Trove of data on offshore accounts prompts probe, questions
The release of a vast trove of documents and data on offshore financial dealings of wealthy, famous and powerful people around the world is raising questions over the widespread use of such tactics to avoid taxes and skirt financial oversight.
Reports by an international coalition of media outlets on an investigation with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)brought to light details of offshore assets and services of politicians, businesses and celebrities, based on a cache of 11.5 million records.
Among the countries with past or present political figures named in the reports are Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina.
Vladimir Putin's spokesman claimed that the Russian president was the "main target" of the investigation, which he suggested was the result of "Putinophobia" and aimed at smearing the country in a parliamentary election year. The ICIJ has links to the US government, Dmitry Peskov suggested.
"I don't consider it possible to go into the details" of allegations that Putin's friends ran an offshore scheme, Peskov told reporters, "mainly because there is nothing concrete and nothing new about Putin and a lack of details." He added that Sergei Roldugin, a St Petersburg-based cellist allegedly involved in the offshore schemes, was a friend of Putin's, but that the president "has very many friends".