A massive leak of millions of documents has revealed that heads of state, criminals and celebrities conduct and sometimes conceal their business activities in tax havens. The leak exposes holdings in shadowy companies that are owned by 11 past and present heads of state, and reveals how partners of Russian President Vladimir Putin clandestinely transferred no less than $2 billion through banks and companies registered in tax shelters.
The source of the leaked documents is a very powerful yet not very well-known law firm called Mossack Fonseca. This firm has branches in Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and more than 35 other locations around the world, among them Israel. The documents reveal many Israeli connections and disclose that businesspeople with Israeli citizenship as well as Israeli banks and companies have used the law firm to register companies in tax havens around the world.
The documents expose, among other things, firms controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan registered in tax havens. They refer to at least 33 companies and individuals that have been on a United States government blacklist for having connections with Mexican drug lords, terror organizations like Hezbollah and rogue states like North Korea and Iran. One of the companies exposed in the leaked documents provided fuel for the aircraft used by the Syrian government to bomb and kill thousands of its citizens.
Among the revelations are secret manipulations by banks, companies and individuals connected to Vladimir Putin. The documents name companies registered in tax havens that have links to the Russian president and his network, and have carried out money transfers of as much as $200 million at a time. Putin’s associates disguised payments, backdated documents and accumulated influence behind the scenes at media companies and in automobile industries.