This weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – which includes Fusion, the BBC, and ABC Color – began releasing the massive collection of 11.5 million files that ties the world’s rich and powerful to tax fraud. Collectively known as the Panama Papers, the documents connect politicians, athletes, and celebrities to Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca – an offshore firm that helps the rich hide their paper for tax purposes. ICIJ best described it as playing “hide and seek with millions.”
“This is pretty much every document from this firm over a 40-year period,” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle told Wired, adding that it’s “about 2,000 times larger than the WikiLeaks state department cables.”
ICIJ points out that there are “legitimate uses” for offshore companies and that they aren’t trying to suggest that those named broke the law. However, according to The Atlantic, the firm seemingly aided in tax evasion and money laundering while their clients avoided any punishments. And the offshore accounts go further than just tax evasion. The ICIJ released a video explaining how the services made it possible to provide fuel to the Syrian air force.
Among those tied to Mossack Fonseca is FIFA, making the leak another blow to the entity’s image. The company has struggled to fight off perceptions of corruption, mainly because it’s very corrupt.
Now, Juan Pedro Damian, a member of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee who took part in Josep Blatter’s suspension, is bringing attention to the group once again. He is named along with Eugenio Figueredo, a former FIFA VP whose arrest the US authorities ordered in the May 27 raids in Zurich. Though Damian’s name popped up in the Panama Papers, the committee denies any involvement or previous knowledge.
As of now, the ICIJ has named 140 people, but there are still more to come. Here’s a look at some of the Latin Americans named so far:
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect new information.
“The world’s best soccer player, Lionel Messi, is also found in the documents. The records show Messi and his father were owners of a Panama company: Mega Star Enterprises Inc. This adds a new name to the list of shell companies known to be linked to Messi. His offshore dealings are currently the target of a tax evasion case in Spain,” the ICIJ reported.
His team has responded.
Daddy Yankee’s team denies that the artist is connected to Mossack Fonseca. “We deny any link to our client with this journalistic investigation,” said lawyer Edwin Prado in a press release. “It is false that we have a direct or indirect relationship with the firm Mossack Foseca.”
Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina
Daniel Muñoz, Aide to Argentine presidents Kirchner
Néstor Grindetti, Mayor of Lanus, Argentina
João Lyra, Former Member of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies
Alfredo Ovalle Rodríguez, Former President of the Chilean Confederation of Production and Commerce
Carlos Gutiérrez Robayo, Brother-in-law of Former mayor of Bogota Gustavo Petro
Pedro Delgado, Former Governor of Ecuador's Central Bank
Galo Chiriboga, Ecuador’s Attorney General
Javier Molina Bonilla, Former advisor to Ecuador's Intelligence Agency
César Rosenthal, Son of Former Vice President of Honduras Jaime Rosenthal
Juan Armando Hinojosa, EPN's "favorite contractor"
Riccardo Francolini, Former Chairman of state-run bank Caja de Ahorros
César Almeyda, Former Head of Peru’s National Intelligence Council
Jesús Villanueva, Former Director of PdVSA
Víctor Cruz Weffer, Venezuela’s Former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa and his ex-wife, Patricia, showed up in the Panama Papers as well. According to Fox News Latino, for a month the former couple appeared as shareholders for an offshore British Virgin Islands company. However, someone on MVL’s team asked lawyers to remove him and his wife on October 6, 2010 – a day before he won the Nobel Prize.
Vargas Llosa’s literary agent said the writer and Patricia never dealt with Mossack Fonseca, and that MVL has followed tax regulations everywhere.