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News > Latin America

Why Is Ecuador's President Demanding the Release of All the Panama Papers?

Published 11 April 2016

Rafael Correa has called for a global campaign to demand journalists release all 11.5 million documents in the Panama Papers leak.

The Panama Papers scandal has been making many world leaders nervous, but not Ecuador's president.

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Rafael Correa took to Twitter Monday, challenging journalists involved in the massive leak to release all of the over 11.5 million documents that have linked influential people and politicians in a scam to hide assets in shell companies and offshore tax havens.

"We must make a global campaign to release all the Panama Papers," Correa tweeted Monday night.

Correa referred to an investigation by the local daily El Telegrafo, which found that prominent figures in Ecuador's opposition, including Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot and opposition legislator Andres Paez, were linked to companies registered in Panama.

Paez's brother, Alvaro Paez has 25 percent of the shares in the MetroValores Casa de Valores SA, whose main shareholder incorporated in Panama. Jose Nebot Saadi, brother of the longtime Guayaquil Mayor, was president and director of Summa Financial Corporation, which was dissolved in 2002.

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However the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which led the investigation in conjunction with select journalists from dozens of countries, has so far released only three names of Ecuadoreans accused of involvement in the scandal: current Attorney General Galo Chiriboga; former president of the Central Bank of Ecuador, Pedro Delgado; and Javier Molina, an ex-member of the National Intelligence Secretariat.

Marina Walker, coordinator of research ICIJ said that "all the names" would be published in early May. Days later, ICIJ director Gerard Ryle told Wired that they have no plans to release the entire Mossack Fonseca database.

According to Correa, the Ecuadorean journalists involved – all linked to right-wing publications – had the documents for close to a year, and had "not found anything" yet.

"They spent almost a year looking for something against the Ecuadorean government and found nothing."

Since its release on April 3, 2016, the allegations of corruption and tax evasion have rocked numerous governments and already forced Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson to resign. However only a small portion of the 11.5 million documents – 2.6 terabytes worth of information drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database – have been released, and only certain publications have been able to access the documents.

Whistleblowers WikiLeaks are among those who have criticized the form in which the ICIJ has handled the release of information.

Correa, who is known for his blunt criticism of media bias, called on citizens to demand the release of the documents.

"Now it's up to the citizens: let's demand all the information. The 'selective' fight against corruption is just ... more corruption!" Correa concluded.

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