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Iceland PM Quits Amid Panama Papers Affair

by VOA News April 05, 2016

Iceland's prime minister resigned Tuesday in a wave of massive protests following revelations about his questionable offshore investments.

Earlier Tuesday, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who cut short his U.S. visit, refused Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson's request to dissolve the government and parliament and call new elections, following the release of the so-called Panama Papers.

Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson was under pressure to resign from thousands of protesters since documents showed he and his wife set up a company with the help of a Panamanian law firm at the center of a massive tax data leak. Gunnlaugsson has denied doing anything illegal, saying all taxes were paid.

Gunnlaugsson is among 140 politicians and public officials around the world named in the Panama Papers that have raised questions about alleged financial misconduct.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in cooperation with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations, said in a report Sunday that 11.5 million documents it obtained from a law firm in Panama show that the politicians and public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders, were involved in tax dodging.

In addition to Iceland's prime minister, ICIJ said that documents from Panama's Mossack Fonseca law firm show dozens of transactions involving people or companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin from 1977 through 2015.

Other high profile individuals include the prime ministers of Pakistan, the presidents of Ukraine and Argentina, and the king of Saudi Arabia.

ICIJ also said that documents reveal that at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they'd been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran, have had dealings with the Mossack Fonseca law firm.

The group also claims the documents show that major banks are behind the creation of the hard-to-trace companies in so called offshore havens. More than 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches have created more than 15,000 offshore companies for their customers through Mossack Fonseca, the group alleges.

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