Yesterday, the media reported on a leak of more than 11 million files (the ‘Panama Papers’) from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.
The records concern more than 200,000 companies for which the firm acted as agent and which were registered in a number of tax havens. Mossack Fonseca mostly acted on instructions from intermediaries, including international banks and trust companies. The global journalist network International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced that it will reveal the full list of companies included in the files, and people linked to them, in May 2016.
The files show that a number of banks, including the GES universe companies Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Société Générale, Credit Suisse, UBS and Commerzbank, cooperated with Mossack Fonseca. Media reports on the issue are focusing on wealthy individuals setting up shell companies and, to date, there has been no new evidence in the leaked documents that would show that the money transferred by the banks had been gained illegally by these persons.
Authorities in several countries have started official investigations to check banks’ anti-money laundering procedures, as shown by the examples of Nordea Bank in Sweden, Raiffeisen Bank International and Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg in Austria.
Also, on 30 March, the media reported a large information leak from Unaoil, which mainly relates to bribery allegations in the oil services sector.
Hanna Roberts, CEO of GES International, a leading service provider of engagement services to institutional investors globally, commented:
“The implications of the Panama Papers and Unaoil leaks are vast. If violations are found, it may result in multi-million dollar penalties for the companies involved. This could have a major impact on shareholder value.
As new information emerges over the coming weeks about the Panama Papers and the Unaoil bribery allegations, GES will monitor developments and analyse information on any GES universe companies linked to Mossack Fonseca – both Mossack Fonseca clients and intermediaries – and Unaoil. Any incidents in the GES scope will be reported on.”
For more information, please contact:
Maja Kostrzewa, Communications Coordinator