×

Colombian president says he left firm listed in leaked tax haven papers

BOGOTA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, in response to his name appearing in a trove of leaked documents about offshore investments, said he left a company registered in tax haven Barbados before taking a ministerial post with a previous government.

The so-called Paradise Papers published on Sunday showed the investments of wealthy people and institutions ranging from United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Reuters has not independently verified the documents.

Santos was listed in the leaked documents as a board member of insurance company Nova Holding in April and May 2000 and also Global Tuition, an insurance firm focused on education, from April 1999 to May 2001.

Santos said in a statement on Sunday that he left Global Tuition before taking up his duties as Finance Minister in the government of then-President Andres Pastrana in August 2000. He said he was not a partner, did not invest any money and was not paid for serving on the board.

"I imagine they delayed in officially registering the changes," Santos said in answers given to El Espectador newspaper and released by his office. "I participated until before I became Finance Minister."

Santos said that after 2000 he was a Global Tuition client "for some of their insurance for the education of my three children."

Global Tuition's office was closed in Colombia for a public holiday on Monday and could not be reached for comment. The company's office in the United States said any comment would come from the Colombia office.

The president's statement did not mention the other company, Nova Holding.

Nova Holding could not immediately be reached for comment.

The documents were obtained by Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and some media outlets, including El Espectador and Connectas website in Colombia.

The names of three former Colombian defense ministers and two former ambassadors to the United States also appear in the leaked papers.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Grant McCool)