Transparency International Portugal considers it a “happy coincidence” that the investigation into tax havens Pandora Papers was released a few days after the escape from justice of former BPP president João Rendeiro, “who had offshores in his name”.
“It’s a happy coincidence that the Pandora Papers have been breaking out a few days after we learn, for example, that João Rendeiro had fled from justice and that it was known that he had ‘offshores’ in his name. This proves that the issue of ‘offshores’ continues to be of concern, and that it allows criminals and corrupts to be able to hide their assets, and, when necessary, make use of it to protect themselves and to maintain their lifestyles as if it were nothing “, said the president of the association, Susana Coroado, in a statement to Lusa.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists this Sunday published a new investigation, called Pandora Papers, which reveals that 35 world leaders (current and former) and more than 330 politicians and public officials, from 91 countries and territories, have hidden fortunes of millions of people. dollars to not pay taxes.
According to the newspaper Expresso, which is part of the consortium, there are three Portuguese people involved: former ministers Nuno Morais Sarmento and Manuel Pinho and lawyer and former Socialist deputy Vitalino Canas.
Regarding the three Portuguese people involved, Susana Coroado declined to comment, emphasizing that “each story of the three Portuguese politicians is different”, and “perhaps, in the coming days we will find out more details about that”.
The research carried out by Expresso reveals that Nuno Morais Sarmento, currently vice president of the PSD, was the beneficiary of an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands that served to buy a diving school and a hotel in Mozambique; Vitalino Canas was granted a power of attorney to act on behalf of a company, also registered in the British Virgin Islands, to open accounts in Macau; and Manuel Pinho was the beneficiary of three offshore companies and transferred his money to one of them when he wanted to buy an apartment in New York.
The three Portuguese on the list of Pandora Papers provided clarifications to the Express. Morais Sarmento justifies access to an offshore company with the “limitations” to foreigners existing at the time in Mozambique, Manuel Pinho says he has “no income by declaring to the tax authorities from anywhere” and Vitalino Canas that the case referred to is part of the practice of law “under Portuguese law”.
The president of the board of Transparency International of Portugal stresses that “it is necessary to improve the records of effective beneficiaries, so that the offshore companies do not serve as Russian dolls that hide the identity of their true owners”.
“It is necessary that all countries start to have registries and that they start to function. Portugal does, but it doesn’t work well,” he said.
In addition, he stressed, “we must also put greater pressure on intermediaries”.
The official recalled that “as offshores are not possible if there are no intermediaries such as accountants, lawyers, etc., who create them”.
“All these scandals have proved that, because it is information that comes to the public precisely through these intermediary companies that is revealed,” he said.
For Susana Coroado, “it is essential that regulators and national authorities exert pressure on intermediaries and that this culture of creating ‘offshores’ and this whitening in communication and public opinion, which constantly repeats that having an offshore it is not illegal”.
“If it is true that having an offshore company is not illegal, what we have seen is that they have more losses than benefits for the public interest, because they are usually associated with tax evasion, money laundering, wealth concealment. It is necessary to fight against it. them hard and effectively, “he defended.
Among the names accused in the Pandora Papers investigation are King Abdallah II of Jordan, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, and Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, revealing the investigation, published in news outlets such as The Washington Post, BBC and The Guardian.
AN investigation It also reveals new details on major foreign donors to the Conservative Party of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and details the questionable financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial propaganda minister”.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s next circle is denounced for hiding millions of dollars in outside companies and entities.
Also the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and the six members of his family are denounced for secretly owning at least 11 companies abroad, one of which is valued at US$30 million.
The ICIJ says it based its investigation on an “unprecedented leak” involving some two million documents, worked by 600 journalists, a “greatest partnership in the history of journalism”.