Leaked Mossack Fonseca documents exposed the millionaire offspring of European and African officials, illicit campaign funding in Latin America, and more.
From the millionaire offspring of European and African officials to illicit campaign funding in Latin America, a second leak of documents from Mossack Fonseca this year exposed more details about the world’s rich, famous and nefarious.
The 1.2 million new emails, passport copies and bank statements, most of which are dated after the first Panama Papers investigation of April 2016, provided new chapters in known cases of bribery, corruption, tax avoidance and secretive deals.
In addition, hundreds of journalists around the world exposed previously unreported transactions and companies secretly tied to politicians, high-level government officials and members of their families.
Here are some of our partners’ top findings from the new material:
In Latvia, the nonprofit investigative news organization Re:Baltica revealed details of a $10 million trust owned by the daughter of an influential Latvian politician.
Liga Lemberga is the daughter of Aivars Lembergs, one of Latvia’s wealthiest men and mayor of a seaside town that has long been a major European transit route for Russian oil.
Her father has been indicted on corruption and financial crimes charges, and the court case is underway, Re:Baltica reported. Lembergs denies wrongdoing.
Cerise Trust Savings, one of the offshore vehicles owned by Lemberga and revealed in the newly-leaked Panama Papers documents, is briefly mentioned in the criminal case against Lembergs, Re:Baltica reported.
Neither Lemberga nor Lembergs responded before publication to Re:Baltica’s questions about how she came to control a $10 million trust.
Lembergs emailed Re:Baltica after publication that his children live independently and are now in their 40s. He did not respond to Re:Baltica’s questions about the trust, which was established in 1992, and whether the trust’s assets were linked to Lembergs’ work in government.
Latvian police at the Economic Crimes Prevention Office have since opened an inquiry into the companies and transactions.
The additional documents from inside Mossack Fonseca also revealed the offshore activities of the son of Algeria’s state oil company chief.
Nacim Ould Kaddour, son of Sonatrach CEO Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, set up companies to transfer millions of dollars through offshore companies in the Seychelles, ICIJ member Lyas Hallas reported.
The younger Kaddour was a little-known entrepreneur until his father took control of Algeria’s vast oil wealth in 2017. Certain pro-government media now portray the son as an oil industry titan, Hallas reported.
In documents from the Panama Papers, the younger Kaddour is copied on dozens of emails from lawyers in Beirut to Mossack Fonseca that discuss companies in the Seychelles and bank accounts in Lebanon.
One of the companies cited in the emails was Synergex Group S.A., created in 2012. Synergex Group was a “consultant” dealing with Algerian and Chinese oil, according to emails.
A second company connected to Synergex through the same Lebanese law firm was Farahead Equipment Energy Ltd. In one document sent to Mossack Fonseca, the company reported that it would receive $12 million to $15 million each year from oil sales.
For a time, the law firm told the offshore company that it would have trouble finding a bank account willing to take its “sensitive” business, in part because “Algeria as the major location of…business is also a high risk country.”
Although the company’s documentation for its multimillion-dollar activity said it primarily worked in Algeria, Hallas found no trace of the company in Algeria’s company registry.
Nacim Ould Kaddour did not respond to Hallas’ questions.
Colombian news organization Connectas reported on the mechanics behind a Panama company that helped pay for election campaign advertising for Colombian president Manuel Santos.
Previous news reports disclosed that the owner of the Panama company Impressa Group Corp., former vice-minister of tourism and entrepreneur María Fernanda Valencia, was summoned to appear before government investigators in 2017 to explain a $400,000 payment made to Santos’ 2010 presidential bid.
The payment, made through Impressa Group Corp. by the Brazilian multinational Odebrecht, was probed as part of a wide-ranging investigation into bribes paid by the company to politicians and government officials across Latin America. Valencia denied the payment to her Panama company was a bribe.
Santos’ former campaign manager, Roberto Prieto, later admitted that the campaign never recorded the $400,000 that it used to buy two million campaign posters, Connectas reported. The former campaign manager has since been charged with corruption.
The new Panama Papers files revealed that Impressa Group Corp., was created in 2010 just 12 days before the second and final round of Colombia’s presidential election that saw Santos elected to power. The request to create the company was “urgent,” according to emails sent to Mossack Fonseca.
Connectas reported that the Panama Papers documents show that once the company was set up and the posters paid for, the relationship with Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that created it, turned sour. “We have called more than 10 times, we have left messages, we have sent mails and he does not take us seriously,” a Mossack Fonseca employee complained in an email about the intermediary acting for the Impressa Group Corp.
Botswana’s INK Centre for Investigative Journalism reported that the deputy head of the country’s foreign investment agency directed a company that helped wealthy Africans move money offshore.
Christopher Garland was the director of a company established in the Seychelles, Dölberg Wealth International Ltd., according to documents, as well as deputy director for the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).
The leaked records show how BITC intervened when Mossack Fonseca considered closing Dölberg Wealth International Ltd after learning that Garland worked at a government agency.
The Botswana foreign investment agency argued that Garland should not be considered as connected to politics because BITC was solely formed for promoting investment and exports, according to a letter written by BITC’s board secretary that was uncovered in the Panama Papers.
INK reported that Garland’s company Dölberg helped set up another company in the tax haven Seychelles. The company would be owned by layers of trusts and would hold money made from imports and exports to and from South Africa, according to documents.
“Ironically, Garland’s interest in companies that assist wealthy people to invest in offshore tax havens may have undermined the principles for which BITC was formed, which is to attract much-needed foreign investment,” INK reported.
Garland told INK that he did not have direct ties with Mossack Fonseca and that BITC always knew about his relationship with Dölberg.
In the first collaboration between ICIJ and a Luxembourg media organization, the newspaper Woxx revealed that an offshore company is owned by Luxembourg member of parliament Roy Reding.
Reding is a high-profile lawyer and has sat in Luxembourg’s parliament since 2013.
The Panama Papers show that Reding asked Mossack Fonseca in 2012 to create a company for him in the Seychelles.
In a January 2012 email, Reding told Mossack Fonseca that his preferences for offshore company names included Chuck Morrison, Church-hill and Melusina, the name of a water sprite from Luxembourg folklore. Reding settled on Chuck Morrison Ltd.
In response to questions, Reding told Woxx that the company was used to do auditing work. The documents from the Panama Papers show that the company’s purpose was also to hold shares in other entities, Woxx reported.
Reding told Woxx that he used Chuck Morrison Ltd. until 2015 when he closed it due to the Seychelles’ increasingly negative reputation as a tax haven. This made work “impossible” with a Seychelles company, Reding told Woxx.