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Denials, Outrageous over Panama Papers; Greece Sends First Migrants Back to Turkey; Paris' Mayor on Europe's Terrorism Fight; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 4, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: tax authorities around the world are leaping into action, as millions of leaked documents
allege money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, all the way up to the pinnacle of wealth and power.
We uncover the details with the investigative reporter who helped expose this story.
Plus: as Greece deports its first boat load of migrants back to Turkey, I ask the head of International Organization for Migration, is this really
the right solution?
And the mayor of Paris tells me why Europe can never surrender to terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE HIDALGO, MAYOR OF PARIS (through translator): The basis for our societies, for all our modern democracies, is humanism. And this is really
what we are holding at the heart of our thinking. This is our main weapon against terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It's one of the biggest data leaks in history, 11.5 million documents, blowing the lid off some of the world's most powerful people and their
offshore billions. The files from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were passed to a major German newspaper and shared with other
Offshore accounts aren't illegal but often they can be used to hide from tax authorities and launder ill-gotten gains. Mossack Fonseca calls it
theft and denies any wrongdoing.
Quote, "Nothing we've seen in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggests we've done anything illegal and that's very much in keeping with
the global reputation we've built up over the past 40 years of doing business the right way, right here in Panama."
Now in total, 12 national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates, who have been implicated. The Kremlin has denounced
accusations that the documents reveal an alleged $1 billion money laundering ring involving close associates of the Russian president,
The Kremlin calls that "another series of fibs."
Another cache puts FIFA back into the spotlight. And tonight the U.S. Justice Department and tax authorities in several nations from Australia to
the United Kingdom say they are looking into these revelations.
Now Gerard Ryle is the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which is the organization that received and
investigated the leaks and he's joining me now from Washington.
AMANPOUR: So welcome to the program.
Can I ask you how you got this?
Is it classic whistleblowing?
Or what can you tell me about this cache that you got?
GERARD RYLE, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS: Well, the cache was actually obtained originally by a German
journalist called Bastian Obermayer from "Suddeutsche Zeitung," newspaper in Germany.
He got it from an anonymous source, who claimed to be basically concerned about what he or she saw in the documents. And of course, the documents
started as a trickle but turned into a flood, a torrent in the end.
AMANPOUR: So is the source from Mossack Fonseca?
RYLE: Well, it's an anonymous source. The person claimed that their life was in danger if they ever became known as the source for this material
because, of course, there are so many powerful people that are being revealed here.
AMANPOUR: So before we get to the people, do you have any doubt -- and then tell me about your role in helping shepherd this into the light -- do
you have any doubt about what has been uncovered?
Are you 100 percent convinced of the accuracy and authenticity?
RYLE: Yes, we're convinced because there was a smaller leak before we managed to get these documents. There was actually a smaller leak of
documents from Mossack Fonseca. And in fact, that leak was given to the German government. In fact, the German government bought the information
and then, subsequently, other governments around the world, including the British government and the U.S. government, were offered those documents.
We were lucky enough to get access to that material. We cross-referenced that material with this material. And of course, it all matched perfectly.
And the other thing you've got to I guess understand here is that it's almost impossible to make up 11.5 million documents. And of course when we
went around the world to confront the people who were named, they all confirmed that, in fact, yes, the documents were real.
AMANPOUR: So it is a huge amount. And people are wondering whether more is going to come out.
AMANPOUR: But more to the point, let me just ask you to sort of parse this idea of potential illegality. So obviously, as you know and everybody
knows, offshore accounts aren't always illegal.
Do you -- do you believe and do you have actual, you know, sort of evidence that these accounts and these revelations show illegality?
And if so, where?
Where can you direct us to that?
RYLE: Well, there's no doubt that illegality is occurring here. Mossack Fonseca may be correct when they say that they are an innocent party here.
But you've got to remember that Mossack Fonseca don't always even know who the end client always is.
In fact, it's only when the end client turns out to be on a sanctions list, for instance, that they actually find out that that's the client they're
They claim that, in fact, their clients are the major banks and the major accountancy firms and the major law firms around the world that are using
their services. And it's clear from the documents that Mossack Fonseca don't always know who the ultimate beneficial owner of these companies are.
AMANPOUR: So let me run by a few of the responses that have trickled out today.
So from the Kremlin, as we've already said, they deny it and they say it's just another part of this web of lies about President Putin, basically
saying, "To us, it's clear, that the main goal of such reports was and is our president, especially in the context of upcoming elections."
Now on the other side of that political fence, Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, has tweeted, "Having become president, I'm not
participating in management of my assets, having delegated this responsibility to consulting and law firms."
What's wrong with that?
RYLE: Well, I guess, in some of these cases, for instance, in Poroshenko's case, he did not declare that he had the offshore company. So that's an
the issue if you're an elected politician.
With Putin, there's no doubt that these people are very close to Putin. One of them is the godfather of his child. And one of these offshore
companies is the owner a ski resort where Putin's daughter got married.
And we're seeing some very strange figures in the documents, where loans of hundreds of millions of dollars are actually given to people and there
doesn't appear to be any repayment of these loans.
And you also see loans that are given in U.S. dollars but then repaid in rubles. Now if you were going to invade Crimea, you would know that the
ruble is about to go down. So it's a very strange way of doing business. And I certainly think that these documents, if nothing else, they raise an
awful lot of questions.
AMANPOUR: Well, questions that some would like to see answered. For instance, the president of France. Let's just say -- let's just play what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): It's thanks to those who come forward that we now have this information. These
whistle-blowers are doing work that is useful for the international community. They take risks and they need to be protected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that's the president of France's belief.
So what stands out for you?
Or rather, what do you think the consequences of this are going to be?
RYLE: Well, I think the biggest consequence here is that this is a massive blow to secrecy. And the offshore world really only has one product and
that is secrecy. And when you take away that product, then they no longer have anything for sale.
But I think for years and years, have been getting away with the secrecy. And we're also seeing in the documents, that every time the governments and
authorities try to crack down, they're finding new ways to get around those obstacles or barriers.
AMANPOUR: Gerard Ryle, so much more to talk about and we'll follow it and we'll come back to you. Thank you so much indeed.
RYLE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now it's claimed in the Panama Papers that offshore funding is literally fueling the Syrian War for instance, with illegal sale of jet
fuel to Assad's air force. That war has triggered mass migration that Europe is struggling to deal with.
And some 200 migrants were returned to Turkey from Greece under new E.U. laws that go into effect today. Most of those were meant from Pakistan.
In Germany, a handful of Syrian refugees arrived by plane, which is also part of this E.U. resettlement agreement.
Just days ago, the Turkish president told me that closer cooperation on this issue is already working.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): With the timely sharing of the intelligence, with a joint cooperation with Greece,
we can see a significant drop in the amount of refugees trying to cross over to the European continent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But it's also come under a lot of criticism.
Is this deal workable or even legal?
William Lacy Swing is director general of the International Organization for Migration and he joins me from Switzerland.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, Ambassador.
Is this something that your organization approves of?
Do you believe it's humane and, indeed, legal?
WILLIAM LACY SWING, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IOM: I would have to say that we share some of the same concerns that --
SWING: -- others on your program have expressed, including our traditional partner, UNHCR as well as Amnesty International. There are a number of
concerns, the primary one being whether there are going to be the legal protections that these people should be provided, who are in desperate
There's a whole mechanical quality to it. You have to do simultaneous measures at the same time, resettlement to Europe, relocation and none of
these are going very well.
I'm concerned, also, there's a large group of non-refugee migrants there, who are not covered by any international legal framework, who have sort of
been left out of the picture. And we're concerned to see that they get their vulnerabilities and needs addressed at the same time.
So I think we're in a difficult situation. Europe should have seen this coming. We've had unbroken conflict and disaster from the Western Bulge of
Africa to the Himalayas and, clearly, particularly with the war in Syria, now in its sixth year, one should have known that people were going to move
out of desperation.
AMANPOUR: So what should --
SWING: (INAUDIBLE) migrants in a continent of 500 million should have been manageable.
AMANPOUR: Tell me how. Because everybody says, yes, it's all very well for you to say it but we've got a million migrants/refugees who have
already entered Europe over the last 12-plus months.
How would that have been manageable?
SWING: Well, you have a million migrants in Lebanon, which has a population of only 5 million. It could have been manageable if the union
had functioned as it was expected to do.
I think when Chancellor Merkel made a very courageous and visionary decision to open borders to these poor people, I think one could have
assumed that most of the 27 others would have followed. In fact, only Sweden and Austria followed. So in effect, the whole burden was left on
one or two countries.
AMANPOUR: And that doesn't -- sorry to interrupt you but we have only a certain amount of time.
That doesn't look like it's changing. And in fact, a lot of those countries have closed their borders now. I want you to comment on some of
the things that your own organization has said, that we need to manage this, because you have, quote, "the right wing taking power with
opportunist politicians creating careers out of this."
And another of your organization's officials have said, you know, sending all illegal migrants back to Turkey will, quote, "strengthen criminal
groups and push refugees into the hands of ISIS."
SWING: Well, in effect, restrictive policies are achieving the opposite objective. It, in fact, is giving the smugglers and the traffickers a lot
more room to maneuver. It's kind of a subsidization, if you will, of smuggling, which is most unfortunate.
But I think in Europe now, we've got to see them overcome refugee amnesia, from the period of 1951 when we were created, to take European refugees
abroad; systemic paralysis and I think also to get used to being a continent of destination rather than just a continent of origin peopling
On the other hand, I think we need to take a longer-term look at this. Out of this could come some positive things. They are pushing their way toward
a more comprehensive, long-term migration and asylum policy. They are putting their relations with Turkey on a longer-term footing.
And let's hope that most of them will become, officially, refugee resettlement countries with respectable annual quotas. Those would be
positive outcomes. But right now, we're still a good ways away from that.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, you know, we reported that most of those who have been deported today were Pakistani men and not the sort of Syrians who
everybody's been focusing on.
How do you see the sort of nationalities or the breakdown of the deportees proceeding?
SWING: Well, I don't have exact figures on it but it is certainly a mixed group, primarily Syrian but there are also probably Afghans, Iraqis,
perhaps, as you say, some Pakistanis.
And we've kind of forgotten about the flows across the Central Mediterranean, which are coming out of impoverished areas and areas in
conflict in Africa, which is still an issue that needs to be resolved.
And European Union has made a strong effort in that regard.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Swing, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
AMANPOUR: And coming up, the mayor of Paris takes on two of the greatest global threats right now. Anne Hidalgo talks terror and climate change
when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
The E.U. plans to send some migrants back to Turkey starting today. It's closely tied to the anxiety and fear of terror attacks, first in Paris and
now in Brussels.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, while trying to prevent another one there and rebuild her capital's place as a major tourist destination, has today
also announced that she's running for the leadership of the group of world cities developing new climate policy.
So I asked her how she balances all those priorities with her city still reeling from the November attacks, which left 130 people dead. We spoke
earlier when she joined me from Paris.
AMANPOUR: Mayor Hidalgo, welcome back to the program.
HIDALGO: Merci beaucoup.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the security issue because, shortly after we talked to you last time, right after the terrible attacks in Paris, we
had just a few weeks ago this terrible attack in Brussels.
What went through your mind when you saw the news of that?
HIDALGO (through translator): As for a lot of Parisians -- and I am still thinking of the families of the victims in Paris -- we all had the same
And I immediately rang up my colleague in Brussels to try and ensure how things were unraveling in his city, to make sure that he knew I was by his
And what I realized today is that there is a very efficient cooperation between police services in Europe and between Belgium and France that
enabled services to dismantle very quickly between France and Belgium (INAUDIBLE) work so this cooperation is still very active.
So we have to adapt to that with more security. It is the case in Paris with increased measures, with police presence and military presence and
also deeper cooperation between France and Belgium.
AMANPOUR: Paris is hosting the UEFA Cup this summer and Paris and France, tourism is one of your most important economic issues.
How much of a hit have you taken?
And how do you think you can reestablish Paris as a major tourist destination?
HIDALGO (through translator): We've seen that Japanese tourists that love Paris have been less numerous. There was a drop in 20 percent of these
tourist activities in hotels, in a city like ours, with my colleague, who is the president of the region, Il de France.
We went to Japan a few weeks ago to meet up with tourist professionals and tour operators and the tourist sector to tell them, please come back.
And we are witnessing a rise in tourism again and we are going to host the UEFA Cup in June. There will be all the European nationalities and all the
soccer fans present here in Paris. And there, again, we have taken some very serious security measures. We must say that security is in place and
our city is --
HIDALGO (through translator): -- still standing.
From the Champs-Elysees, yesterday there was the marathon, the Paris Marathon, with 50,000 runners, who came. And it was a fantastic party. We
took the necessary measures to make it a secure event. And it was a tremendous party that hasn't been marred by anything. And there was very
nice weather like today.
Terrorists would like everything to stop, that we should stop talking, we should stop thinking, we should stop being happy together, we should stop
partying. They would like us to bring this present to them.
This is not our intention. We are going to carry on living and live well. And consider that the basis for our societies, for all our modern
democracies is humanism. And this is what we are holding at the heart of our thinking. This is our main weapon against terrorism.
AMANPOUR: Mayor, we know obviously that Salah Abdeslam has been arrested, of course. But we hear that there are many suspects from the Paris and
Brussels attacks who are still at large, still free.
Can you confirm that?
Can you tell me how many are at large?
HIDALGO (through translator): No, I can't confirm how many; there are a few that are actively being sought and with the dismantling of this network
that enabled us to detain some people outside Paris. And so we have been hitting quite hard at this terrorist cell.
That work in Brussels is very big, very large and we are still very vigilant. And this is something that we are going to carry on living with,
whether it is in France or in Europe or on the other side of the Atlantic, because all our democracies are under threat today.
I saw the families of the victims, of the November attacks this week. And they are not relieved. There is no relief possible.
And the fact that they could sit in a courtroom to try and get justice, I think this is a very important step.
AMANPOUR: And just briefly, the extradition is being prepared for Abdeslam.
Do you believe he will cooperate?
HIDALGO (through translator): It's very difficult to know. There is a strategy, a judicial strategy behind what we saw. He said that he wanted
to be extradited and this is perhaps to show that he had nothing to do with the Brussels attacks. This is something for the justice to say.
I hope there will be some cooperation. But I do not know the frame of mind of this person. But he was capable of being at the origin of a terror
attack that caused 130 dead.
And nobody will forget that.
AMANPOUR: Mayor Anne Hidalgo, good luck and thank you for joining us.
HIDALGO: Merci a vous. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And next, we travel across the world to a new revolution taking place in China, with President Xi Jinping feeling the heat after several
rare and open letters sharply criticizing him. The latest issue of "The Economist" takes him to task.
And after a break, we imagine a world where she is trying to relieve a different kind of pressure, challenging China's toilet deficit -- next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where China's latest major investment is in the toilet. President Xi Jinping himself is leading a
campaign to bring toilets to the masses -- in tourist hot spots, to be precise.
China is building thousands upon thousands of public lavatories. But the biggest challenge of this toilet revolution is changing the people's
infamous toilet etiquette, which has recently been shared far and wide online.
Here in Britain, this image of a grandmother holding a young boy as he relieved himself outside a Burberry story, no less, went viral and shocked
the nation, which always minds its Ps and Qs and takes its WCs very seriously, as they do also in Hong Kong, a former British colony, where the
habit of public urination and defecation simply makes them feel a whole lot worse about the mainland.
Beijing is now waging a propaganda war to flush out this behavior, coughing up billions of dollars to complete the toilet transformation.
And other mighty powers are in the midst of their own restroom revolutions as well, like India, the world's largest democracy, which reportedly wants
to build 100 million toilets by 2019.
So here's hoping these ambitious goals don't go down the drain -- or perhaps hoping that they do.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.