The Latest: Tiny Pacific nations favored for hosting trusts

AP News
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Posted: May 09, 2016 6:24 PM

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Latest on the release of a database listing offshore companies named in the Panama Papers (all times local):

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12:09 a.m.

The database culled from the leaked files known as the Panama Papers reveals how some tiny countries in the South Pacific have been favored as places to set up offshore trusts.

According to the database, there have been more than 13,000 offshore companies and trusts set up in Samoa, population 200,000, and nearly 10,000 in Niue, which has a population of just 1,200. Some of the trusts listed are no longer operational.

It appears Samoa has become a more favored destination in recent years after Niue implemented changes to its tax arrangements about a decade ago.

There are also more than 500 entities listed under the jurisdiction of the Cook Islands, population 10,000, and more than 600 in Singapore, population 5.7 million.

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10:30 p.m.

Ecuador is proposing a joint investigation into possible wrongdoing revealed by the leaked data trove known as the Panama Papers.

Ecuadorian Attorney General Galo Chiriboga said Monday that he would be meeting with his Panamanian counterpart in two weeks.

Ecuadorians named in the leak include the former president of the central bank and a former member of the national intelligence service. The attorney general himself has also been named.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said on Monday his country would share information and cooperate with other jurisdictions in connection with the release of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossak Fonseca that exposed offshore companies of the rich and powerful.

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9:10 p.m.

Investigative journalists mining the leaked data trove known as the Panama Papers say that the law firm had ties to dozens of Americans accused of financial misconduct.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reported Monday that the activities of Panamanian firm Mosseck Fonseca included setting up offshore companies for people who had brushes with the law.

Setting up an offshore company is not illegal. But they can be used to hide money from authorities.

The ICIJ said one "longtime customer" of the firm was a U.S. financier later sentence to 17 years in prison for fraud. It said the firm set up an offshore company used by six Americans accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cost middle-class Indonesians millions.

Mossack Fonseca has said it obeyed rules on vetting customers.

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8:45 p.m.

A global network of investigative journalists has published data on more than 200,000 offshore entities that was the source of a recent string of stories about companies and individuals who hid money in tax havens.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists says publishing the data doesn't imply that all of the persons and companies mentioned broke the law, since there are legitimate uses for offshore companies.

But the data, first obtained by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, has already highlighted the extent to which the rich and powerful use shell companies to hide money, and led to the resignation of Iceland's prime minister.

The data relates to clients of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which says it was hacked.

Bank accounts, phone numbers and email addresses were left out of the database published Monday at https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/ .

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4:23 p.m.

The investigative journalists who reported on a trove of data about offshore companies of the rich and powerful are making the names of 200,000 entities available in a searchable database.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists says the data from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca will be published Monday at 1800 GMT (2 p.m. ET) on its website .

They contain basic corporate information about companies, trusts and foundations in 21 jurisdictions including Hong Kong and the U.S. state of Nevada. Bank accounts, phone numbers and emails were left out.

News reports based on the data, first leaked to Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, highlighted the use of shell companies to hide money and led to the resignation of Iceland's prime minister. Mossack Fonseca has said it was hacked.