Panama Papers: Who's who?

Prime ministers, monarchs and presidents and family members are among those revealed to have used offshore entities

Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, walks out of an interview on Swedish television after being questioned about his involvement with a company called Wintris. Video: SVT


Mauricio Macri: president of Argentina (2015-present); mayor of Buenos Aires (2007-2015)

Argentine President Mauricio Macri appeared headed for a business career, working his way up under the tutelage of his father, Italian-born business tycoon Francisco Macri. But in 1991, he was kidnapped for ransom by federal police officers – a turning point that led him to politics. During his third term as president of the popular Boca Juniors soccer club, he founded the centre-right party Commitment to Change, then represented Buenos Aires in the congress from 2005 to 2007, was elected mayor in 2007 and elected president by a narrow margin in 2015, with promises to liberalize the economy and eliminate corruption.

Macri, his father Francisco and brother Mariano were directors of Fleg Trading Ltd, incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved in January 2009. In asset declarations in 2007 and 2008 when he was mayor of Buenos Aires, Macri did not disclose his connection to Fleg Trading. He declared a Merrill Lynch bank account in the US with $2.9 million in 2007 and $1.9 million in the same account in 2008. Macri also declared $158,000 in foreign assets in 2008, but did not specify their source or location.

Macri’s official spokesman Ivan Pavlovsky said that the Argentine president did not list Fleg Trading as an asset because he had no capital participation in the company. The company, used to participate in interests in Brazil, was related to the family business group. “This is why Maricio Macri was occasionally its director,” he said, reiterating that Macri was not a shareholder.

Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson: prime minister of Iceland (2013–present); Member of Parliament (2009–present); chairman of the Progressive Party (2009-present)

Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson is the prime minister of Iceland. A former journalist and radio personality, Gunnlaugsson helped lead a campaign against bank bailouts after the Icelandic financial crisis in 2008 and became chairman of the Progressive Party shortly thereafter. He entered parliament in 2009 and led the Progressives to victory in 2013, becoming at age 38 the nation’s youngest prime minister. His wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, is the daughter of a wealthy Toyota dealer in Iceland.

Asked if he had ever owned an offshore company in a television interview in March, Gunnlaugsson said no.

“Myself? No. Well, the Icelandic companies I have worked with had connections with offshore companies, even the – what’s it called? The worker’s unions. So it would have been through such arrangements, but I have always given all of my assets and that of my family up for taxes.”

A spokesman said in a subsequent statement that “the prime minister and his wife have adhered to Icelandic law, including declaring all assets, securities and income in Icelandic tax returns since 2008.”

Petro Poroshenko: president of Ukraine (2014-present); economic development and trade minister (2012)

Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s billionaire “chocolate king,” whose corporate empire includes automotive plants, a shipyard, a TV channel and the country’s largest candy company, won the presidential election of 2014 by a landslide, a result widely attributed to his political acumen. Poroshenko has adroitly shifted his political affiliations over the years and avoided being tainted by Ukraine’s long line of corrupt leaders and oligarchs. Although he vowed to oppose the oligarchs and “prevent the inappropriate influence of private interests on the state,” critics are still waiting for him to deliver. A supporter of the 2004 pro-Europe, pro-democracy Orange Revolution movement, he also has positioned himself as a nationalist who could pursue peaceful relations with Russia.

Ayad Allawi: vice-president of Iraq (2014-2015); interim prime minister of Iraq (2004-2005)

Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite born to privilege, was active in Iraq’s ruling Baath Party until 1971, when he settled in London where he developed ties with both the Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s M16 . In exile, he opposed Saddam Hussein, helped found an opposition party and survived a 1978 assassination attempt, which was widely believed to have been ordered by Hussein. Returning to Iraq, he was named prime minister in 2004 after the American-led coalition ended Hussein’s rule. Allawi has been active in Iraqi politics since, serving as vice president from 2014 until August, 2015.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud: king of Saudi Arabia (2015-present); crown prince (2012-2015)

Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud became King of Saudi Arabia in January 2015, assuming the throne after the death of his brother King Abdullah. He previously served as defence minister and deputy prime minister and was the governor of Riyadh, the country’s capital, from 1955 to 1960 and again from 1963 to 2011. He was named as heir to the throne in 2012.

Rami and Hafez Makhlouf: cousins of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

Brothers Rami and Hafez Makhlouf made a fortune exploiting family ties to their maternal first-cousin, Syrian President Bashar Assad, although they may have fallen out of favour in the last two years. For years, any foreign company seeking to do business in Syria had to be cleared by Rami, who controlled key economic sectors such as oil and telecommunications. Hafez, a general in charge of Syria’s intelligence and security apparatus, has been suspected of helping his older brother intimidate business rivals. Both were targets of international sanctions for their roles in Assad’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, although Hafez managed to unfreeze $4 million in Swiss accounts. Hafez lost his security post in 2014 amid rumours of feuding within the regime and is now believed to have fled to Belarus.

Family of Nawaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan

Controversy has long engulfed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family, including three of his four children – Mariam, Hasan and Hussain – over their riches from a network of businesses that include steel, sugar and paper mills and extensive international property holdings. At various times, depending on the political party in power, the Sharifs – one of Pakistan’s richest families – have been accused of corruption, ownership of illegal assets, tax avoidance and money laundering. Mariam, Hussain and their father have been detained on such charges, exiled to Saudi Arabia and also acquitted. When allegations first surfaced in 2000, a family member called them “completely wrong,” and declared: “This is a very religious family.” Hasan, who moved to London over 16 years ago, and Hussain have been running family businesses from abroad. Mariam reportedly is being groomed to take over leadership of her father’s political party.

Arkady and Boris Rotenberg: lifelong friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Billionaire brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg had the incredible good fortune of being childhood friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin. As teenagers, they bonded with Putin over Sambo, a Russian martial art, and judo. Arkady Rotenberg has insisted that they do not get preferential treatment from Putin, but during his tenure as Russian leader the brothers have amassed a multibillion dollar fortune in part through lucrative contracts with state and state-owned companies . In March 2014, they were placed under US sanctions for providing support to, and benefiting from, “Putin’s pet projects” including “approximately $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games”.

Sergey Roldugin: friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin

As young men in the late 1970s, Sergey Roldugin and Vladimir Putin became very close, “almost like brothers”, according to Roldugin. Putin went on to join the KGB and is now president of Russia. Roldugin gained fame as a world-class cellist, eventually becoming director of the St Petersburg State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire and artistic director of the St Petersburg House of Music. Throughout their lives, the two have remained close. Roldugin had a role in introducing Putin to his future wife Lyudmila. He is also the godfather of Putin’s oldest daughter, Mariya.

Credits: Research Editor: Emilia Díaz-Struck; Data Editor: Mar Cabra; Editors: Martha M. Hamilton and Marina Walker Guevara; Reporters: Delphine Reuter, Marcos García-Rey, Will Fitzgibbon, Richard Sia, Alexa Olesen, Ryan Chittum, Jake Bernstein; Researcher: Mago Torres; Fact-checkers: Richard Sia and Peter Smith