By BBN Staff: Lord Michael Ashcroft, the billionaire Belizean investor, has denied any involvement with Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law-firm at the heart of the “Panama Papers” leak.
Described as an “unprecedented” leak, the papers constitute some 11.5 million files from the fourth biggest offshore law firm in the world, which the Guardian says “show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes”.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) alleges that Belize Corporation Services (BCS), a subsidiary of Ashcroft’s BCB Holdings, which also owns the Belize Bank Ltd. and Belize Bank International Ltd., “began using Mossack Fonseca to provide shell corporations for its clients in 2006 when Ashcroft was in the U.K House of Lords”.
“In 2006, Belize Bank approached Mossack Fonseca about “doing some business together.” According to an email sent in November 2013, Belize Bank International established a new company whose owners were the Panama firm’s founders, Jurgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca and partner Christopher Zollinger. The new firm was called M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited and cooperated with BCS in creating companies and acting as registered agents in Belize,” the documents revealed.
Ashcroft, through a spokesman, said it is “entirely false” that he had “either personally, or through a corporate entity in some way connected to him . . . ‘partnered’ or ‘done business’ with Mossack Foncesa”.
“These allegations are completely untrue, and the events as described never happened. The records upon which you claim to rely for those allegations either do not exist or have been falsified,” Ashcroft added.
Other documents leaked in the ‘Panama Papers’ also further implicate football superstar Lionell Messi and his father, who are currently on indictment in Spain, of laundering money through shell companies in Belize.
So far no names directly linked to Belize other than Ashcroft have been named in the ‘Panama Papers’ but with the volume of documents leaked it’s a safe bet that in the weeks to come much more information will make its way to the press.
The implication also hurts Belize as it tries to recover from the reeling effects of “de-risking” and constant labeling as a tax-haven.
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