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Argentina president faces Panama Papers probe

Friday, Apr 8, 2016,10:16 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Panama City | Argentine President Mauricio Macri became the latest world leader caught in the storm of the so-called Panama Papers today as prosecutors opened an investigation into his offshore financial dealings.

Macri, the leading symbol of a budding right-wing resurgence in Latin America, joins Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping in the tempest unleashed by the leak of millions of offshore financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

But unlike Putin and Xi, who are only connected to the revelations via their inner circles, Macri is listed on the board of directors of two offshore firms, one registered in the Bahamas and the other in Panama.

Argentine federal prosecutor Federico Delgado said he had asked a judge to request information from the national tax authority and anti-corruption office to determine whether Macri omitted, with malicious intent, to complete his sworn declaration of assets, a requirement for Argentine public officials.

Macri did not list either company in his financial declarations when he became Buenos Aires mayor in 2007 or president last December. The conservative leader, who vowed to fight corruption during his presidential campaign, denies wrong doing and says the firms were legitimate operations set up by his father, a wealthy business magnate.

Putin for his part ridiculed the international media probe behind the revelations, deriding it as US-orchestrated and boasting that a year-long investigation had failed to find any mention of his name. They combed through these offshore accounts.

Your humble servant is not there. What is there to talk about, Putin said referring to himself, at a televised forum held in Saint Petersburg. He denied any element of corruption and warmly defended his friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin, whom the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) found had secretly shuffled as much as USD 2 billion through banks and shadow companies.

The ICIJ coordinated the investigation with more than 100 media groups around the world after the 11.5 million documents were obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Putin lambasted the probe as a Washington conspiracy, pointing to a Twitter post by whistleblowing group WikiLeaks that said US govt funded #PanamaPapers attack story on Putin via USAID.