[World News ★★★]
(P1) A massive document leak apparently shows how friends of Vladimir Putin hid about $2 billion in secret, offshore accounts—money that likely ended up benefiting Putin’s family, the Guardian reports. The documents from Mossack Fonseca, an offshore law firm in Panama, show wealthy Russians moving money through Russia, Switzerland, and Cyprus in ways that generated vague “consultancy” charges and other payments worth millions of dollars. “This is not a business, this is creating the appearance of business in order to continually move and hide assets,” says a money-laundering expert. The deals also involve Putin’s best friend, cellist Sergei Roldugin—who seems to control at least $100 million in assets—and the Igora ski resort, where Putin is said to reside.
(P2) The scheme revolves around a bank that’s closely linked to Putin and his allies. The bank, Bank Rossiya, apparently received huge, unsecured loans from Russian state-owned banks and funneled billions into offshore transactions. About $1 billion went through a shell company created by Mossack Fonseca; among other things, the company bought a $6 million yacht and loaned $11.3 million to the owner of the Igora resort. But none of the alleged players have admitted to anything. “Guys, to be honest, I am not ready to give comments now,” says Roldugin, who mysteriously owns 3.2% of Bank Rossiya. “These are delicate issues.” The so-called “Panama Papers” also link other world leaders to Mossack Fonseca shell companies, including Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Icelandic PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Gawker reports.
VOCABULARY: offshore, vague, consultancy, money-laundering, scheme, unsecured, funneled, yacht, alleged
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- What is your opinion about people hiding money to avoid taxes and using it for illegal activities?
- Should the law firm (Mossack Fonseca) involved be held responsible and prosecuted? Why or why not?
- Other world leaders and some of their family members and politicians throughout the world were involved in hiding money. Do you think they should be held responsible and prosecuted for hiding money? Why or why not?
EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:
What do the following expressions or phrases mean?
- Ended up (P1)
- State-owned (P2)
- So-called (p2)