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Panama Papers summary: the financial secrets of the global elite

A cache of more than 11 million secret documents has cast a light on the financial dealings of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people.

Obtained by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, 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.

The transactions in themselves may be legal, but the complex net of shadowy dealings, creates an environment where illegal actions can be easily concealed.

Euronews has summarised some of the main claims in the documents, which we have not seen or verified.

The files include information on 140 politicians from 50 countries including heads of state in Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Qatar, the UAE, Ukraine, and Iraq.

See the full list at The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Close friends of Vladimir Putin have amassed vast, but secret fortunes. Sergei Roldugin, a cellist who is godfather to Putin’s daughter Maria controls a series of assests including stakes in a a bank, an advertising agency and other companies.

A company part-owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, another close associate of Putin, received large loans from a state-controlled bank. The company, Ozon, hosted the wedding of Putin’s daughter Katerina.

This transaction was one of a series conducted by a mysterious offshore entity called Sandalwood, may of which appear to have benefited allies of Putin.

Read more on the Guardian

The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko created an offshore company that could have allowed him to avoid taxes on his confectionary business Roshen.

He did not declare the new company on his tax forms. The Ukrainian constitution bans presidents from being involved in business dealings while in power.

Read more at The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson held millions of dollars in investments in an offshore company. The investments included large stakes in banks which collapsed during the financial crisis and whose fortunes since have been closely tied to government policy.

Gunnlaugsson walked out of an interview when questioned about the issue.

Read more on the BBC

The documents reveal links between football administrators and businessmen accused of corruption and a member of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, responsible for investigating mismanagement at the highest levels of the sport.

Juan Pedro Damiani and his law form did work for companies linked to former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo, charged in the US with fraud and money laundering, as well as Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, accused of paying bribes in return for football broadcasting rights.

Read more at Süddeutsche Zeitung

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.

Read more at Fusion

Michel Platini, former president of European Football’s governing body UEFA, currently suspended amid corruption investigations, also held an offshore account, the documents reveal.

Read more on Le Monde (in French)

The brother-in-law of China’s president Xi Jinping and family members of other senior officials in the country are included in the documents as having set up offshore companies.

Read more on the International Business Times

Actor Jackie Chan and footballer Lionel Messi are also named among the clients of the law firm.

The proceeds of one of Britain’s most infamous robberies, a theft of gold bars from Brink’s-Mat depot in London, may also have passed through offshore companies established by Mossack Fonseca.

The tax authorities in Australia are now investigating 800 individuals over arrangements including the files.

Read more on the Australian Financial Review

You can read the response from Mossack Fonseca here

You can find out more about what the documents actually are on the Süddeutsche Zeitung site

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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