Today in the Panama Papers: Iceland PM resigns, China blocks news, Obama weighs in

Over the weekend, Fusion participated in an ICIJ investigation into a leak of records from Panamanian company Mossack Fonseca, a law firm that helped powerful clients across the world hide money in offshore companies. Every day this week, Fusion will run a daily round-up linking to the top news relating to the revelations.

Iceland’s PM resigns

The Panama Papers claimed their first victim on Tuesday as Icelandic Prime Mininster Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resigned from office. Gunnlaugsson maintains he did nothing wrong and the company Mossack Fonseca created for him was entirely legal, but the news of its existence triggered massive protests in Reykjavik, including one in which Icelandic yogurt was thrown at a parliament building.

China censors papers

As far as the Chinese internet is concerned, the Panama Papers don’t exist—the country’s censors have blocked news articles related to the leaks from being accessed from mainland China. Not too surprising, considering there were several links to high-ranking Chinese officials in the leak, including the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Celebrities stash away money, too

Soccer star Lionel Messi and actor Jackie Chan are a few of the celebrities whose names have since been found in the Panama Papers. Chan had at least six offshore companies, while Messi used a Panamanian company to handle money earned from his image rights contracts. Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan also was listed as the director of several companies, but he denied it and said his name was “misused.”

Panama felt the Bern five years ago

Turns out Bernie Sanders was ahead of the game on criticizing Panama. A 2011 Senate floor speech took the country to task for helping wealthy Americans and corporations avoid taxes. Not many Americans were found in the Mossack Fonseca leak, but there are reasons for that.

Offshore finance for dummies

A Reddit post in the “Explain it Like I’m Five” subreddit gives the forum’s trademark spin on explaining the Panama Papers revelations. It starts with a piggy bank and ends with secrets. Vox produced an animated version of the explainer:

Obama weighs in

U.S. President Barack Obama used the occasion to call for international tax reform, pointing out that many of the global tax avoidance practices used were actually legal. He called the revelations “important stuff” in comments to White House reporters.

Banks deny wrongdoing

Two of the world’s largest banks, HSBC and Credit Suisse, both denied that they used offshore shell companies to help clients avoid taxes. Both institutions were mentioned in the papers as helping to set up such structures for their clients.


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