Panama Papers firm hits back after data leak

The law firm at the centre of a massive data leak, detailing how money was funnelled to shell companies in tax havens, hit back late Monday at "inaccurate" media reports about its work.

"These reports rely on supposition and stereotypes, and play on the public’s lack of familiarity with the work of firms like ours," Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca said in a statement.

The revelations led to calls for the resignation of Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, accusations against members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle among many other public figures, as well as criticism of the firm itself.

In a four-page document, the company reiterated that it had "never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing," following the leak of millions of documents to the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung among other news outlets.

The publication of the data also reignited the debate over how the world's wealthy make use of tax-avoidance schemes not available to most of the world's population.

The firm set up offshore companies for clients for "a variety of legitimate reasons, including conducting cross-border mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, estate planning, personal safety, and restructurings and pooling of investment capital from investors residing in different jurisdictions who want a neutral legal and tax regime that does not benefit or disadvantage any one investor," Mossack Fonseca said.

"We are legally and practically limited in our ability to regulate the use of companies we incorporate or to which we provide other services ... We regret any misuse of companies that we incorporate," the statement added.

China Tuesday blocked access to the Panama papers on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was one of the agencies compiling the material.

Beiing also issued censorship orders to remove all references to the scandal from local media posts, and block searches for Panama or the names of Chinese nationals named in the report, according to a report by Hong Kong-based China Digital Times.

The brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping and family members of at least eight current and former members of the politburo standing committee were named as having set up offshore companies through Mossack Fonseca.

Last update: Tue, 05/04/2016 - 12:33
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