The massive Panama Papers financial data leak had US sponsors, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"Who is behind such provocations? We known that they are employees of official US institutions," Putin said during an annual, nationally televised show in which he answers questions from the Russian public.
Media reports earlier this month revealed the leak from a Panama-based law firm that specializes in ways to store cash in the tax haven.
Reports alleged that reputed members of Putin's inner circle used secret offshore deals to hide fortunes made possible through his patronage.
Putin said in his call-in show that the first report on the leak appeared in the Munich-based daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, "which is part of a media holding owned by the US financial corporation Goldman Sachs."
"The sponsors' ears are sticking out everywhere, but they do not even blush," Putin said, adding that "as the elections approach, there will be more of these shams."
The US presidential election takes place later this year, as do Russian elections for the national parliament.
The Panama Papers "serve only to muddy the waters," Putin said. "They do not specifically incriminate anyone."
Putin was not directly named in the leak, from the law firm Mossack Fonseca.
A day after the media reports revealed the leak, a top Russian anti-corruption official, Irina Yarovaya, denounced the reports as "attacks" on the Russian leadership.
Yarovaya, who heads the anti-corruption committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, also said such attacks will increase as the elections approach.
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