Kremlin backtracks on Goldman Sachs accusation

Kremlin says sorry to Goldman Sachs

The Kremlin has apologized over Russian President Vladimir Putin's accusations that U.S. bank Goldman Sachs was behind one of the leading German papers that publicized the Panama Papers leak which drew links to Putin's associates.

Putin suggested that Sueddeutsche Zeitung – a German newspaper that was heavily involved with the reporting – was obligated to the U.S. bank during his annual citizen call-in session on Thursday.

"Who is engaged in these provocations? We know that there are employees of official U.S. agencies; an article was written – I asked (my) press secretary (Dmitry) Peskov where it first appeared – in Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Sueddeutsche Zeitung is part of a media holding that belongs to the U.S. financial corporation Goldman Sachs. In other words, those behind this stick out, but they never blush," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

The Kremlin came out less than 24 hours later to apologize for Putin's comments, blaming misinformation over the German newspaper's ownership on one of the president's aides.

"It is more the error of those who prepared the briefing documents, my error," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.

Putin: Blame Goldman for Panama Papers

"There was information there that had not been checked and rechecked again and we gave it to the president. We have apologized (to the bank) and we will also apologize to the publication," Peskov added.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. Sueddeutsche Zeitung did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comments following the news.

While Putin is not named in the documents there are allegations of a billion-dollar money-laundering ring controlled by a Russian bank that has links to associates of the Russian leader. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), one of the teams that has been analyzing the data, told CNBC the papers show Putin's close associates were involved in a $2 billion money trail with offshore firms and banks.

CNBC's Matt Clinch contributed to this report.

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