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Is Putin Behind Panama Papers Leak?

Image: Is Putin Behind Panama Papers Leak?
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 10 Apr 2016 01:11 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first world leader mentioned when the Panama Papers leak first hit the press last week, but one prominent economist is suggesting Putin himself might be behind the leak.

In a blog post at the Brookings Institution Clifford Gaddy notes that nothing in the documents which reveal vast wealth held by various world leaders in off-shore shell companies, proves anything specific about Putin himself. Nor do those documents advance the story on Putin any further than the rumors that have long existed about him.

In Putin's case, the wealth is tied only to Putin's close associates, not to the leader himself. But many Western leaders didn't get off so easily.

Perhaps, Gaddy argues, the reason the story led with Putin was a feint to cover the fact that it was actually Putin's own Russian Financial Monitoring Service that leaked the 11.5 million documents to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

"It's worth looking at the Panama Papers in that context: Journalists are targeting Putin far out of proportion to the evidence they present," Gaddy writes. "This information will not harm Putin at all — instead, it gives Putin cover, so he can shrug and say: 'Look, everybody does it.'"

And, Gaddy adds, there is curiously no information on Americans in the papers, though there should surely be some in such a massive batch of documents.

The reason, he posits, is that the Russians might be holding that information for blackmail purposes.

"It is a message directed at the Americans and other Western political leaders who could be mentioned but are not," he writes. "The message is: 'We have information on your financial misdeeds, too. You know we do. We can keep them secret if you work with us.'"

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Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first world leader mentioned when the Panama Papers leak first hit the press last week, but one prominent economist is suggesting Putin himself might be behind the leak. In a blog post at the Brookings Institution Clifford Gaddy...
panama papers, putin, possibly, behind
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2016-11-10
Sunday, 10 Apr 2016 01:11 PM
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