Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, has reportedly resigned over revelations contained in the Panama Papers that he and his wife hid millions of dollars worth of investments in an offshore shell company.
Iceland’s minister of fisheries and agriculture, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, will take over from Gunnlaugsson, the Financial Times reported.
Gunnlaugsson walked out of an interview with the Swedish television company SVT in March when asked about his and his wife’s relationship to Wintris.
The leaks — a collaborative effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and contain over 11 million records dating back 40 years.
They amount to about 3 terabytes of data, including corporate records, financial filings, and emails. It is roughly 1,500 times as big as the 1.7 gigabytes of data dumped in 2010 by Wikileaks.
While anonymous company structures hidden in offshore holdings are not illegal, the leaks reveal the extent to which many high-level political figures have relied on shell companies to conceal their wealth, launder money, or evade taxes.
A memorandum from a Mossack Fonseca partner contained in the leak reads, “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes,” according to The Guardian.
To that end, offshore companies can also be used for more nefarious purposes, such as to do business with blacklisted firms or people.
Among those implicated are Argentine President Mauricio Macri — who was listed as a director of a Bahamas company that dissolved in 2009 known as Fleg Trading Ltd., which did business in Brazil — and the king of Saudi Arabia, who evidently used shell companies in the British Virgin islands to take out $34 million worth of mortgages for properties in London, Fusion found in a review of the documents.
Harrison Jacobs contributed to this article.
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