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Live Blog: The Panama Papers

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"Putin. Offshore, Impeachment." -- A lone protester holds up a sign in Moscow protesting over the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen to have been implicated in murky financial dealings revealed in the Panama Papers

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Final Summary for April 13

-- The Russian cellist linked by the Panama Papers to murky offshore finances says the money came from donations.

-- German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has outlined details of a plan to combat tax havens in the wake of the Panama leaks.

-- British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce that new legislation making companies criminally liable if employees aid tax evasion will be introduced this year

-- -- Cameron had earlier published his tax records in an attempt to draw a line under questions about his personal finances raised by the mention of his late father in the Panama Papers for setting up an offshore fund.

-- The unauthorized use of the International Red Cross's name by entities listed in the Panama Papers poses "enormous" risks for its operations and staff, the head of the humanitarian body said.

-- Several thousand people filled a big square in Malta's capital on April 10 and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat after the leaked Panama Papers said two of his political allies had offshore accounts.

-- Police have raided the El Salvador offices of the Panama-based law firm at the heart of the "Panama Papers" scandal that has revealed how the wealthy in many countries stashed their riches offshore.

09:09 13.4.2016

Tax officials from 28 countries will gather in Paris on April 13 to discuss what to do in the face of the Panama Papers revelations and to discuss "a global approach" to tax information.

Senior officials from tax authorities around the world have said they intend to work together to analyse information revealed by the documents, which have provoked international concern over the offshore industry.

Investigations have been launched in a number of countries over the past week, but the Paris meeting will be an attempt to develop a global strategy to crack down on offenders.

The sheer scale of the leak – 11.5m documents, covering 210,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions – has led to Wednesday’s hastily arranged meeting.

The aggressive new approach is being led by the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (Jitsic) network, of which the UK is a leading member.

09:05 13.4.2016

U.S. financial whistle-blower Bradley Birkenfeld, who revealed massive tax evasion by U.S. firms and citizens while working at UBS bank in Switzerland, says he is "sure" the CIA is behind the Mossack Fonseca leak.

Birkenfeld pointed to the fact that the political uproar created by the disclosures have mainly impacted countries with tense relationships with the United States. "The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, Argentina and we don't see one U.S. name. Why is that?" Birkenfeld said. "Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation."

As for Birkenfeld himself, his story is worth recounting a bit:

Birkenfeld, an American citizen, was a banker working at UBS in Switzerland when he approached the U.S. government with information on massive amounts of tax evasion by Americans with secret accounts in Switzerland. By the end of his whistleblowing career, Birkenfeld had served more than two years in a U.S. federal prison, been awarded $104 million by the IRS for his information and shattered the foundations of more than a century of Swiss banking secrecy.

08:56 13.4.2016

An official in Sri Lanka has become the latest victim of the Panama Papers revelations.

Amarapala was the chairman of the CEB between 2010 and 2011. He also served as an executive at the IWS Holdings Ltd. owned by Arthur Senanayaka between 2003 to 2010.

He has maintained this particular account while serving as a Director of the Sovereign Capital Corporation (SCC) belonging to Senanayaka, and that company had not been charged for wrong-doing up to now after being named in the 2013 list, the statement said.

“Amarapala has decided to keep away from all his responsibilities and functions of this ministry and to tender his resignation papers to Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka with the hope that it will be easier if the Ministry decides to conduct any investigation into the issue.”

08:50 13.4.2016

Activists in Australia say their country's laws on money laundering and other financial manipulations are "less stringent" than those in Panama.

Uniting Church director Mark Zirnsak, a member of the secretariat for the Australian arm of the International Tax Justice Network, called on Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer to commit to better protection for whistleblowers.

As The Australian Financial Review revealed in February, the Turnbull government is looking at extending whistleblower law to specifically protect – and possibly reward – those who inform on multinationals cheating on their tax bills.

"In light of the Panama papers, the government should be following through on these commitments previously made, not dragging the chain on them," Mr Zirnsak said.

08:48 13.4.2016
Kezerashvili in France in 2014 after successfully fighting a Georgian extradition bid
Kezerashvili in France in 2014 after successfully fighting a Georgian extradition bid

The Panama Papers revelations have reached Davit Kezerashvili, who was Georgia's defense minister during the 2008 war with Russia.

The Swiss newspaper Tribune De Geneve wrote that in 2006 when Kezerashvili was appointed minister, he owned only one flat. But his assets were soon to grow after he resigned in December 2008, a few months after the war with Russia.

Tribune De Geneve reported that ten days after Kezerashvili’s resignation, ten of his trustees founded three offshore companies. Millions obtained from oil sales was transferred to bank accounts. According to the Panama Papers, an account was opened for one of those companies in Swiss Bank BCGE. 20 million Swiss francs (nearly USD 21 million) was transferred to this account. A further 25 million was transferred the same way to the banks ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas.

The Swiss newspaper also writes that in the beginning of 2013, an investigation was launched against Kezerashvili for corruption. In May-June of the same year, a trustee of Kezerashvili contacted the Panamanian legal services company Mossack Fonseca to register documents and back date them. Later, before the start of the trial, Kezerashvili transferred his assets to the two other offshore companies.

08:10 13.4.2016

Good morning! RFE/RL resumes its Live Blog of the Panama Papers with this story out of Panama itself. Police there have raided the headquarters of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that was the source of the leaks. Police say the raid was carried out "without incident or interference."

Police carried out Tuesday's raid along with officials from an organised crime unit. Officers set up a perimeter around the headquarters while prosecutors entered the offices to search for documents.

Afterwards, the attorney general's office said the aim had been "to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities".

The statement added that searches would also take place at subsidiaries of the firm.

13:04 12.4.2016

Oxfam on the link between the Panama Papers revelations and global poverty:

12:59 12.4.2016

12:52 12.4.2016
Boris Nemtsov holds Sergei Magnitsky portrait during a protest in Moscow in 2012
Boris Nemtsov holds Sergei Magnitsky portrait during a protest in Moscow in 2012

The Daily Beast has found that the Swiss law firm that "played an integral role in the transfer of some $2 billion from a close circle of friends and associates of Vladimir Putin" has long-standing ties with the so-called Klyuev group -- which has been described as a "dangerous transnational criminal organization."

Members of the Klyuev Group have been sanctioned by the U.S. government under a law named for its most high-profile victim: Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. In 2007 and 2008, Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million tax fraud allegedly perpetrated by ex-convictDmitry Klyuev and his confederates, which included state tax officials and Interior Ministry investigators. Magnitsky was then framed by the very men he exposed; he was beaten to death in a Moscow prison hospital in 2009.

Documents seen by The Daily Beast show that on April 13, 2011, Altem Invest Ltd., a Cyprus-registered company controlled by Dmitry Klyuev, transferred $4,499 into a Swiss bank account belonging to Dietrich, Baumgartner & Partner. The law firm has also represented Vladlen Stepanov in a money laundering case opened in 2011 by the Swiss attorney general in relation to the Magnitsky affair. Stepanov, said to be a member of the Klyuev Group, is the ex-husband of Olga Stepanova, who formerly headed Moscow Tax Office No. 28, which processed part of the fraudulent $230 million refund.

12:46 12.4.2016

Newsweek has this rundown of the African politicians who figure in the Panama Papers stories.

Koji Annan, the son of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who allegedly used an offshore company incorporated in the Pacific island of Niue to buy a $500,000 central London apartment. A lawyer for Annan said that his companies “operate in accordance with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdictions” and paid whatever taxes they were liable to.

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