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INTERNATIONAL

Europe investigates offshore scandal

Temas:

The Committee of Inquiry of the European Parliament started working this morning on examining whether or not there were cases of money laundering and tax evasion based on the revelations from the 11.2 million documents that were leaked from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The first session was devoted to the appearance of some of the journalists who worked on stories about the files, an effort coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The commission sought to clarify whether or not European governments or institutions were negligent in controlling the use of offshore financial vehicles.

Participating were Frederik Obermaier, the journalist from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, who was leaked the data and who contacted the ICIJ.

Also testifying was German public radio reporter Jan Strozyk, who made it clear that part of the operations occurred in Europe.

"With the analysis of the documents we found more than 500 banks involved in around the world. Thirty of these were directly tied to Germany," Strozyk said. "So we are not speaking of things that happened in Panama, these are things that are happening here in Europe."

Strozyk also said the law firm did not work directly with its clients.

"Mossack Fonseca, as well as many other providers of offshore companies, do not work with the final customer. This is something that we have seen in the documents. There is a system of intermediaries, who are basically a kind of missing link between Mossack Fonseca and the end customer," the journalist said.

Belgium journalist Kristof Clerix remarked that banks were mostly responsible in the creation of offshore companies.

"If we look at how clients comes in contact with Mossack Fonseca and Panama, we see that this step is made through Swiss banks," he said. "If we focus on intermediaries, we see that they played an important role in facilitating contact with Mossack Fonseca's Belgian customers."

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