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Who was mentioned in the Panama Papers and who wasn’t – a revelation in itself

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For many years, the wealthy and the mighty of the world have kept their financial secrets in the idyllic shade of tax havens.  Everything changed in April of 2016, with the publication of the Panama Papers, which leaked information from 11.5 million documents stolen from the Mossack Fonseca law firm.

Some 130,000 people in 170 countries were left anxious after detailed financial and attorney-client information from offshore entities began to appear in the press, some dating back to the 1970s. Among the affected were 20 Forbes List billionaires, Hollywood stars, famous sports figures, 150 politicians, and a dozen national leaders.

Some were lucky to be missed by the media barrage that followed. Others were hit by a ricochet, and some had their careers and reputations killed outright. Here is just a sampling of some of the notable people caught in the crossfire:
  1. David Gunnlaugsson Sigmundur – Iceland’s prime minister became the object of mass demonstrations when it was revealed that his wife secretly owned offshore companies. He resigned shortly thereafter.
  2. David Cameron – Britain’s PM also came under fire after a Guardian article revealed that his late father had founded several offshore companies and distributed shares among the family. Cameron claimed he had sold his before becoming  prime minister and remained in office 
  3. Anatoly Karpov – The renowned Russian Grand Chess Master  and State Duma member was about to open a chess school in Sochi on May 10, 2016 when he was informed that a Daily Telegraph article had named him as the director of a Cypriot company. Under Russian law, State Duma members can’t own a business. Karpov was eventually exonerated, although his reputation was tarnished.
  4. Jarno Trulli – The Formula 1 driver first thought it was a prank when journalists began to hound him, saying his name had appeared in the Panama Papers. The Italian government later confirmed that he was in compliance with all laws.
  5. Lady Heather Mills – Paul McCartney’s ex-wife was also shocked when she became a Panama Papers star. She was also found innocent after an investigation.

Other famous people mentioned in the archives include actors Jackie Chan and Emma Watson, film director Pedro Almodovar, ex-UEFA President Michel Platini, drug lord Caro Quintero, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian President  Petro Poroshenko, and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri.

The names of Kojo Annan, the son of former UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan; Li Xiaolin, daughter of former Chinese Premier Li Peng; Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, relatives of Hosni Mubarak; and three of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children also appear in the Panama Papers.

Perhaps even more interesting than the names of the people that did appear in the files, are the names of those who are not mentioned. Namely:

  1. Prominent Americans.
  2. Vladimir Putin – The Russian president’s name was mentioned 19 times in an article on the Panama Papers by the UK’s Daily Mail. A Guardian article on the scandal refers to him 33 times, and a BBC piece on the subject even featured his name in its headline – so it might be surprising to learn that the Russian president’s name was nowhere to be found in the leaked documents.
  3.  Xi Jinping – The Chinese president’s photograph appeared on the front pages of both American and European media reports on the Panama Papers for several months – although his name is not mentioned in the leaked documents even once.
  4. Bashar Assad – Syria’s president does not appear in the files either, but the mention of his cousin Rami Makhlouf was apparently enough for a leading German paper to publish a shocking article accusing Assad of using offshore shell companies.

After the months of intense scrutiny in the media firestorm that followed the release of the Panama Papers, the names of the most notable people exposed are already well known. What is yet to be revealed is just who stole the documents in the first place – and what motivated them to do so.

To explore the possibilities with some of the world’s leading experts, watch The Panama Papers  on RTD Documentaries.