The Latest: Serb celebrities named in offshore reports


BERLIN >> The Latest on the publication by a coalition of media outlets of an investigation into offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

A known soccer player, a fashion designer whose dresses are worn by first lady Michelle Obama and 16 other mostly business figures are on a list of prominent Serbs who used the services of law firm Mossack Fonseca to create offshore companies in various tax havens.

The Belgrade-based KRIK network investigating crime and corruption, which issued the list on Tuesday after going through documents leaked from the Panama-based law firm, says Darko Kovacevic had officially earned about $2,000 a month while playing for Spanish club Real Sociedad during the 2006-2007 season.

The leaked documents, however, show the club had paid Kovacevic $1.4 million that season to his offshore account. That means that both the club and Kovacevic had avoided paying full taxes in Spain, KRIK says.

Fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic had a firm in British Virgin Islands, KRIK says, adding that the ownership of a shell company is not a crime, but that it can be used for money laundering or evading taxes.

1:15 p.m.

Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson is defying calls for his resignation as opponents plan a second day of mass protests outside the island nation's parliament building.

The prime minister and his wife have been linked to an offshore company that may represent a severe conflict of interest with his official role.

A wide array of opposition groups are planning protests Tuesday evening seeking new elections.

Parliament was not in session but deliberations on the crisis are expected to resume later this week.

News reports have alleged that Gunnlaugsson and his wife set up a company in the British Virgin Islands with the help of a Panamanian law firm at the center of a massive tax evasion leak. He denies doing anything illegal and says all taxes were paid.


11:50 a.m.

Germany's justice minister is proposing setting up a national "transparency register" that would list the real beneficiaries of letter-box companies — but only those set up in the country itself.

Heiko Maas' proposal Tuesday to expand national money-laundering legislation followed a massive leak of documents from a Panama-based law firm. German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Tuesday that 28 German banks used the company's services to set up or administer over 1,200 shell companies.

Maas conceded that German legislation could only apply to companies set up in Germany, which has pushed for tax havens to open up. He said: "Those who are pushing for this at the international level have to have corresponding national rules themselves."

Maas added: "I can imagine many countries considering this."


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