20:42 GMT25 October 2020
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    The chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee said that the new set of documents released by the publishers of the "Panama Papers" represents normal legal activities almost as a plot against the fundamental principles of democracy.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Materials from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about Russian companies, based on the so-called Panama Papers, a leaked offshore database, describe legal commercial activities, the chairman of the upper house of the Russian legislature's Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, told Sputnik.

    US based ICIJ published its materials based on the leaked database of powerful individuals’ and corporations’ offshore activities, on Sunday. The materials said Russian energy company Sibur cooperated with the shipping firm Navigator, in which US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has a stake. The ICIJ also said that VTB bank had funded an investment company, DST Global, founded by Russian businessman Yuri Milner, which allowed the fund to purchase a stake in Twitter in 2011. Also, Gazprom Investholding, a subsidiary of Russia's state-run Gazprom, has funded an offshore company which has made a joint investment with DST Global in Facebook, the document said.

    "The normal legal commercial activities are described, which are represented almost as a plot against the fundamental principles of democracy, though the exaggerated emotions and vague language," Kosachev said.

    Referring to the text, Kosachev noted, that VTB was not one of the "Kremlin-owned firms" but a major bank, partially owned by the government. The parliamentarian also mocked the phrase that VTB had "quietly directed" $191 million into DST Global.

    "Apparently, one should direct [funds] ‘unquietly’ in order not to be confronted about ties with the Kremlin," Kosachev said.

    The parliamentarian also expressed bewilderment about the phrase that the investment fund "used the money" to buy a share in Twitter.

    Also, in Kosachev’s point of view, the materials concerning Gazprom and its subsidiaries were "difficult to understand."

    Alexei Chepa, the deputy head of the Russian Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Sputnik, that the "wish to make money" could be behind the participation of the Russian companies in investments in Twitter and Facebook.

    "This has nothing to do with politics, this is business, commerce," Chepa said.

    The Paradise Papers include around 13.4 million leaked documents from Appleby, a "prestigious offshore law firm, and files from the trust company Asiaciti, as well as from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions, the ICIJ said on Sunday.

    The ICIJ is known for having released the well-publicized Panama Papers last year. The documents included thousands of leaked files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which have revealed alleged illegal finance practices of officials and public figures from various countries. The claims made in the documents have been dismissed by many officials mentioned in them. Mossack Fonseca has refused to confirm that the leaked papers were authentic, although it claimed that it had been hacked.

    In late October, Appleby said it had suffered a data security incident in 2016 that had led to some of its files being compromised.


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