“Millions of leaked documents and the biggest journalism partnership in history have uncovered financial secrets of 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists and murderer”, states the ICIJ.
“The secret documents expose offshore dealings of the King of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The files also detail financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial minister of propaganda” and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey and other nations”.
According to Expresso newspaper, which is part of the consortium, the three Portuguese people involved are former ministers Nuno Morais Sarmento (PSD) and Manuel Pinho (PS) and former socialist deputy Vitalino Canas.
The report by Expresso reveals that Nuno Morais Sarmento, currently vice president of the PSD party, 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 had 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.
Nuno Morais Sarmento, a lawyer, was a minister in the governments of Durão Barroso and Santana Lopes; Vitalino Canas, a lawyer, was a socialist deputy between 2002 and 2019, secretary of state in the governments of António Guterres and PS spokesman during the leadership of José Sócrates; and Manuel Pinho, an economist who was administrator of BES, was Minister of Economy between 2005 and 2009, during the government of Sócrates, and is currently a professor at Columbia University, in the United States.
Lusa attempted to contact Manuel Pinho and Nuno Morais Sarmento, but this has not been possible so far. Vitalino Canas said that he provided clarifications to Expresso, having nothing more to add.
The three Portuguese in the Pandora Papers provided clarifications to Expresso. 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 to declare to the tax authorities from anywhere” and Vitalino Canas assures that the case referred to is inserted in the practice of law “under Portuguese law”.
In the ICIJ research map, another 19 Portuguese-speaking politicians are identified, nine in Angola, nine in Brazil and one in Mozambique.
The investigation reveals “the inner workings of an underground economy that benefits the richest and most influential at the expense of everyone else”.
The Investigation denounces that “many of the powerful actors who could help end the tax haven system are instead benefiting from it – hiding assets in shell companies and funds, while their governments do little to slow the global flow of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations”.
The ICIJ – which in 2016 published the “Panama Papers” on financial havens – says it has based this new investigation on an “unprecedented leak”, involving nearly two million documents, worked by 600 journalists, the “greatest partnership in the history of the journalism".
Journalists, technology and time were all necessary to analyse the millions of documents for over a year.