Following the revelations of the Panama Papers, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has condemned those who have been exposed for hiding their wealth in offshore tax havens. It turns out that among those she has criticized are some of her associates.
On April 3, there was a massive leak of financial records from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm that helps wealthy international clients set up offshore entities to avoid taxation. These documents have been deemed the Panama Papers.
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, pointed to the staggering tax evasion evidenced in the Panama Papers as vindication for his criticism of U.S. trade deals, Wired reports.
“I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared,” Sanders said in a campaign statement.
The impact of the Panama Papers is only just beginning, but the documents have already resulted in the ousting of the Prime Minister of Iceland. The IRS has called on Americans who will be implicated in the tax avoidance scheme to voluntarily come forward instead of being caught red-handed, according to NBC News.
Clinton slammed those who benefited from Mossack Fonseca, but pointed out that many of these culprits were using legal loopholes.
"Some of this behavior is clearly against the law, and everyone who violates the law anywhere should be held accountable,” Clinton said at an AFL-CIO convention recently. “But it’s also scandalous how much is actually legal.”
Several international figures who have been implicated by the Panama Papers have been associates of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, McClatchy DC reports.
There's Gabrielle Fialkoff, Clinton’s finance director during her first senate campaign, who has holdings in a British Virgin Islands offshore company.
Also named in the Panama Papers is Canadian mining mogul Frank Giustra, who has donated $100 million to the Clinton foundation over the years.
Then there are brothers Ronald and Gilbert Chagoury, who run a construction business based in Nigeria. Both have contributed to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Next is the late Marc Rich, a billionaire and former international fugitive who former President Clinton pardoned on the last day of his administration. Rich is not explicitly named in the data trove, but his company is listed as a client of Mossack Fonseca.
Finally, there is Ng Lap Seng, a Chinese billionaire who had a running history with the Clintons during the 1990s. The Panama Papers link Send to two different tax havens. The billionaire was charged in 2015 for bribing a United Nations official.
No one in the Clinton family is named in the Panama Papers, making their connection to the controversy based only on associations.
Policy director of the Campaign Legal Center Meredith McGehee was not surprised that the Clintons would be affiliated with suspects in such a widespread tax evasion conspiracy.
“They’ve been in public life so long; when you enter that sphere you have these connections,” McGehee said.