Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Politicians, celebs deny abuse of offshore accounts

Published:Thursday | April 7, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson (right) gives a statement at the Parliament regarding the Panama papers.
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BERLIN (AP):

The president of Ukraine became the latest prominent politician to deny wrongdoing yesterday after his name was linked to secretive offshore accounts arranged by a Panama law firm.

The revelations have raised suspicion that such offshore entities were set up to avoid taxes, but Petro Poroshenko denied that was the purpose in his case. Rather, he said, it was necessary to create an offshore holding company to put his candy business in a blind trust when he became president of Ukraine in 2014.

"This is a absolutely normal procedure, and I think this is the main difference from the naming of all the political figures in this Panama list," Poroshenko said in Tokyo, where he was meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and business leaders.

"If we have anything to be investigated, I am happy to do that," he said. "But, this is absolutely transparent from the very beginning. No hidden account, no associated management, no nothing."

Reports, based on a trove of confidential documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, have purported to expose the offshore arrangements of public officials, business people and celebrities around the world.

Iceland's prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugs-son became the first casualty of the affair on Tuesday, stepping down two days after a video was aired showing him breaking off a television interview over questions about his family's offshore dealings.

Gunnlaugsson had faced opposition calls to resign over revelations he had used a shell company to shelter large sums while Iceland's economy was in crisis.