Vladimir Putin Says Allegations in ‘Panama Papers’ Leak Are an American Plot to Overthrow Him
MOSCOW — The reverberations from a leaked trove of Panamanian documents rippled through several nations on Thursday, with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia calling the exposure of a proliferation of shell companies and tax havens an American plot, while Iceland picked a new prime minister and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain admitted that he had profited from an offshore trust.
After days of contention, Mr. Cameron admitted that he had earned money through an offshore trust established by his late father, who was named as a client of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the documents known as the Panama Papers.
Mr. Cameron told ITV News that he and his wife, Samantha, owned shares in Blairmore investment trust, before selling them for about £30,000, or $42,160, in 2010, the year he became prime minister.
The dividends were taxed, Mr. Cameron said, adding that he had never tried to hide the fact that his parents were wealthy. He had, however, been on the defensive over the issue since Monday, when his office initially described the question of his investments as a “private matter.”
The Panama Papers were also embarrassing for Mr. Cameron because they identified the British Virgin Islands, an overseas territory of Britain, as a major center of offshore activity. That prompted critics to call into question Mr. Cameron’s claims to be leading the international fight against tax evasion.
“David Cameron, who described the use of complex tax avoidance schemes as ‘morally wrong,’ has been forced to admit that he held shares in a fund now linked to tax avoidance,” said Tom Watson, the deputy leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party.
CreditPool photo by Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik / Kremlin
In Moscow, Mr. Putin dismissed reports based on the legal documents,which showed that some of his close associates had moved about $2 billion through offshore accounts, calling the accusations an American plot to try to destabilize Russia.
Mr. Putin, in his first public remarks on the subject, noted that none of the accusations were aimed at him directly, because he was not named in the papers, even if the international coverage has focused on him.
“Your humble servant is not there; there is nothing to talk about,” he said at a public forum for regional journalists in St. Petersburg that was broadcast live by state-run television.
Mr. Putin also defended the cellist Sergei P. Roldugin, an old, close friend who was named in the leaked papers. Mr. Roldugin was at the center of a scheme to hide money from Russian state banks, the reports said.
Mr. Putin said that Mr. Roldugin had tried his hand at business to support his love of music. “He is a minority shareholder in one of our companies and makes some money out of it, but not billions of dollars, of course,” Mr. Putin said. “That is nonsense.”
Mr. Roldugin used the money to import musical instruments, Mr. Putin said. “Almost all the money he earned
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