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Ecuador’s president faces tax investigation after Pandora Papers

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Ecuador’s president faces tax investigation after Pandora Papers

Ecuador’s attorney general is investigating President Guillermo Lasso after an opposition politician filed allegations of tax fraud against the president on the basis of the Pandora Papers.

There was no immediate comment from Lasso, who insists that his tax record is clean. He did not show up to testify this week before the legislature, which has launched a separate probe into his offshore finances in light of the revelations.

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In Ecuador, the secret files from 14 companies that provide offshore financial services showed that former banker Lasso, who took office as president in May, had ties to offshore companies and trusts including in Panama and the U.S. state of South Dakota.

The investigation by The Post and the ICIJ found that a burgeoning American trust industry is increasingly sheltering the assets of international millionaires and billionaires by promising levels of protection and secrecy that rival or surpass those offered in overseas tax havens. That shield, which is near-absolute, has insulated the industry from meaningful oversight and allowed it to forge new footholds in U.S. states.

The inquiry by a commission of the National Assembly of Ecuador this month will look into whether Lasso broke a 2017 law that bars presidential candidates and public officials from holding assets in foreign tax havens.

The complaint that led to the second probe, by the attorney general’s office, came from a former presidential hopeful and Indigenous leader, Yaku Pérez. He urged authorities on Thursday to examine allegations of tax evasion linked to offshore firms, noting that the cache of records also named Lasso’s wife and children.

But the 65-year-old president has said he ended his involvement in the firms identified in the Pandora Papers when he ran for head of state again. (He had previously run for president twice.) He is reported to have said in a letter to the legislature that he would speak to lawmakers at the presidential palace once he was aware of all the allegations made in the case.

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Ecuador’s president faces tax investigation after Pandora Papers