World Bulletin / News Desk
The co-founder of the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal says the fallout has set off a "thriving" boom in the creation of tax shelters in the United States.
Juergen Mossack, who partnered with Ramon Fonseca to create the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, said in a document obtained Thursday by AFP that after the Panama Papers leak a year ago, the number of new tax shelters created has fallen by 30 percent in Panama and elsewhere.
"Whilst Panama tries hard to be whiter than white, others are profiting," he wrote.
The Panama Papers, published a year ago in a leak of more than 11 million documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca, spurred fresh government action against the secretive world of tax fraud and evasion.
Before the scandal exposed the global extent of offshore tax havens, Panama was the last major financial center refusing all exchange of banking information.
But since then, Panama has adopted new legislation and signed up to the international fight against tax fraud, with all the transparency required.
Law firms in Panama have been required to undertake due diligence -- to know their clients and the final beneficiaries of the companies they create -- since 2015.
Mossack said US jurisdictions have "zero transparency" and that is why, after the scandal, there has been an increase in clients creating tax shelters in the US who previously would have gone to Panama.
According to the Panamanian economy ministry, the creation of offshore companies fell 27 percent in 2016 from the prior year.
No one has been arrested in the Panama Papers leaks scandal. In this Central American country, tax evasion is not a crime.
But Mossack and Fonseca have been placed in provisional detention on money-laundering charges as part of a sprawling Brazilian corruption probe dubbed "Operation Car Wash."
Mossack's letter, written from detention, was dated April 10.
Panama's chief prosecutor, Kenia Porcell, said his office was cooperating with European countries investigating tax fraud revealed in the Panama Papers.
The Panama Papers linked some of the world's most powerful leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, former British prime minister David Cameron and others to unreported offshore companies.
Mossack said more than 98 percent of his firm's clients were not Panamanian nationals and that 85 percent of the companies noted in the Panama Papers were set up to comply with other jurisdictions.
According to him, "less than one percent of all the companies incorporated" by Mossack Fonseca could have "a possible wrongful use."
If some of the companies set up by Mossack Fonseca were used by their owners to try to cheat on their taxes "we would not have been aware of that, since no client in his right mind would tell people he has never met that he would use the company for an illegal purpose," he said.
"Such a disclosure would automatically disqualify him from being accepted as a client."
In a bruising contest against pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron, Le Pen is hoping to broaden her base wide enough to win the decisive second-round election, despite polls suggesting she is 20 points behind.
The 27 leaders quickly agreed on the negotiating guidelines as they met without Britain for the first time since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the divorce process a month ago.
Abe met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, assuring her that he "continued to trust the UK economy after separation from the European Union," he told a press conference in London on Saturday.
Orban was summoned to a meeting with top officials from the European People's Party (EPP) over the law that could force the closure of a Budapest university founded by US billionaire George Soros.
"There will inevitably be a price and a cost for Britain, it's the choice they made," Hollande said as he arrived at a Brussels summit.
Turkish General Staff says more than 90 terrorists also injured in operations in northern Iraq, northeastern Syria
Opponents started rallying on April 1 against moves to strengthen his hold on power, hoping they would be a tipping point in the economic and political crisis.
"We need to remain united as the EU 27. It is only then that we will be able to conclude the negotiations, which means that our unity is also in the UK's interest," Tusk told reporters.
Since Jammeh's fall, dozens of migrants who had left to go to Europe via Libya have started coming back
Facebook and Google confirm they were victims of Lithuanian man’s years-long swindle
105,000 get between $5,100-$8,000 in emissions scandal
Two men accused of trying to establish cell of Somalia-based terror group in Ethiopia
Order comes as part of Trump's efforts to fulfill his promise to 'unleash American energy'
Federica Mogherini has said that the EU has left the door ajar for Turkey membership
Cuba has restarted their news agency in the US capital