Today in Panama Papers: Works of art, political backlash, bank CEO resigns

Fusion is one of two English-language U.S. partners who participated in a global investigation of the Panama Papers, leaked records from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian 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 of top news relating to the revelations.

Art world connection

Fine art has long been used as a way for the wealthy to park their money in physical assets, and it turns out Mossack Fonseca had a role in that too. An ICIJ investigation exposed the real owners of some high profile paintings, and this Fusion post explains where exactly Mossack Fonseca fits in the high-end art world.

Global political backlash continues

Political fallout from the Panama Papers continues to spread across the world with the following developments on Thursday:

Panama tries to be taken seriously

The Central American nation has been trying for years to shed its image as the place where secrets and money go to disappear. The sudden ubiquity of the “Panama” part of the Panama Papers is not helping. The country is taking further measures to try and improve transparency, with the BBC reporting the government is setting up an international panel of experts to advise it going forward.

First bank CEO resigns

Several international banks have found themselves under the microscope following the release of the Panama Papers, but Michael Grahammer of Austrian bank Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg is the first CEO to resign as a result. Grahammer said in a statement he believes the bank broke no laws, and that he was resigning because of the media’s inaccurate portrayal of the case.

Putin cries conspiracy

Surrogates of Russian President Vladimir Putin have been attacking the Panama Papers for a few days now, but Putin himself spoke out against them on Thursday. He said the leak was an attempt by the U.S. to destabilize Russia and defended close friend Sergei P. Roldugin, who was found to be the owner of several off-shore companies linked to suspicious activities.

“Almost all the money he earned he spent on musical instruments that he bought abroad,” Putin said about Roldugin, who is a cellist.

Sanders pins connection on Clinton

Earlier this week, we posted a video showing presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was ahead of the game in pointing out the problems in Panama’s finance laws. Sanders is cashing in on that now to criticize rival candidate Hillary Clinton for supporting the Panama Free Trade Agreement, which he opposed, saying the support meant she was not qualified to be president. Clinton’s response to Sanders comments focused more on the “qualified” part, rather than the “Panama” part.