A series of fresh leaks from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca have revealed links of the global elite ─ including football superstar Lionel Messi, Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his family, and other prominent world leaders ─ to offshore holdings, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported (ICIJ) on Wednesday.
The 1.2 million documents leaked, dating a few months prior to the April 2016 Panama Papers and continuing through to December 2017, also show Mossack Fonseca scrambling to ascertain the identities of "tens of thousands of owners of companies it had registered in opaque, low-tax jurisdictions".
The ICIJ, in partnership with dozens of countries, will be publishing detailed reports on the fresh leaks, but released a few brief findings yesterday.
The latest leaks show that Argentinian football star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge ─ who are already being investigated for using offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay to avoid paying taxes ─ own yet another offshore company, Mega Star Enterprises, based in Panama.
In 2016, Messi had claimed that the company was "totally inactive"; however, emails from Mossack Fonseca suggest otherwise.
Mossack Fonseca employees, according to the leaks, exchanged emails discussing plans to backdate documents to "conceal the fact that the firm did not know that a company it had set up in the Bahamas, Fleg Trading Co., was controlled by the family of Argentine president Mauricio Macri."
The leaks also detail "swollen bank accounts and offshore assets of political figures accused of statewide looting", such as Malaysia’s former prime minister, Najib Razak ─ who is currently facing a corruption probe, the former head of the agency that oversees Kuwait's social security system, Fahad Al Rajaan, Russian oligarch Vitaly Malkin, and Kazakhstan's former deputy prime minister Dariga Nazarbayeva.
Additionally, the fresh leaks reveal Mossack Fonseca's ties to a host of other celebrities, politicians and alleged criminals, which even the firm itself was unaware it represented. One such example are the heirs to luxury fashion brand Cartier.