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David Cameron still won't say whether his family does or will benefit from an offshore fund

British Prime Minister David Cameron is still leaving questions unanswered about the offshore fund set up by his late father Ian Cameron in Panama for "taxation purposes." Information about the fund Blairmore Holdings Inc. was made public in the massive leak of documents from the internal database of corporate law firm Mossack Fonseca (the Panama Papers).

The big question posed by the revelation is whether Cameron's family still has money in the fund, which has still not been directly answered.

Yesterday afternoon the Prime Minister's spokesperson told journalists, who asked whether the Cameron family still had money in a Panama offshore fund "That is a private matter. I will focus on what the government is doing." When Cameron was asked a similar question today by Sky News political editor Faisal Islam, he again failed to fully clarify the issue.

Cameron said that he himself doesn't have any offshore funds; but he does not say whether his family does or whether he or his family will benefit from Blairmore Holdings in the future.

These are very important questions. As Business Insider pointed out yesterday, if Ian Cameron did have assets outside of the UK they would have been administered in the territories in which they were registered – we don't know if there were any offshore assets and if there were, who they went to.

Earlier today Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an independent investigation to carried out into Cameron's family's tax affairs. He has not yet said whether he is satisfied with the answer Cameron gave Faisal Islam.

At: http://www.businessinsider.com/camerons-unanswered-offshore-questions-2016-4?r=UK&IR=T

Open Corporates leak: two more offshore accounts in Argentine President Mauricio Macri's name.

Just days after the record Panama Papers leak revealed the existence of a closed Bahamas account under Argentine President Mauricio Macri's name, a second such leak has located two more offshore accounts under his name.

According to Open Corporates - "the largest open database of companies in the world" according to its website - Mauricio Macri appears as founding director and vice president of Kagemusha SA, an offshore company established on May 11, 1981, in Panama. Kagemusha, like Fleg Trading (the Bahamas-based Macri family shell company uncovered in the Panama Papers leak), was established with his father Francisco Macri; but unlike Fleg Trading, which was closed in 2009, Kagemusha remains active.

The term Kagemusha is reminiscent of a 1980 film directed by Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, which tells the story of a petty criminal who assumes the identity of a dying landlord in order to avoid prosecution and ultimately usurps the man's property. In Japan, Kagemusha is used to denote a "political decoy."

The company, according to information obtained from Open Corporates, was registered by the Panamanian law firm of De La Guardia, Arosemena & Benedetti; Eloy Benedetti, who had an extensive career in Panamanian foreign relations until his death in 2000, is listed as a subscriber and treasurer. The law firm refused to comment.

Open Corporates also listed Macri as director in another offshore company: Latium Investment, which was established in Uruguay (a country known for its bank secrecy laws) and lists Macri's cousin, Jorge Macri, as co-director. Jorge Macri, the Mayor of Vicente López (an upscale Buenos Aires suburb), also refused to comment. The law firm of Kuzniecky & Co., which was listed in the leak as having prepared the shell company for the Macris, denied having done so or that Macri and his cousin have been listed as directors.

A source interviewed by Argentine business daily Ámbito Financiero confirmed the Open Corporates leak, however, adding that the shell company was created "to buy property in Uruguay."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.ambito.com/833875-otro-wiki-adelanta-conexiones-con-mas-sociedades-offshore&prev=search

Panamá Papers: Argentine President Mauricio Macri one of 5 current world leaders listed as a client.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri — who made "fighting corruption" his campaign battle horse last year — is listed as a client in the massive, 11 million page leak of documents from Panamanian corporate law firm Mossack Fonseca. The leak, known as the Panamá Papers, was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with media worldwide by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Mauricio Macri's name appears with his father Francisco and brother Mariano as a director of Fleg Trading Ltd. The shell company was incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved in 2009, when it was sold to a firm from Uruguay (a country known for its bank secrecy laws where the Macri family also has extensive interests). This was a financial connection Macri didn’t disclose on asset declarations when he was Mayor of Buenos Aires or as a candidate for President, as Argentine law requires.

His official spokesman, Iván Pavlovsky, said that the Argentine president didn't list Fleg Trading Ltd. as an asset because he had no capital participation in the company. The company, used to participate in interests in Brazil, was related to the family business group. "This is why Mauricio Macri was occasionally its director," he said, reiterating that Macri was not a shareholder.

Macri is one of only five current world leaders listed as a client of Mossack Fonseca, which establishes offshore shell companies for clients seeking to launder money and evade taxes. The other current world leaders listed are the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson; the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman Al-Saud; the President of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa Al-Nahyan; and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. Others, notably a number of close friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ian Cameron (the father of British Prime Minister David Cameron), are also listed.

Other Argentine nationals listed in the Panamá Papers are Néstor Grindetti, current Mayor of Lanús (a suburb of Buenos Aires) and former municipal Economy Minister while Macri was Mayor of Buenos Aires; Daniel Muñoz, who was former President Néstor Kirchner's private secretary during his 2003-07 administration; and Lionel Messi, the five-time Ballon d'Or winning Barcelona football forward who is currently facing tax evasion charges in Spain. The Boca Juniors football team, which Macri presided between 1995 and 2007, was also listed.

Some Macri administration officials have had similar activities outed in past leaks. President Macri's current Economy Minister, Alfonso Prat-Gay, was revealed by JP Morgan Argentina executive Hernán Arbizu in 2012 to have arranged the illegal transfer of over $1 billion from the sale of the late Amalia Fortabat's cement firm Loma Negra to offshore accounts from 2005 and 2008, as well as his own accounts. This was further corroborated by the 2013 SwissLeaks.

Like Macri himself, Prat-Gay had made a political career out of "fighting corruption."

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201604/12913-una-filtracion-a-nivel-mundial-relaciona-a-mauricio-macri-con-paraises-fiscales.html&prev=search

New prices, old wages: Argentine retail sales down 5.8% in March as recession deepens.

Retail sales in Argentina, Latin America's third-largest market, declined 5.8% in March compared to the same time a year ago. Sales declines were widespread, but were felt most acutely in appliances (-10.2%); building materials (-9.1%); confectioners (-8.4%); hardware (-7.8%); and home furnishings (-6.8%).

According to Osvaldo Cornide, head of the Argentine Medium Business Confederation (CAME), the decline was mainly due to the reduced purchasing power and accelerating inflation rates prevailing since right-wing President Mauricio Macri took office four months ago. Most economic consulting firms estimate that yearly inflation jumped from around 23% in November to 35% currently, and that inflation for all of 2016 may reach 50% before slowing.

"The 'new prices, old wages' effect was very strong in March," Cornide pointed out, "because most workers have not yet received their periodic raises and thus tended to experience sticker shock." Cornide added that the self-employed, who make up nearly 25% of Argentina's work force "were also affected; but as they face low demand, they have not been able to adjust their rates accordingly."

Consumer rights groups, meanwhile, are organizing a national consumer strike for the week between April 4 and 11.

The fall in retail sales deepened from a 4.5% decline registered in February, and 4.2% for the first quarter of 2016. While GDP figures for the first quarter have not yet been released, this trend almost certainly signals a decline in real GDP overall given that private consumption makes up 65% of Argentina's economy.

Private investment, which makes up another 20% of Argentine GDP, most likely declined considerably as well in the first quarter since both steel and cement sales declined 10% in February from the same time a year earlier.

Following pressure from the IMF, last week the Macri administration released long-delayed estimates for GDP which showed that the economy grew 2.1% in 2015. The data, moreover, showed that growth slowed from 3.5% in the third quarter (the last full quarter before he took office) to 0.9% in the fourth quarter, as Macri's austerity and devaluation decrees began to take effect. Macri had made the stagnant economy, which he erroneously described as "not growing in four years," a central campaign theme last year.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.infonews.com/nota/286417/por-los-incrementos-de-precios-en-marzo&prev=search

And: http://www.fxstreet.com/analysis/argentina-gdp-growth-slows-down-in-q4/2016/03/31/

Heavy rains scatter the poor in Asunción, Paraguay.

Three months after the Paraguay River overflowed its banks along Asunción, flooding continues to affect more than 100,000 inhabitants of the impoverished Bañados section of the Paraguayan capital.

Bañado Sur, a large stretch of low-lying land between the city and the river, was home to just a few families until around 30 years ago, “when many people came, to make a living from the garbage dump,” according to longtime area resident Néstor Colman. The area is a huge open-air dump where thousands of garbage pickers or “gancheros” collect recyclable materials on the streets, said Pérez, another of the evacuees interviewed, while the former have to pay nearly 600 dollars for a permit that allows them to sort through the rubbish in the dump.

“The local residents here treat us badly,” complained recycler Edgar Acuña, referring to the middle-class families in the neighhourhood where the shelters for the displaced were set up. “I tell them it’s better for them that I’m working rather than stealing from them,” he joked. One complaint is that he piles cardboard, glass, plastic and metal on the sidewalk, since he doesn’t have the space he had in his house in the Bañado, where he stored the materials before transporting them on his motorcycle cart to sell them.

“What I’m scared of is that more water will come,” Maria Nimia Falcón said, recalling the two floods in which she lost everything she had. She called for more help from the government, which the law already provides for, and “a decent house, in the Bañado if possible, because anywhere else we wouldn’t have work, it would be impossible to make a living.”

Her fear is justified by the continued threat posed by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the cyclical climate phenomenon blamed for the heavy rainfall that led to the overflowing of the river since November.
Meteorologists forecast further flooding “up to late July or early August,” according to David Avendaño, head of operations at the SEN emergency management agency.

The more than 20,000 families (100,000 people) who live in riverbank wetlands in Asunción are split between the Bañado Norte in the north, Chacarita in the centre, and Bañado Sur in the south. Of that total, 13,454 had to leave their homes and take refuge in 143 shelters, the SEN official said. SEN was created in 2005 to manage disasters, and answers to the presidency in this landlocked southern cone country of 7 million people.

Two decades without serious flooding encouraged rural migrants to build homes on even lower-lying land along the river, and prompted long-time residents to improve and expand their homes or buy more expensive household appliances all of which made the losses even worse.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/211803/heavy-rains-scatter-the-poor-in-asunci%C3%B3n

Morgan Freeman’s new Nat Geo series contemplates God, and what in God’s name some of us are doing.

You could look at The Story of God With Morgan Freeman as a sequel to The Bucket List. Smashing up expensive racing cars with Jack Nicholson is fun and all that; but what happens, you know, next?

The Story of God, a six-part National Geographic special that launches Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, lets Freeman explore an infinitely expansive subject with which he has long professed fascination: what exists out there beyond what we can tangibly identify through our five senses.

As the scope of the project suggests, this is not popcorn television. It requires the viewer to pay attention and offers rewards commensurate with that involvement. To confirm the obvious, Freeman doesn’t claim to have produced a definitive factual biography of the Almighty. Rather, he examines the historical and theological facets of humankind’s relationship with a perceived higher being.

The first episode deals with the afterlife, and how our perception of an afterlife shapes our behavior and our beliefs while life is still in progress.The second Sunday’s episode is “End of Days,” examining man’s fascination with the apocalypse. (Above: Freeman with a fragment from the book of Revelation.) Subsequent weeks, in order, tackle “Creation,” “Who is God?,” “Evil” and “Miracles.”

Freeman, who coproduced the series with Lori McCreary and James Younger, serves as host, narrator and a major presence.

At: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-hinckley/morgan-freemans-new-nat-g_b_9601568.html
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