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The Latest: Geneva prosecutor probes Panama Papers case

LONDON – The Latest on the publication by a coalition of media outlets of an investigation into offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

The Geneva prosecutor’s office says it has opened an investigation in connection with revelations from the so-called Panama Papers.

A spokesman for state prosecutor Olivier Jornot said in an email Friday that the prosecutor opened the investigation two days earlier, and his office was so far simply moving forward on “verifications.”

Spokesman Vincent Derouand said Jornot, speaking Thursday at a news conference with Swiss reporters, pointed to “a risk that criminal infractions could have been committed” in specific cases, without elaborating.

The Tribune de Geneve newspaper, which has had access to the Panama Papers, reported this week that some Geneva lawyers had exploited the offshore bank system, among some 1,500 Swiss intermediaries with ties to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — from which the leaked documents came.

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1:05 p.m.

Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper is reporting that the country’s senate president, the third highest-ranking politician in Africa’s biggest oil producer, owns at least two offshore accounts that he tried to deny.

The paper is one of the media outlets investigating the leaked documents from a Panama-based law firm.

It said Toyin Saraki “was a mere business front” for her husband, senate president Bukola Saraki. It published documents showing she signed over to her husband one company registered in the British Virgin Islands and one in the Seychelles islands in January 2015.

Saraki could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. Earlier this week, he denied any wrongdoing and said the companies did not belong to his wife but to her family and that was why he had no obligation to declare them among his assets.

The revelations come as the senator is on trial for allegedly making a false declaration of assets while governor of Kwara state from 2003 to 2011.

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11:40 a.m.

Romania’s richest businessman, Ion Tiriac, says he has placed assets in a private foundation in Panama.

Tiriac said he had a foundation in Panama, and said he paid taxes in the countries he operated in, in comments made to Realitatea TV late Thursday.

Documents published by investigative journalists at Rise Project this week reveal that Tiriac in 2009 used Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca to transfer the control of his assets from an offshore firm registered in the British Virgin Islands to a private foundation registered in Panama, Puma Foundation.

Tiriac’s lawyer, Nicolai Mindrila, said Romanian tax authorities were aware of Tiriac’s offshore holdings.

Klaus Mangold, a friend of Tiriac’s and board member at Daimler from 1995 to 2003, is on Puma Foundation’s board.

Tiriac has investments in real estate, automobiles and formerly in banking and Metro, the supermarket chain. He also put his name to the BRD Nastase Tiriac tennis open, a 21-year-old tournament.

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This story has been corrected to show Mangold was a board member, not CEO, of Daimler.