The infamous Panama Papers document leak has implicated thousands of Americans who may have possibly skirted tax and financial reporting laws.
Law firm Mossack Fonseca created more than 2,800 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, and other places that specialize in helping hide wealth for more than 2,400 U.S.-based clients, The New York Times reported
Many of the transactions unveiled in the leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records are legal, The Times noted. But the firm "offered a how-to guide of sorts on skirting or evading United States tax and financial disclosure laws."
The "extremely suspicious" transactions revealed by the lead "demand investigation and, if warranted, prosecution by federal authorities," The Times said in a separate editorial
U.S. citizens can legally transfer money overseas, but they must declare the holdings and pay taxes. Offshore holdings are estimated to cost the government $40 billion to $70 billion a year in unpaid taxes, the newspaper said.
Many of Mossack Fonseca's strategies to save clients money were described as "creative, but apparently legal," The Times said. The firm denies wrongdoing and asserts that it is the victim of an illegal hacking.
An unnamed leaker first gave the Panama Papers to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, USA Today reported
. That group last month said 36 Americans included in the leaked documents had been accused of fraudulently using offshore accounts.
The global fallout from the leak has affected Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who stepped down in the wake of the leak, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who admitted to benefitting from offshore accounts.
The leak involved 140 politicians from more than 50 countries, but left American individuals and companies largely unscathed, according to Politico
, which added that many wealthy Americans avoided Panama after the 1989 invasion.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.