Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Panama Papers part of US plot to weaken Russia
Apr 08, 2016 12:46 AM EDT
Russian President Vladimir Putin is accusing the United States of plotting the controversial tax leak dubbed as 'Panama Papers' to weaken his country. The massive tax leak documents claim that the aides close to Putin have offshore dealings in an attempt to evade tax.
In a report by The New York Times, Putin dismissed the reports that his close associates moved around $2 billion via offshore accounts. This marks the first public statement of Putin over the matter. Although none of the accusations were aimed at him directly, the international coverage has focused on him.
He defended cellist Sergei P. Roldugin, a close friend of the Russian president who was named in the leaked papers. Roldugin is accused of hiding money from Russian state banks. Putin spoke in defense of his friend, noting that he is a minority shareholder in one of their companies "and makes some money out of it, but not billions of dollars." He continued to say that Roldugin's money is used to import musical instruments that were brought abroad, ABC News reported.
Daily Mail also reported that Putin said their opponents are concerned by the unity and consolidation of the Russian nation; thus, they are attempting to "rock us from within, to make us more pliant."
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner has spoken about the statements of Putin. He said the Panama Papers that came from law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The papers were then given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and a broader investigation has been launched.
Aside from Russia, the Panama Papers also exposed U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron has admitted that he had stakes form his father's offshore investment fund. In Argentina, a federal prosecutor has sought to open a criminal investigation into the businesses of President Mauricio Macri after the documents were leaked.