Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Panama Papers reveal offshore links in Peruvian elections (April 5, 2016)

A little more on the Panama Papers revelations. (See yesterday's briefs.) As most news sources are noting, including the Wall Street Journal, there's nothing inherently illegal in having the types of offshore holdings the 11.5 million documents show world leaders, public officials, executives, celebrities and people close to them as having. But the reports coming out have said intermediaries have protected clients by hiding wealth or transactions in tax havens.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has a piece looking at the Latin American accused.

National outlets associated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have local angles on the revelations.

In Perú Ojo Público takes a look at the history of Mossack Foneseca in Lima and how it collaborates with the economic elite to evade taxes. While IDL-Reporteros reviews all of the "politically-exposed" Peruvians who show up in the documents, including José Francisco Lizier Corbetto, who transported runaway Vladimiro Montesinos to Venezuela in his sailboat.

Of the presidential candidates, front-runner Keiko Fujimori is most prominently linked, two of her major backers for the past two elections have offshore holdings in international tax havens, reports Ojo Público. And possible second place winner Pedro Pablo Kuczynsky, while serving as Alejandro Toledo's prime minister, wrote a letter of recommendation for a former banking friend of his who used it to open up a holding in Panama. Candidate and former President Alan García is mentioned, thanks to a holding of a business partner of his and a former minister in his government. And former candidate César Acuña's brother, legislator Virgilio Acuña also appears in the leaked documents.

IDL-Reporteros, together with Venezuelan Armando Noticias, reports on how a Peruvian banker triangulate funds between Havana and Caracas, hiding the German origins of new Venezuelan passports supposedly fabricated by a Cuban firm.

The documents mention Venezuela 241,000 times and the country's National Assembly has vowed to follow up with relevant investigations, reports Aristegui Noticias.

Aristegui Noticias reports on the sketchy money movements of President Enrique Peña Nieto's "favorite" contractor -- whose fortune increased by about 800 million dollars in parallel with the politician's career. Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú is best known for his involvement in the so-called "Casa Blanca" scandal, in which Angelica Rivera, a former soap opera star and current First Lady, bought  a US $7 million mansion from him in one of Mexico City's upscale neighborhoods, reports Forbes.

In the midst of that scandal, Hinojosa moved more than 100 million dollars through a web of offshore accounts in his mother and mother-in-laws name, reports Proceso.

In Argentina, La Nación reports on President Mauricio Macri's involvement in an offshore company during his tenure as mayor of Buenos Aires, though he has denied that this involves any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the political opposition, and even allies, are demanding more proof regarding the legality of his actions, reports El País.

Lionel Messi has also been involved. He is already under investigation on suspicion of tax evasion in Spain, where he plays, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Panamanians, in the meantime, are rejecting the label of the region's money launderer, reports the Associated Press. And, in truth, studies have pointed that other countries, including the U.S., are even more permissive towards shell companies. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has promised to cooperate with any judicial investigations stemming from the leaked data.

The Associated Press has a piece looking at the unlikely pairing of lawyers at the heart of the scandal, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca.

News Briefs
  • Brazil's solicitor general made the case against President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment to the special parliamentary committee tasked with recommending whether the lower chamber should move forward with the process. He argued that Rousseff had broken no laws and was the victim of a "coup" by rivals, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Neither side has enough support to guarantee victory, and outcome of the impeachment proceedings may boil down to a handful of no-shows and abstentions, according to Reuters. Polls suggest her opponents do not have the two-thirds majority they need to send her to political trial in the Senate. But her allies lack the 171 votes needed to block it.
  • Clarification on yesterday's brief about conflicting reports regarding a possible fire that eliminated the bodies of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students: the new report that indicates that version may be true was written by a group of fire experts jointly selected by the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the GIEI, explains El Daily Post's Alejandro Hope. He susses out the nuances of the various reports regarding the fire in the Cocula dump, and notes that the new report doesn't necessarily support the government version of events, that the missing students were burned there. Rather it points to evidence that about 17 bodies were burned there at some point. Nonetheless, the whole issue remains inconclusive, he notes.
  • A U.N. report about a month into the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti uncovered serious sanitation failures in its peacekeeping mission in that country, including sewage being dumped in the open. The leaked report will add to pressure on the world body to face up to the role it played as the source of the cholera epidemic, according to the Guardian. (See March 2's briefs.)
  • Ecuador has started drilling for oil on the edge of a block of pristine rainforest, a move which indigenous people, rainforest campaigners and many Ecuadoreans say could lead to pollution, forest destruction and endanger two of the last tribes in the world living in voluntary isolation, reports the Guardian.
  • In the short-term, it seems Donald Trump's border wall rhetoric is encouraging migration from Central America, in a sort of "now or never" mentality for migrants, reports the Guardian.

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