President Vladimir Putin, in his first public comments on the allegations, described revelations his associates laundered money through shell accounts as an attempt to destabilize Russia.
As we have reported, close associates of Putin along with Bank Rossiya, a Russian bank that has been blacklisted by the U.S. and the EU, laundered hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Panama Papers. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which has access to the documents from Mossack Fonseca, alleged that Sergey Roldugin, a close friend of Putin, is listed as the owner of offshore companies that have obtained payments from other companies worth tens of millions of dollars. More on the ICIJ’s allegations:
It’s possible Roldugin, who has publicly claimed not to be a businessman, is not the true beneficiary of these riches. Instead, the evidence in the files suggests Roldugin is acting as a front man for a network of Putin loyalists—and perhaps for Putin himself.
The Russian president is never named in the files. Not all the actions described in the Panama Papers, and attributed to other prominent figures, are illegal. Indeed, as Brooke Harrington noted, “the real scandal is what is legal.”