A multi-million document leak of tax havens worldwide has implicated businesspeople, banks and companies in often questionable practices, along with the heads of several states and their collaborators.
The prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan were on the list, along with business partners of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The documents refer to at least 33 companies and individuals that have been on a United States government blacklist for having connections with Mexican drug lords, terror organizations like Hezbollah and rogue states like North Korea and Iran.
The findings are being disclosed over the next several days, with the publication of the results of an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 other media organizations, among them Haaretz.
“The database of 11.5 million documents and correspondences that has come into the hands of the ICIJ reveals how a global industry of law firms and large banks sell financial secrecy services to politicians, crooks and drug dealers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars,” Haaretz reported on Sunday.
The leaked information covers a span of nearly 40 years, from 1977 until the end of 2015. The source is a law firm called Mossack Fonseca, which has branches in over 35 locations, including Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and Israel.
Among the Israeli names that turned up: Bank Hapoalim managed some of its trusteeship activities for trust funds through the law firm. This activity, carried out by means of the subsidiary Poalim Trust Services, closed down in 2011. The documents also contain many correspondences concerning Bank Leumi activity in Jersey in the Channel Islands.
Although the tax haven industry is legal, its customers have not always been in compliance with the legal requirements to safeguard against criminal activity, such as tax evasion, money laundering and financing of terrorist and criminal organizations.