Panama Papers NZ: Who are the Central and South American clients?

We've been looking through tens of thousands of Panama Papers and discovered a number of interesting overseas clients of Mossack Fonseca who are using trusts based in New Zealand.

Asaf Zanzuri is named in the Panama Papers as having set up a trust in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

Among them are wealthy Mexican and Ecuadorian bankers, and two Colombian car dealers.

Several other individuals based in Central and South America stand out.

Asaf Zanzuri

One of them is a security firm chief executive who brokered a deal to sell drones to the Mexican government.

Asaf Zanzuri, boss of Mexican firm Balam Security, was the middleman in a deal between the Mexican government and Israeli defence company Aeronautics to buy the drones last year.

The Dominator XP was to be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering on drug cartels operating in Mexico.

At the same time - February 2015 - Mr Zanzuri used Mossack Fonseca New Zealand to establish the "Sapphire Trust".

Rodriguez Ruiz, another employee of Balam, also set up the "Diamond Trust" during the same period.

Mr Zanzuri provided an Israeli passport.

A $US187 phone bill was proof of his address in Cuajimalpa - one of the most expensive and exclusive areas of Mexico City.

In a letter written in Spanish, he told Mossack Fonseca NZ that he brings Mexico the “most advanced, worldwide security, intelligence and training”.

Carlos Dorado, Luis Doporto and Juan Armando Hinojosa

Another client of Mossack Fonseca NZ was Carlos Dorado the vice-president of Italcambio – a Venezuelan bank. He and Mexican lawyer Luis Doporto set up the "Abbotsford Trust".

Last year they used the trust and a Dutch incorporated company Neuchatel Holdings to buy a Mexican pharmaceutical company.

Unusually, their intentions were clearly laid out in emails between Roger Thompson – at Bentleys Mossack Fonseca’s New Zealand agent - and his executive assistant Daniel Leon.

Mexican media have reported that Mr Doporto was loaned $US90m to buy Marzam, the country’s second largest pharmaceutical distributor, by the family who own the top distributor.

Mr Doporto comes up time and time again in the Panama Papers, and was a valued customer of Mossack Fonseca New Zealand.

He also has powerful connections in his home country. He created a New Zealand trust for Juan Armando Hinojosa, who is known as the “favourite contractor” of President Pena Nieto.

Asked about the role of Bentleys in New Zealand, Mossack Fonseca agent Roger Thompson said: “Our due diligence process is of a high standard and includes verification of identity and residence from independent sources. We also typically obtain a report from a third party such as Thomson Reuters World-Check. If anything unusual is identified, additional information will be requested.”

He noted that Bentleys complies with all NZ laws including anti money laundering laws and added: “We do not assist people to illegally hide assets. Trust deeds are generally confidential documents which are not publicly available. However whenever requested, we will provide copies of trust deeds to the Inland Revenue Department. The use of trusts and people’s rights to keep their business and personal affairs private and confidential is legitimate and normal."

Reporting team: Andrea Vance, Gyles Beckford, Jane Patterson, Jessica Mutch, Lee Taylor, Nicky Hager and Patrick O’Meara

The investigation into the Panama Papers New Zealand is a journalistic collaboration by reporters from ONE News, RNZ News and investigative journalist Nicky Hager. It has been carried out with the assistance of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the German newspaper Süddeutshe Zeitung.