Tax authorities in Australia and New Zealand are probing local clients of a Panama-based law firm at the centre of a massive data leak for possible tax evasion. As Sara Hemrajani reports, other jurisdictions are likely to follow suit following the leak of details of hundreds of thousands of clients in more than 11.5 million documents.
Lifting the veil on the shadowy world of offshore finance. A new global investigation has revealed how politicians, government officials and their families allegedly used a law firm in Panama to evade taxes and launder money. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has sifted through millions of files leaked from Mossack Fonseca. They appear to show how clients, including billionaires and heads of state, used shell companies to hide millions of dollars from the authorities. The Kremlin's dismissed links to President Vladimir Putin. He isn't named in the leak, but Britain's Guardian newspaper says the documents show a network of secret offshore deals and loans worth $2 billion that can be traced to him. Mossack Fonseca denies all wrongdoing, saying it "does not foster or promote illegal acts". But campaigners condemn the lack of transparency. SOUNDBITE: Robert Palmer, Corruption Expert, Global Witness, saying (English): "There's a very thin, grey line between tax avoidance - which may be legal - and tax evasion - which is definitely illegal. But the problem is that with offshore secrecy, with being able to hide your identity behind complicated webs of companies, it's impossible to know what's really going on." Tax authorities in Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands say they'll begin investigations. But many analysts are sceptical. SOUNDBITE: Mike Ingram, Market Strategist, BGC Partners, saying (English): "On the basis that turkeys never vote for Christmas, and supposedly many of these politicians are allegedly beneficiaries of these kinds of tax havens, then I suspect that a substantive move is actually going to be little to nothing." But the so-called "Panama Papers" may be about to have a high-profile casualty. The BBC is reporting that Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife are implicated and he's now under pressure to resign.