Vladimir Putin has denied “any element of corruption” over the use of offshore financial services by those in his inner circle, and said the leaks were an attempt by his political opponents to destabilise Russia.

Speaking about the leaks for the first time at a public forum in St Petersburg, Putin denied any wrongdoing or corruption by himself or those close to him.

The leak of 30 years of confidential documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed a number of offshore shell companies owned by close friends and political allies of the Russian president.

Offshore companies setup in locations such as Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), such as those setup by Mossack Fonseca for Putin’s associates, can be used for money laundering or tax evasion, as alleged by a number of newspapers with access to the full Panama Papers archive.

A number of world leaders and their friends and family have been named in the leaks, including relatives of at least eight members of the top leadership of China’s Communist Party, the former prime minister of Iceland, and David Cameron’s father.

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