Express investigative journalist Camini Marajh reported exclusively yesterday that business consultant Ken Emrith who was once associated with the United National Congress (UNC) used a Panamanian Shell Corporation to channel millions of US dollars to offshore bank accounts including a US$1 million consultancy fee from a convicted money launderer connected to the Petrobras bribery scandal in Brazil.
The information was revealed from secret files from Mossack Fonseca & Co (MF), a global law firm and provider of offshore services has revealed.
The files, dubbed “The Panama Papers” were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the Trinidad Express and other media partners.
Emrith has refused comment.
Part II of the story will be published in tomorrow’s Express.
Governments across the world began investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful yesterday after a leak of four decades of documents from a Panamanian law firm that specialised in setting up offshore companies.
The “Panama Papers” revealed financial arrangements of global politicians and public figures including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain, Iceland and Pakistan, and the president of Ukraine.
While holding money in offshore companies is not illegal, journalists who received the leaked documents said they could provide evidence of funds hidden for tax evasion, money laundering, sanctions busting, drug deals or other crimes.
The law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which says it has set up more than 240,000 offshore companies for clients around the globe, denied any wrongdoing and called itself the victim of a campaign against privacy.
The Kremlin said the documents contained “nothing concrete and nothing new” while a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said his late father’s reported links to an offshore company were a “private matter”.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson could not immediately be reached for comment on the naming of his wife in connection with a secretive company in an offshore haven, which brought opposition calls for him to resign.
Pakistan denied any wrongdoing by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after his daughter and son were linked to offshore companies. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko did not comment on his reported offshore links.
Australia, Austria, France, Sweden and the Netherlands were among countries which said they had begun investigating the allegations, based on more than 11.5 million documents from Mossack Fonseca.
Banks came under the spotlight for allegedly helping clients hide their funds offshore.
The documents, covering a period from 1977 until last December, were leaked to more than 100 news organisations around the world, cooperating with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a Washington, DC-based network.
“I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents,” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle said.