Home World Pandora Papers: three Latin American presidents operated in tax havens

Pandora Papers: three Latin American presidents operated in tax havens

The most unequal region on the planet is, in turn, the one with the most leaders and former leaders peppered by the explosive investigation into tax havens carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Three active presidents, 11 ex-presidents, ministers and high officials of Latin America used, according to the extensive report, of a network of offshore companies in tax havens to hide their wealth and evade taxes.

In the case of Sebastian Pinera, the baptized Pandora Papers point out the purchase and sale of Minera Sundays through an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands. As for its pair Guillermo Lasso, the leaked documents highlight that came to have 14 offshore companies mainly in Panama, while the Dominican Luis Abinader has ties and is registered as a beneficiary of two companies in Panama: Littlecot Inc. and Padreso SA. The three leaders are united by a common thread: they were, each in their own way, prosperous entrepreneurs who amassed family fortunes. The investigation that continues to the Panama Papers also includes officials such as the influential Minister of Economy of Brazil, Paulo guedes, and former presidents like the peruvian Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and the Paraguayan Horacio Cartes.

Chile: Piñera and a controversial project

The Pandora Papers revealed this Sunday that the president of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, negotiated in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands the sale and purchase of the controversial mining megaproject Dominga. The ICIJ investigation indicates that the Piñera Morel family was the largest shareholder in this business project that it sold to businessman Carlos Alberto Délano, one of the president’s best friends.

In 2010 and when Piñera had been nine months into his first term (2010-2014), Délano bought the percentage of all partners for 152 million dollars. A part of the transaction was sealed with a document signed in Chile for 14 million dollars and another in the British Virgin Islands for 138 million dollars, according to the ICIJ. In the tax haven, a contract was signed that established a payment in three installments. In order to comply with the latter, there had to be no regulatory changes that would hinder the installation of the mine and its port, according to Ciper, the Chilean media that collaborated in the investigation.

The mining megaproject was approved in August this year by an environmental commission and the support of ten regional ministerial secretaries, after being rejected in 2017 by the government of Michelle Bachelet and an environmental court.. After a claim filed by the company responsible for the project, Andes Iron, against the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA), the initiative that seeks to produce more than 150 thousand tons of minerals was given the green light.

The President of Chile, who has one of the largest fortunes in the country and will leave power in March 2022, this Sunday denied having “participated in or had any information regarding the sale process” of the Dominga megaproject. A statement from his government highlighted that the aforementioned events “have already been investigated” and added that “The Prosecutor’s Office recommended that the case be terminated due to the non-existence of a crime”.

Piñera launched his credit card business in the 1970s and served as a senator for much of the 1990s, before running for president twice. His fortune is estimated at 2.8 billion dollars. As a candidate in 2018, Piñera promised that he and his family would put all of their companies in blind trusts., but these trusts were implemented only for his family’s companies in Chile, not for his children’s investments abroad.

Ecuador: former banker Guillermo Lasso

The political aspirations of the former director of Banco Guayaquil, Guillermo Lasso, led him to change the structure of the companies he had outside the country. The Pandora Papers stated that the current president of Ecuador It was linked to 14 offshore companies created in Panama, the United States and Canada, of which 10 are already inactive. Closed them after Correísmo approved a law that prohibited presidential candidates from having companies in tax havens.

The Bretten Trust and Liberty US Trust were created in 2017 in South Dakota. Lasso told ICIJ that he has “no relationship regarding ownership, control, profit or interest of any kind” with these company trusts. “I have always complied with the Ecuadorian law that prohibits candidates and public servants from owning offshore companies, exactly as I have indicated in my statements, “said the president in a letter sent to the ICIJ and the newspaper Universal on September 27, in which he highlighted that his income comes from Banco Guayaquil.

In the first presidential round of 2017, Ecuadorians approved a popular consultation to prohibit any candidate from being a beneficiary of any entity in tax havens. That consultation became law during the government of Rafael Correa. This newspaper told months ago how, Through mechanisms such as shell companies or front men, Lasso managed to overcome obstacles to becoming a presidential candidate.

Dominican Republic: Luis Abinader

The President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, is another of the active world leaders who, according to an ICIJ investigation, hid billions of dollars to evade taxes. The documents leaked and analyzed by 600 journalists from 150 media, including the Dominican SIN news, show that Abinader is linked to two offshore companies in Panama: Littlecot Inc., which he owns together with his sister and brother, and Padreso SA, in which the three brothers are shareholders..

In this case, the Pandora Papers reveal that both companies were created before Abinader became president. Abinader is the richest official in the Dominican Republic. His fortune reaches approximately 70 million dollars, according to the declaration of assets that he submitted a month before being elected president in 2020.

Brazil: Paul Guedes and Roberto Campos

The two most powerful men in the economic world of Brazil, Paulo Guedes and Roberto Campos Neto, Minister of Economy and President of the Central Bank respectively, also appear in the Pandora Papers. Guedes was one of the shareholders and director of Dreadnoughts International Group, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2014.

Documents leaked on Sunday show that Guedes, economic guru of President Jair Bolsonaro and very connected to the local financial elite, in 2014 had at least eight million dollars invested in the company registered in his name, that of his wife, María Cristina Bolívar Drumond Guedes, and that of his daughter, Paula Drumond Guedes. By the following year, that number had risen to 9.5 million., according to the documents obtained by the research, led in Brazil by the magazine Piauí.

Campos, for his part, owns four companies. Two of them, Cor Assets and ROCN Limited, are registered in Panama in partnership with his wife, lawyer Adriana Buccolo de Oliveira Campos. The stated objective of the companies is to invest in the financial assets of Santander Private Bank, where the current president of the Central Bank was a member of the executive council.

Guedes, co-founder of investment bank BTG Pactual, was one of the main advisers to President Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign. The Minister of Economy, who claims to have declared his offshore companies, was responsible for sending the tax reform bill to Congress that benefits those who have money in tax havens. Campos, for his part, signed a resolution that exempts people who have assets of less than one million dollars abroad from having to present accounts to the Central Bank.

Paraguay: Horacio Cartes

While Horacio Cartes held the presidency of Paraguay, he and his family owned offshore companies with properties worth more than one million dollars.. According to the Pandora Papers, Cartes and his three sons owned an offshore company in Panama called Dominicana Acquisition SA, which was joined by another two in 2011, Manantial Azul Development Corp. and Florale Business Corp.

According to the investigation, the three family companies were created to invest in real estate and to be account holders at Banco BASA, owned by Grupo Cartes in Paraguay. Cartes’ legal advisor responded to ICIJ that the Dominican company was used as a legal vehicle for the purchase of an apartment in Miami and that the company had never owned bank accounts.

Cartes is one of the most influential politicians and one of the richest businessmen in Paraguay. In November 2019, a judge in Brazil issued an arrest warrant against the businessman as part of Operation Lava Jato. The Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Cartes had paid $ 500,000 to a criminal organization to help hide from the authorities his “soul brother” Darío Messer, a currency trader who had fled. The former Paraguayan president denied the allegations, and the arrest warrant was revoked shortly after it was issued.

Peru: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

A contract revealed by the Pandora Papers project showed that the former president of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, created the offshore company Dorado Asset Management Ltd in the British Virgin Islands when he served as Minister of Economy and Finance (2004-2005) during the administration of Alejandro Toledo. Dorado Asset is listed as the owner of the two homes that Kuczynski has in Peru.

The offshore had been created for the possession of real estate. However, the portal Summons, which accessed the documents, revealed that the company also aimed to offer financial consulting services. Peru’s Public Ministry maintains that the offshore Dorado Asset is “key”, given that the alleged illicit profits from Kuczynski’s business with Odebrecht would have come from that fund management company. That suspicion is now part of the investigation of the Lava Jato special team.

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