Panama Papers implicate some of Spain's most influential figures

2016-04-15 08:00:00

It’s the biggest release of private documentation since the WikiLeaks episode of 2010. With just under 11.5 million records being leaked from Mossak Fonseca, a high profile offshore law firm based in Panama, some of the planet’s most prominent and influential figures have been left to answer uncomfortable questions regarding the nature of their financial dealings with offshore companies.
In a list which includes twelve world leaders and 143 politicians, the sister of King Juan Carlos of Spain, Pilar de Borbón, and Oscar-winning film director Pedro Almodóvar, have been forced to deny allegations of wrongdoing this week. Meanwhile, the exposure of private documents to the public has led to the resignation of the Icelandic prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, after there were calls for him to step down.
The records of the Panama-based company were first leaked to German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source in August 2015. The files were later passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who shared the documents with a string of international publications, including La Sexta (Spain) and the BBC. The details of these files were only made known to the public on Sunday.
Although offshore structures have in the past been used as a loophole for the wealthy, the leaks have raised questions surrounding the credibility of the company and its activities. Earlier this week, SUR revealed that the Panama-based firm had been investigated by the Spanish Tax Office five years ago as part of the ‘Gürtel’ corruption case.
Spanish royalty
In Spain, royalty has appeared among the names linked to the Panama Papers after it was revealed that the sister of King Juan Carlos I, Pilar de Borbón, had been a client of Mossak Fonseca up until 2014. The documents report that the Infanta became president and director of the Panama-registered company Delantera Financiera SA in August 1974. Since the files were released, the Infanta has confirmed her involvement in the business but has denied allegations of misconduct, claiming that the company had never been “outside the control of the taxation authorities”.
Besides the royal family, Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar was forced to suspend a question and answer session on the release of his latest film, ‘Julieta’, in light of being named in the documents. Elsewhere, figures from the footballing world have also been affected such as Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and newly elected FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, both linked to offshore companies.
International figures
In the UK, David Cameron has come under fire from the media and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn following the news that the prime minister’s father, Ian Cameron, had worked with the Panama-based law firm. It was revealed that Cameron’s father had helped to set up Panama-based company Blairmore Holdings Inc in 1982, a company that his son admitted to benefiting from on Thursday.
Cameron’s Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin has also been embroiled in the scandal. Although Putin’s name does not directly feature in any of the documents leaked from the Mossak Fonseca database, many of the politician’s closest friends and known associates have been discovered in the papers.
Since the leak, Mossak Fonseca has released a statement on its official website defending its practice.
“Recent media reports have portrayed an inaccurate view of the services that we provide [and have] misrepresented the nature of our work and its role in global financial markets,” the company declared, adding that its “business is regulated by several different oversight and enforcement agencies”.source surinenglish