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Argentine president denies 'malicious omission' after Panama leak

Friday, April 8, 2016 - 07:26

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Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Thursday he made no "malicious omission" from his mandatory asset declarations as a public official, after the so-called Panama Papers revealed his offshore financial interests.

[BUENOS AIRES] Argentine President Mauricio Macri said Thursday he made no "malicious omission" from his mandatory asset declarations as a public official, after the so-called Panama Papers revealed his offshore financial interests.

"I did not receive any payment for acting as a director (of offshore companies). Tomorrow I will present myself before the court with all information necessary for the judge to verify that what I have done is correct," he said in a televised address.

The conservative president's new denial of wrongdoing came after a federal prosecutor opened an investigation of his finances.

"I am calm. I have obeyed the law. I have nothing to hide," Mr Macri said.

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"I have sent the papers to the anti-corruption office to investigate. But tomorrow I will present to the justice system something called a 'declaration of certainty.' With all that information the judge will see that I've told the truth. I'm at the disposition of any judge."

The Panama Papers - millions of documents on offshore dealings leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca - have cast a spotlight on the secret finances of a host of powerful politicians, celebrities and sports stars.

Macri, the face of a budding right-wing resurgence in Latin America, is listed as a director at two offshore companies, unlike Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping, for example, who have been implicated only via their inner circles.

Argentine federal prosecutor Federico Delgado said he had asked a judge to request information from the national tax authority and anti-corruption office to determine whether Macri "omitted, with malicious intent, to complete his sworn declaration" of assets, a requirement for Argentine public officials.

The conservative president is on the board of directors of two offshore firms - one registered in the Bahamas and the other in Panama.

He did not list either in his financial declarations when he became Buenos Aires mayor in 2007 or president last December.

Mr Macri, who vowed to fight corruption during his presidential campaign, has shaken up Argentina since taking office with a flurry of free-market reforms aimed at undoing the legacy of his leftist predecessors Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.

Offshore entities, of themselves, are not illegal. But they can be used to launder money or hide assets from tax authorities in other countries.

AFP

For more coverage of the Panama Papers, visit bt.sg/panama_papers

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