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'At least 28 German banks' linked to Panama firm

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'At least 28 German banks' linked to Panama firm
Mossack Fonseca in Panama City, Panama. Photo: DPA.
08:46 CEST+02:00
"At least 28" banks in Germany used the law firm Mossack Fonseca's services in recent years, according to documents leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday that 28 German banks had used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca's services, and at least 14 banks had set up a total of more than 1,200 shell companies.

The newspaper reported that Deutsche Bank alone had set up more than 400 offshore companies.

The files leaked to the newspaper, known as the Panama Papers, are a massive leak of 11.5 million documents allegedly exposing the secret offshore dealings of a host of world leaders, celebrities and sports stars, implicating figures from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.

An investigation by more than 100 media groups, described as one of the largest such probes in history, revealed the hidden offshore assets of around 140 political figures.

The vast stash of records was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with media worldwide by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The documents, from around 214,000 offshore entities covering almost 40 years, came from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices in more than 35 countries.

Mossack Fonseca is already subject to investigations in Germany and Brazil, where it is part of a huge money laundering probe that has threatened to topple the current government.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's spokesman said on Monday that the minister hoped the revelations would "turn up the heat" on financial crimes.

"We can harness this momentum and express the hope that restrictions will be imposed," but such practices "cannot be abolished with a simple click of the fingers," spokesman Martin Jäger said.

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