Europe left reeling from Panama Papers leak


Before the weekend, very few people had considered Panama a key global financial center and even fewer had heard of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

But thanks to a massive leak of some 11 million documents, the world's financial and political leaders have been rocked by disclosures of offshore funds, tax evasion and money laundering.

A lot of the practices mentioned in the so-called Panama Papers, including having an offshore company, aren't illegal. Mossack Fonseca has also stressed that it has never been charged with criminal wrongdoing and that recent media reports have portrayed an inaccurate view of the services it provides. CNBC has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

The shockwaves from the Panama Papers data-dump are still being felt across Europe, causing some very high-profile casualties. CNBC takes a look at the latest news:


Prime Minister David Cameron has had better weeks. As well fighting an increasingly bitter battle over the U.K.'s future in the European Union, the Panama Papers revealed that his late father, Ian, had used Mossack Fonseca to shield his investment fund from U.K. taxes.

A spokesperson for Cameron insisted that the prime minister and his family do not benefit from any offshore funds.

On Thursday, however, the Financial Times revealed that, during EU moves to clamp down on tax evasion, Cameron wrote to Herman van Rompuy, president of the European Council, asking him to stop beneficiaries of trusts from being named .

A government source told the FT that the prime minister's letter reflected official advice that any registry of beneficiaries would have distracted the main objective of stopping corporate tax evasion.


France's political elite has also failed to escape the fallout from the Panama Papers.

Former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has turned up in the Panama Papers, according to Le Monde newspaper, as one of the directors of Leyne, Strauss-Kahn and Partners (LSK). The company, Le Monde reports, helps clients set up in tax havens through a subsidiary called ASSYA Asset Management Luxembourg (AAML), which had started operations in 2007 under different management before being bought in 2013 by LSK .

Quoted in Le Monde, Strauss-Kahn said he was not involved in the daily management of the company and even less in AAML.

Le Monde also reported that close friends and family members of right-wing anti-immigration party National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen were also named in the Panama Papers as using offshore funds.

On Monday the FN issued a statement that it "wasn't involved in the Panama Papers affair" and would "not tolerate any confusion," the Financial Times reported.


DOJ launches Panama Papers probe amid pressure on global tax authorities
Icelands Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson attends a session of parliament in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016. Iceland's prime minister faced calls to resign after leaked 'Panama Papers' tax documents showed he and his wife used an offshore firm to allegedly hide million-dollar investments.
Iceland PM offers to step down after Panama Papers scandal

In Geneva, the prosecutor has announced a criminal inquiry in connection with the Panama Papers, which have named several of the city's lawyers and financial institutions as being behind the creation of offshore funds, Reuters reported.

News of the investigation follows a raid by Swiss police on the headquarters of the European soccer body UEFA to gather information on a television rights deal reported in the Panama Papers and signed by its then head Gianni Infantino, who is now head of global soccer's FIFA.

Infantino, who became FIFA president in February, said in a statement issued by the soccer body that he welcomed any investigation into the matter and was "dismayed that his integrity was being doubted," Reuters reported..


The chief executive of Austrian bank Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg has stepped down following revelations in the Panama Papers that the lender was connected to offshore companies via Liechtenstein, Reuters reported.

The decision decision was prompted by various developments in the past year including the recent reports surrounding the leaked documents, the bank quoted chief executive Michael Grahammer as saying, Reuters reported.

In a statement Grahammer, who has been chief executive since 2012, said: "I remain 100 percent convinced that the bank at no point violated laws or sanctions."

Meanwhile, Austrian authorities have launched an investigation into whether Austrian banks took sufficient steps to prevent money laundering.


Iceland's government Wednesday named a new prime minister and called for early elections in the autumn, a day after Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister following revelations in the Panama Papers, Reuters reported.

Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson will head the government, replacing Gunnlaugsson who stepped down following revelations that his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks.

A poll by Icelandic media outlet Visir showed activist movement the Pirate Party would win the biggest share of the votes if elections were held now, Reuters reported.

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