ABN Amro surfaces in Panama Papers with controversial loans

ABN Amro again surfaced in the Panama Papers. This time in the form of accounts and loans given to companies connected to a controversial billionaire, Dutch newspapers Financieele Dagblad and Trouw reports.

The billionaire involved is Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz. He is suspected of bribery in Guinea, corruption in Switzerland and the United States and money laundering in Romania.

The bank insists that they have nothing to do with Steinmetz or his business Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR). "The company around Beny Stenmetz is built around the group BSGR (with which we have nothing to do." a spokesperson for the bank said to FD.

But according to the Panama Papers, this is not the case. At least five companies of the BSG group in the Netherlands call ABN Amro their bank in their annual accounts, including the cooperative BSG Real Estate (Netherlands). The paper also shows that ABN Amro gave a 36 million euro loan to diamond company Diacore, owned by Steinmetz' brother Daniel, on February 25th 2014. Up until July last year, Beny Steinmetz was an authorized representative of the Diacore International Limited group.

Trouw and Financieele Dagblad are the two Dutch newspapers involved in the investigation into the Panama Papers – 11.5 million documents, spreadsheets, emails and other files leaked from Panamanian legal consultancy Mossack Fonseca that form the basis of a worldwide investigation into tax evasion.

This is not the first time ABN Amro is mentioned in the Panama Papers. Last week the two newspapers reported that ABN Amro subsidiaries are listed as so-called nominee shareholders of companies in tax havens, thereby hiding the names of clients who are the actual shareholders.

Two weeks ago ABN Amro board member Bert Meerstadt resigned after his name popped up in the Panama Papers. He  is listed as the first shareholder of Morclan Corporation – company on the Virgin Islands founded by Mossack Fonseca in 2001.