U.S. Department of Justice reviewing tax evasion leak of Panama papers for criminal wrongdoing linked to U.S.

The U.S. Justice Department says it’s reviewing the “Panama papers” tax evasion leak for evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing that might have a link to the United States or to its financial system. Spokesman Peter Carr said the department is aware of the Panama Papers data leak containing information on the offshore financial dealings of wealthy, famous and powerful people around the world. He says the department is reviewing the reports but can’t comment on specific documents. He said “the U.S. Department of Justice takes very seriously all credible allegations of high level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the U.S. financial system.” So far there have been no Americans openly named in the documents but thousands of Europeans have been named..

Reports by  media outlets reveals information on the offshore assets and services of politicians, businesses and celebrities, based on a cache of 11.5 million records. Among the countries with past or present political figures named are Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina. In Australia, the tax agency said it was investigating more than 800 wealthy people for possible tax evasion linked to their alleged dealings with Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm with international offices that provide offshore financial services.

The documents provided to Suddeutsche Zeitung, amounting to about 2.6 terabytes of data, included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records detailing how powerful figures used banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets. The data dated from 1977 through the end of 2015, it said.

The newspaper and its partners verified the authenticity of the data by comparing it to public registers, witness testimony and court rulings, he told the AP. A previous cache of Mossack Fonseca documents obtained by German authorities was also used to verify the new material, Obermayer added.The Guardian newspaper, which participated in the investigation, published a video on its website late Sunday of an interview with Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. During the interview with Sweden’s SVT television, the prime minister is asked about a company called Wintris. He responds by insisting that its affairs are above board and calling the question “completely inappropriate,” before breaking off the interview.

According to reports, banks including HSBC, UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank have worked with Mossack Fonseca to create offshore accounts.

 

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers