Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Austrian bank CEO resigns over offshore leaks

Published:Friday | April 8, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Dominique Plihot (right), spokesman for ATTAC, delivers his speech with anti-fraud activists blocking entrances at Société Générale’s Paris headquarters as part of a protest accusing the French bank of ties to the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ in Paris, France, yesterday.

PARIS (AP):

As media outlets worldwide continue their investigation into offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous, the chief executive of Austrian lender Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg has resigned after the bank was mentioned in reports about offshore companies.

The bank disclosed yesterday that Michael Grahammer "surprisingly declared his resignation last night (Wednesday)".

Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported this week that at least 20 offshore companies had accounts with Hypo Vorarlberg, including one attributed to Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire with longtime personal ties to President Vladimir Putin.

ORF is one of dozens of media outlets worldwide that had access to the so-called Panama Papers, a trove of documents detailing offshore companies of the rich and famous.

Grahammer said in a statement that "media pre-judgment" prompted him to resign, but that both he and the bank had acted according within the law.

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Meanwhile, anti-fraud activists blocked entrances at the Paris headquarters of French bank SociÈtÈ GÈnÈrale to protest its alleged involvement in creating offshore accounts, as detailed in the so-called 'Panama Papers' reports.

Around 40 protesters physically blocked the main and side entrances of the building in central Paris yesterday, waving banners that read "Fiscal Fraud, Social Crime".

Dominique Plihot, spokesman for the ATTAC activist group, said he was there "to create public awareness that SociÈtÈ GÈnÈrale was among the big banks cited in the documents" released by an international probe of offshore accounts.

French newspaper Le Monde has said

the bank created hundreds of offshore

companies via Panamian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

SociÈtÈ GÈnÈrale denies any accusations of fraud and tax evasion and repeated in a statement its commitment to the fight against such activities.