Argentine prosecutor demands investigation by judge on President Mauricio Macri's connection with offshore companies
An Argentine prosecutor requested a judge to investigate President Mauricio Macri's connection with tax evasion on offshore companies following the leaks on the "Panama Papers" stirring a global outrage, putting some world leaders under fire.
Four decades of documents, until December last year, had been leaked from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in setting up offshore companies, has triggered similar investigations across the world.
Macri has claimed that he did not have a stake in the offshore company named in the "Panama Papers," while also reminding that he was not legally obliged to declare his connection.
The president said he was simply the director of a company, created by his father to make investments in Brazil, known as Fleg Trading Ltd., which is now closed.
Given that such firms are often used to launder money and evade taxes, critics say he owes a more thorough explanations of the alleged connection with the offshore company, Kagemusha SA.
"As a first step, it is necessary to check if Mauricio Macri maliciously failed to complete his tax declaration," state prosecutor Federico Delgado wrote in his appeal to Judge Sebastian Casanello, noting that the crime can carry a sentence of 15 days to two years.
A government spokesman, when asked about the prosecutor's request, said he had already made it clear that no wrongdoing was committed, Casanello must now decide if there is enough evidence to open an investigation.
A lawmaker for the opposition Front for Victory Party, Norman Dario Martinez, said "Macri's participation as director and vice president of two companies in the Bahamas and Panama is clear, proved and admitted" adding that such places are generally "used for money laundering and tax evasion."
Millions of leaked documents showed politicians and business figures having offshore accounts or account in shell banks, with the first resignation coming from former Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, for hiding millions of dollars in shell banks.
Opposition lawmakers in Argentina are calling for the resignation of the head of the Argentine anti-corruption office Laura Alonso, who is reported to be a member of Macri's party.
Alonso said that creating a company in a tax haven was not a crime.
"She came out immediately defending the president when her role is to investigate whether an act of corruption was carried out," the Front for Victory said in a statement.