City law firm Simmons & Simmons has been named in the Panama Papers leak, after 11.5 million confidential documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Simmons is named in a document from 2006 as a legal adviser alongside Mossack Fonseca on advice given to investment fund Blairmore Holdings, where Ian Cameron – the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron – was a director. Blairmore Holdings has a registered office the same building as Mossack Fonseca, in Arango Orillac Building in Panama City, and Simmons & Simmons has been the investment fund’s principal English law adviser.
The investment fund, named after the Cameron family’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire, was run from the Bahamas and The Guardian newspaper has claimed Blairmore has never paid tax on its UK profits because of its tax arrangements.
The leak has revealed some 12 world leaders, including close associates of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, and 143 politicians have used the Panama law firm to avoid tax in developed countries. The leak puts the link between international and offshore law firms under the microscope.
Mossack Fonseca said in a statement: ‘It is legal and common for companies to establish commercial entities in different jurisdictions for a variety of legitimate reasons, including conducting cross-border mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, estate planning, personal safety, restructuring and pooling of investment capital from different jurisdictions in neutral legal and tax regimes that does not benefit or disadvantage any one investor.’
The firm said its services are regulated on multiple levels, often by overlapping agencies and has a strong compliance record.
‘In addition, we have always complied with international protocols… to assure as is reasonably possible, that the companies we incorporate are not being used for tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist finance or other illicit purposes.’
For more on the Panama Papers see: ‘Guest post: The Panama Papers – why it’s very possible the behaviour is criminal.’