess all contractual information relating to this query. In the meantime, Uefa has announced that it has been conducting a review of its numerous commercial contracts and has answered extensively all media questions related to these specific contracts. As I previously stated, I never personally dealt with Cross Trading nor their owners as the tender process was conducted by Team Marketing on behalf of Uefa. I would like to state for the record that neither Uefa nor I have ever been contacted by any authorities in relation to these particular contracts. Moreover, as media themselves report, there is no indication whatsoever for any wrongdoings from neither Uefa nor myself in this matter."

Q&A: British overseas territories and Crown dependencies

Union flag
AFP/Getty Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the government should consider imposing "direct rule" on the 14 British overseas territories and three Crown dependencies if they do not comply with UK tax law. It follows a leak of documents from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca that showed the law firm registered more than 100,000 secret companies to the British Virgin Islands, one of the overseas territories.

What are Crown dependencies?

Read more here.

Panama Papers: Nobility and brothel owners named in leaks

BBC Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill writes...

Shoes
Getty Images

The list of Germans named in the Panama papers makes for colourful reading.

Among the board directors and estate agents who appear to have benefited from shell companies established by Mossack Fonseca are members of the German nobility, recipients of the German honours system and a number of brothel owners.

Read more here.

Q&A: British overseas territories and direct rule

The Union flag flying in the Falkland Islands
AFP/Getty Images

There is a call for the UK government to consider imposing "direct rule" on its overseas territories and Crown dependencies if they do not comply with tax law. 

But exactly what is their relationship with the UK?

The Union flag flying in the Falkland Islands

Q&A: British territories and direct rule

There is a call for the government to consider imposing "direct rule" on British overseas territories and Crown dependencies if they do not comply with UK tax law. What is their relationship with the UK?

Read more

British Virgin Islands 'very concerned' about Panama Papers alleged abuse

Clouds are seen above the island of Nevis
Getty Images

The British Virgin Islands (BVI), long known as a tax haven, has this to say about the Panama Papers leaks:

The government of the BVI is very concerned by the issues that the ICIJ report raises, particularly regarding alleged abuse or misuse of BVI structures. Our regulatory regime is rigorous and it adheres to every initiative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and other international standard setting organisations. We play a constructive role in the furtherance of international transparency, information exchange and anti-money-laundering initiatives at the highest levels and we continue to work closely with the UK and other governments internationally to help progress the financial reform agenda... The BVI actively investigates issues of non-compliance and works with foreign competent authorities to detect, prevent and prosecute illegal activities, ensuring that our laws are enforced and action taken transparently when we identify wrongdoing... The BVI plays a lawful, legitimate and important role in facilitating capital flows and foreign direct investment around the globe."

German nobility and brothel owners in Panama leaks

Among those named in the leak from Panama are German nobility and a number of brothel owners, writes the BBC's Jenny Hill in Berlin

Escort girls await customers in Berlin night club
Getty Images
Escort girls await customers at Berlin's exclusive Night Club Bel Ami on May 16, 2006 in Berlin

German nobility and brothel owners in Panama leaks

Among those named in the leak from a Panama legal firm are German nobility and a number of brothel owners, writes Jenny Hill in Berlin.

Read more

Uefa: Rights sold after 'open, competitive tender process'

Following news that Fifa's new president Gianni Infantino signed off on a contract with two businessmen who have since been accused of bribery, a Uefa spokesman that the football rights were sold following an "open, competitive tender process".

He added that a bid from Teleamazonas was accepted because it was "considerably more" than that from a rival broadcaster.

The spokesman added that what Teleamazonas then did with those rights was "their business, not ours". Uefa points out the Cross Trading contract was one of many hundreds of deals it conducts in relation to Champions League TV rights and comprises a tiny amount of its overall income.

"The TV contract in question was signed by Gianni Infantino since he was one of several Uefa directors empowered to sign contracts at the time," read a Uefa statement. "As you will have observed, the contract was also co-signed by another Uefa director. It's standard practice." 

Fifa head 'named on rights contract'

Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba has a shot on goal against Barcelona during a Champions League Group A football match
Getty Images

Mr Infantino is named on a Uefa Champions League football rights contract with a firm called Cross Trading. The contract concerns Uefa Ecuadorian rights between 2006/7 and 2008/9.

Cross Trading, an offshore company registered to the tiny Pacific island of Niue, paid $111,000 for those rights. Then, according to leaked documents, it sold those to Ecuadorian TV broadcaster Teleamazonas for $311,170. Cross Trading also paid $28,000 for the rights to the Uefa Super Cup, selling those to Teleamazonas for $126,200.

There is no evidence to suggest Mr Infantino received a bribe relating to the 2006 contract with Cross Trading. At the time, he was the director of legal services with European football's governing body, Uefa.

The owners of Cross Trading, the Jinkis - father Hugo and son Mariano - are currently fighting extradition from Argentina to the US.

In May 2015, US prosecutors alleged that they paid millions of dollars in bribes over several years to South American football officials in order to gain lucrative television rights for regional football tournaments.   

BreakingInfantino contract among Panama Papers

Infantino will serve as Fifa president for three years
Getty Images

Fifa's new president Gianni Infantino signed off on a contract with two businessmen who have since been accused of bribery, leaked documents reveal.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis bought TV rights for Uefa Champions League Football and then immediately sold them on for almost three times the price.

The 2006 contract, which was signed off by Infantino when he was a director of Uefa, was among the 11 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Read more here.

Corbyn 'hopelessly misinformed' about tax havens

Boating in Grand Cayman
Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn earlier said the UK should consider imposing direct orders in crown territories including the Cayman Islands to make sure they don't become "a place for systemic evasion and short-changing of the public". 

But Anthony Travers, the chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, told Anna Foster on 5 Live Drive that Mr Corbyn's comments were "hopelessly misinformed".

Over the last 15 years the legislation that has been passed in the Cayman Islands provides for complete tax transparency for HMRC and the IRS and for other EU tax authorities and indeed for law enforcement. So there is no secrecy with regard to transactions in the Cayman Islands whatsoever and I think the position here needs to be distinguished from jurisdictions like Panama where there is no such transparency. The suggestion that there is any sort of covert or non-disclosed activity in the Cayman Islands is redundant. Tax haven is a redundant expression when it comes to the Cayman Islands."

Obama: 'Tax loopholes hurt the middle class'

Barack Obama addressing the media in the White House - Tuesday 5 April 2016
AP

US President Barack Obama has called for greater efforts to tackle aggressive tax avoidance.

He said that tax rules could be better enforced so that large sections of society did not end up paying the bill for "wealthy individuals and powerful corporations" using tax loopholes:

A lot of these loopholes come at the expense of these middle-class families because that lost revenue has to be made up somewhere. Alternatively, it means that we're not investing as much as we should in schools, in making college more affordable, putting people back to work, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, creating more opportunities for our children."

Barack Obama

Mr Obama said the US Treasury had already taken some measures, but Congress needed to act to close these loopholes.

He has repeatedly called for action by the Republican-controlled Congress to legislate against "inversions", when companies change their headquarters to another country to avoid US corporation tax rates, which vary from 15% to 39%.

Just how big was the Panama Papers leak?

Map showing relative size of leaks
BBC

It's worth repeating just how vast a leak this was: the biggest of its kind.

In technical terms, it was 2.6 terrabytes, the equivalent of 2,600 gigabytes.

You may remember the WikiLeaks/Cablegate leaks a few years ago - that in itself was a huge amount of data, some 1.7 gigabytes.

But Panama Papers was 1,529 times larger: in real terms, that's roughly the difference between the population of San Francisco and that of India.

Pakistan commission to probe allegations in Panama Papers

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
AFP

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has set up a high-level commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, to investigate allegations that his family has links to offshore companies.

The BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani in Pakistan said the Prime Minister made the announcement in a televised address to the nation.

This commission will decide after its investigation what is reality and how much weight these allegations [have]."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Opposition leaders have been calling for an investigation following the revelations in the leaked documents from the Panama-based company.

On Monday, one of Mr Sharif's sons, Hussain, said all the family’s business affairs were legal, adding they had done "nothing wrong". 

'Moral indignation is cheap' says Treasury committee chairman

Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie has said that Mossack Fonseca "may well have exposed serious wrongdoing" but that "comprehensive remedies may be difficult to find".

Moral indignation is cheap, but doing something constructive will require painstaking work, and a great deal of investigation and negotiation on the part of HMRC and the government, often with international counterparties. They certainly appear to be making an effort. Perhaps more than at any time since the 1980s, work against unacceptable tax practices has been developed over the last six years. The government’s, and HMRC’s, objectives - to collect the correct amount of tax and clamp down on illegality – require a great deal of transparency. The government will need to press for more. It is particularly important to avoid merely driving business into jurisdictions which lack the necessary transparency. That would increase the risk of money laundering and other serious financial crime."

Iceland's PM first major Panama Papers casualty

Protesters outside Iceland's parliament on Monday 4 April 2016
AP
Protesters gathered outside parliament on Monday

Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson is the first major casualty of the Panama Papers leaks, which have shed an embarrassing spotlight on the world of offshore finance.

"The prime minister told [his party's] parliamentary group meeting that he would step down as prime minister and I will take over," Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson.

He is the Progressive Party's deputy leader.

Mr Gunnlaugsson, who had refused to resign on Monday, has denied any wrongdoing.

He did not declare an interest in the offshore company, Wintris, when entering parliament in 2009.

He sold his 50% of the company to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1 (70p), eight months later.

BreakingIceland's PM resigns after Panama Papers revelations

Iceland"s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (C)
EPA

Iceland’s prime minister has resigned in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

The leaks, from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company, Wintris, with his wife.

He was accused of concealing millions of dollars worth of family assets.

A big protest was held in front of parliament in Iceland on Monday.  

Panama Papers: How did Panama become a tax haven?

Panama
AP

A huge leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, has thrown new light on how the rich and powerful hide their wealth. It has also brought renewed attention on Panama itself, one of the world's best-known tax havens.

But what makes Panama different from other low or no-tax jurisdictions and how did it become this way?

Read more here.

World Have Your Say: Panama Papers

BBC World Service

How would you stop tax avoidance?
BBC

The significance of the Panama Papers revelations will be discussed on BBC World Have Your Say at 17:00.

Ben James will put your questions to tax experts and we’ll hear if the leak will affect the fight against tax avoidance.

Guests include a Danish professor who trained in wealth management and travelled the world working in finance to get an insight into the practices of offshore banking.

Tweet any questions to @bbc_whys

And you can listen to the show here.

Snowden calls for new tax rules

NSA whistleblower tweets...

How did Panama become a tax haven?

Panama City
AP

What makes Panama different from other low-tax jurisdictions and how did it become this way?

Panama City

How did Panama become a tax haven?

What makes Panama different from other low-tax jurisdictions and how did it become this way?

Read more

Brazil asks for Panama's co-operation: report

BBC Monitoring

Miami

Brazil's Federal Public Ministry has begun a process to ask Panama for access to evidence obtained about the Mossack Fonseca law firm, responsible for the creation of offshore accounts, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reports.

For information to be valid as evidence under the Brazilian justice system, it has to be sent to the country by the Panamanian authorities.

However, the information has not yet been delivered to Panamanian justice officials.

"We will ask the Panamanian Public Ministry to send us the information related to Brazilian citizens and other people with dual citizenship," said district attorney Vladimir Aras.

Where the Panama Papers are not the Panama Papers

There is one country where the Panama Papers are not known by that name - yes, Panama.

While the term #PanamaPapers is the most-searched term online across the world for this story, below is the term that is trending in Panama instead (albeit misspelled):

Picture showing Mossack Fonseca Papers tranding in Panama - 5 April 2016
Twitter

There's a bit of a campaign under way among Twitter users there to try to disassociate Panama from the scandal and name it after the law firm involved, Mossack Fonseca, instead.

@wikileaks Why defame the name of a country? This incident should be called #MossackFonsecaPapers. Panama is a nation full of decent people!

It's fair to say it is not a trend that has spread elsewhere.

Panama Papers leak: 'stunning story' behind investigation

The World Tonight

The journalist in charge explains how hundreds of investigators 'kept quiet'

The Panama Papers tax scandal has all the elements of a spy story. A year-long investigation began when the German newspaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, received information from a source, known only as John Doe.

The paper shared 11.5 million documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The journalist in charge of the whole operation, Stefan Kornelius, tells Paul Moss how hundreds of journalists "kept quiet" about the biggest leak in history.  

The pirates that could benefit from an election in Iceland

Terry English dressed as a pirate walks in the crowd as people gather to attempt to reclaim the Guiness World Record for the most pirates in one place, on the promenade in Penzance, on May 26, 2014 in Cornwall
Getty Images
Not this sort of pirate... Iceland's Pirate Party don't actually dress as pirates.

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, who is coming under pressure to resign after his name emerged in the Panama Papers leak, has seen a request to dissolve parliament rebuffed.

The country's president says he must first speak to Mr Gunnlagusson's coalition partners before making such a decision.

If parliament is dissolved, one party in particular could stand to benefit - Iceland's Pirate Party.

A poll conducted only four days ago by Iceland's leading broadcaster showed that the party, that stands for civil rights and internet freedom, would take more votes than the two current coalition partners combined.

Cameron says he does not own any shares or offshore funds

rime Minister David Cameron holds a Q&A session on the forthcoming European Union referendum
Getty Images

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he does not own any shares or have any offshore funds, after his late father was included in a leaked list of clients using a law firm in the tax haven of Panama.

Mr Cameron's father has been reported to have run a network of offshore investment funds, and when asked on Monday to confirm that no family money was still invested in the funds, Mr Cameron's spokeswoman said it was a "private matter".

I own no shares. I have a salary as Prime Minister, and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house. I have no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that.

David Cameron

Argentinian president Macri linked to second offshore firm

Mauricio Macri
Getty Images

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri's office has confirmed he is linked to a second offshore firm registered by his father.

Mr Macri was vice-president and director, his father Franco was president and his brother Gianfranco was secretary of Kagemusha, which was registered in 1981.

"The society was created in 1981, but it was sold some years later," the government said.

France reinstates Panama to tax haven blacklist

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin
Getty Images

French finance minister Michel Sapin has said Panama will go back on France's blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions.

"Panama is a country that wanted us to believe that it could respect the main international tax principles and thus it was taken off the tax haven blacklist," he said.

Panama's authorities are conducting their own investigations into Mossack Fonseca's business practices.

BreakingIceland PM 'asks president to dissolve parliament'

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has asked President Olafur Grimsson to dissolve parliament, the Reuters news agency reports.

However, news agency AFP and Icelandic media say the president has so far declined.

Mr Grimsson said he had asked for talks with the main parties before making a decision.

You can read more about that here.

Panama piggy banks

piggy banks
Vox

This may well be our favourite Panama papers explainer so far, courtesy of Vox.com... 

Government hits back at Labour

A government spokesman hit back has hit back at Jeremy Corbyn's call for a crackdown on tax havens.

While Labour did next to nothing while in power, this government has raised billions of pounds by taking robust action to crackdown on tax avoidance in Britain - and the prime minister has spearheaded international action to improve tax transparency around the globe.

The government has pointed out that there were more than 40 changes to the tax law in the last parliament that closed loopholes and introduced major reforms. 

Those measures were forecast to raise more than £12bn by the end of this tax year.

A further 25 reforms are planned in this parliament to tackle avoidance, evasion and aggressive tax planning. 

Downing Street also claims it has brought in more than £2bn from offshore tax evaders since 2010. 

BreakingIceland's PM may call election

Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, said he would dissolve parliament and call an election if he did not win the backing of coalition partner the Independence Party to remain in office. 

Pressure has been mounting on Mr Gunnlaughsson to resign after leaked documents showed his wife owned an offshore company with big claims on Iceland's collapsed banks. He spent the morning in talks with finance minister and Independence Party leader Bjarni Benediktsson. 

The opposition filed a motion of no-confidence in the prime minister on Monday and thousands of protesters gathered outside parliament calling for him to quit. Another demonstration is planned for later on Tuesday. 

Corbyn calls for independent investigation

Jeremy Corbyn
EPA

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for an independent investigation into the tax affairs of all Britons linked to the Panama papers, including prime minister David Cameron's family.

"It's a private matter in so far as it's a privately held interest, but it's not a private matter if tax has not been paid. So an investigation must take place - an independent investigation," he said. 

Mr Corbyn called on the government to tackle tax havens, saying it was time the PM stopped allowing the "super-rich elite to dodge their taxes". 

Banking on Panama

Casper von Koskull
AP

HSBC and Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse set up more than 4,500 offshore companies through the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, Le Monde reports. HSBC created 2,300 offshore companies, Credit Suisse had 1,105 and UBS had 1,100, while France's Societe Generale had 979, according to the Panama papers. 

Some 365 banks had used the services of Mossack Fonseca, including Deutsche Bank and Sweden's Nordea, according to Le Monde. 

Nordea chief executive Casper von Koskull (pictured) said: "We will not cooperate with Mossack Fonseca any longer. Absolutely not. The bank should not be used as a platform for tax evasion." 

An attack on Russia?

BBC Monitoring

Several Russian commentators see the Panama leaks as an attack on their country. Andrei Sidorov of Moscow State University is quoted in the business daily Vedomosti as saying the leaks target not only President Vladimir Putin, but the entire country: "The main goal of this campaign is to rock the boat inside Russia and to change the regime."

According to the vice-president at the Centre for Political Technologies, Alexei Makarkin Moskovsky, the leaks will not have a noticeable impact on Russia. "The siege mentality effect is still very strong in Russia , and largely defines the public reaction to any external criticism."

Transparency International Chile chief quits

Money Box presenter Paul Lewis tweets:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

The Algerian response

BBC Monitoring

Abdesslam Bouchouareb
Getty Images

Most Algerian media outlets have highlighted the naming of the industry and mines minister, Abdesslam Bouchouareb (pictured), in the Panama papers.

The headline on El Watan's website says: "Panama Papers: Abdslam Bouchouareb owns an offshore company" and the article carries a cartoon depicting  the minister. The news website TSA says the revelations "gravely implicate" the minister.

The book "Paris-Algiers", published last year, says Mr Bouchouareb holds substantial property assets in France. The former business executive said in response to the book that he had lived in France for many years and had accumulated his wealth before being elected.

The Panama Papers are the latest in a long line of leaks that have had political repercussions across the globe
The Panama Papers are the latest in a long line of leaks that have had political repercussions across the globe.