Want a glimpse of what kind of person gets involved with a Panamian law firm specializing in creating offshore companies and "handling" assets? Take a look at this video interview the Toronto Star has published with Canada's Danny Lalonde, a former professional boxer who dreamed of retiring to a tropical lifestyle.
"Am i not the first Canadian listed in the Panama Papers to do a public interest interview?" he says on camera and then adding: "Maybe that's because I got hit in the head too many times."
Many tax haven users portray their offshore accounts as simply a tool to keep their money offshore. But it is clear in this interview that Lalonde got involved because of a series of real estate developments that could only be carried out with processes that would be suspect in Canada. Lalonde would buy land with no money down, raise money from investors to pay the mortgage and the servicing bills and earn a commission as the “the guy on the ground in the jungle" who would "fight" for the investors' interests. Many of those same investors are now in legal proceedings with him calling his developments nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.
"Tax haven apologists are always telling us that there are legitimate reasons to hide your money and have anonymous companies," says Dennis Howlett, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness. "Stories like these show the real story. It is time for Canada to join the global community and put an end to this."
Lalonde's story became public through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Panama Papers project. The Toronto Star and the CBC are the two Canadian media partners in the endeavour which has done much to expose the underbelly of tax havens.
The documents in the Panama Papers reveal that a complicated array of companies registered by Mossack Fonseca comprise Lalonde’s Costa Rican real estate business.
As of May 2016, Costa Rican records reveal Lalonde controls 53 companies, many tied to development; 43 of these owe more than $36,000 (U.S.) in taxes to the Costa Rican Treasury.