‘Panama Papers’ Whistleblower Says Russia ‘Wants Me Dead’
The whistleblower behind the “Panama Papers” which revealed major tax evasion and fraud around the world said he feared Russian reprisals, in an interview published on Saturday by the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
The magazine quoted him under his pseudonym John Doe as saying he had evidence of financial wrongdoing by senior Russian officials and their allies who helped fund the war in Ukraine.
Asked by Spiegel if he feared for his life, he replied: “It is a risk I live with, given that the Russian government has expressed the fact that they want me dead.”
When Spiegel asked John Doe about tax havens used by “strongmen in autocratic regimes”, he referred to the alleged role they play in Russia, whose leaders deny breaking the law.
Russian President Vladimir “Putin is more of a threat to the United States than Hitler ever was, and shell companies are his best friend,” he said.
“Front companies funding the Russian military are what are killing innocent civilians in Ukraine as Putin’s missiles target shopping malls.”
He said anonymous companies “make these horrors and more possible by removing accountability from society. But without accountability, society cannot function.”
He said state-funded Russian channel RT aired a two-part Panama Papers docudrama featuring a ‘John Doe’ character “who suffered a torture-induced head injury during the credits of ‘opening”.
“However weird and tacky, it wasn’t subtle,” he said.
“We have seen others with links to offshore accounts and tax justice resort to murder, such as in the tragedies involving Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak,” referring to investigative journalists killed in Malta and Slovakia.
In what was billed as his first interview since the publication of the Panama Papers in 2016, John Doe said he had no plans to come out of the blanket of anonymity.
“The Panama Papers involve so many different transnational criminal organizations, some of which have ties to governments, that it’s hard to imagine how he could be sure of identifying me,” he said.
The Panama Papers were one of many leaked financial documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Their revelations caused the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister and paved the way for the ousting of the Pakistani leader.