As we reported earlier this week, it was revealed by the Panama Papers that the law firm Mossack Fonseca sometimes used the name of the International Red Cross as a beneficiary of its shell companies in order to lend them prestige. Now the Red Cross has responded.
Although these arrangements were made completely unbeknownst to the Red Cross, the records pose a very serious reputational threat to the international non-profit, as well as a real physical threat to its staff. The ICRC spokesperson Claire Kaplun expressed these concerns very well in her interview with the Associated Press:
“We work in conflict zones. We work without weapons. Our protection is our name, our emblem, the faith that people have in our reputation. Let’s say this money was linked to a warring party in a conflict. Imagine what consequences that could have.”
British journalist Shaun Walker traveled three hours out of Moscow to the town of Kimry to find out why most Russians just don't care whether President Vladimir Putin is corrupt or not.
Outside the liberal online bubble of the politically active, most Russians who have heard about the Panama disclosures remain unmoved by them. When TV Rain, an independent channel, questioned Muscovites in the city’s White Square business district, many said it was quite normal for people to help out their friends, and that they didn’t see anything wrong with the president keeping some money to one side.
In Kimry, people are not so much approving as resigned to the idea. “Look, I don’t know what the point of making all these accusations and stirring up trouble is,” said Yaroslav, a 42-year-old factory worker. “So what if Putin is corrupt? There are two types of rulers: good corrupt rulers and bad corrupt rulers. At least Putin is trying to do good for the country.”
Russian investigative journalist Yulia Latynina has been thinking about the Panama Papers and the revelations about President Vladimir Putin's cellist friend, Sergei Roldugin. She notices that the transfer of funds to Roldugin came from Dagestani billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. The Jamestown Foundation has this English account of Latynina's reporting.
Roldugin has been a long-time friend of Putin. And Kerimov only transferred money to Roldugin during the period when he was politically in need. Not before. Not after. So how does a transfer of money to Roldugin buy Kerimov a favor in a time of need? Latynina notes that the relationship between power and money in Russia is at once inseparable and indirect. Therefore, she speculates, no one should believe that the $2 billion that Roldugin is in control of is entirely at his disposal. Of course, being close to Putin has financial benefits. But this money, naturally, is a supply of funds that would be available to Putin should he wish to access it.
How international aid flows into Africa and illegal capital flows out:
New European Union rules on tax transparency will hit some major multinational companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
"While our proposal on [country-by-country reporting] is not of course focused principally on the response to the Panama Papers, there is an important connection between our continuing work on tax transparency and tax havens that we are building into the proposal.”
The government in Malta is expected to face a no-confidence vote as pressure mounts against it over revelations in the Panama Papers. The latest revelations cast doubt on the explanations of the government officials named in the documents.
Mr Schembri earlier this week lashed out at reports by the Financial Review, which he said were "absolutely baseless".
He said his Panama company, Tillgate Inc was "intended solely for estate planning".
Mr Mizzi said in a public statement last week that his New Zealand trust was set up for family reasons, and that he had told the prime minister of his intention to have a bank account to receive rent payments on his London property.
The Mossack Fonseca documents show a more diverse investment strategy.
The secrets of the Panama Papers were once guarded only by a thin layer of "glitter nail polish (color unknown)."
Russia's controversial nationalist culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky says there is nothing in the Panama Papers that would "destroy Russia." Medinsky made the comments while in London to promote the U.K.-Russia Year of Language and Literature.
Medinsky said: "I believe that they [the Panama Papers] have discredited the UK, Iceland and Ukraine in more ways than Russia. I haven't read anything that would destroy Russia. As for me, personally I found nothing new in this investigation," he said.
The Panama Papers allege Roldugin was earning £6.5m a year, had £19m in cash from a stake in the advertising agency Video International, and a separate investment worth £100m. The cellist denies any wrongdoing and told Russian TV the money came from donations to purchase expensive musical instruments for young Russians.
Medinsky said: "I think that the Russians have had enough of it, because there is a lot of talk of trillions of dollars but all they found was a cellist. He is a man who dedicated his whole life to art and he is definitely the most famous cellist in the world now.
"Such an excess of attention drawn to him puts him in an awkward position. It (offshore trusts) are not a problem of Russia, it is a problem of all countries, who have offshore territories. I have seen none in [the far eastern Russian island territory] Kamchatka."
Famed U.S. journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, has been speaking out a bit on the Panama Papers, which he says is a triumph of journalism. Here is his interview with the BBC.
And here is an interview with Slate.
I think the Panama Papers are a great story, and I think it’s astonishing they kept it secret for so long. There are so many dimensions to it. They’re still working on it. Last week I did an interview with the BBC. Radio interview. Also on the show was the guy who heads the journalism collective in Washington that’s done this.
We were going through and the BBC interviewer was saying to him, “So, what new revelations do you have? What’s new? Give us something hot,” and he kept driving at this. I finally said to the interviewer, “You know, here you are. It’s the BBC, this distinguished broadcast operation, and you’ve got internet-itis. You want to know what’s the latest, what’s next, and here’s somebody’s group of people who have done some of the most serious journalism of the era, and they’ve explained, ‘We’re not going to be able to tell you everything, we’ve got to draw the connections, these are, what, 11 million pages?’ ” Have you ever read 11 million pages of anything?