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Friday 17th
posted by Morning Star in World

ECUADOREAN banker and right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso could see his campaign derailed after an Argentinian investigative newspaper revealed his offshore wealth.

Pagina 12 showed on Wednesday that Mr Lasso is connected to 49 companies based in overseas tax havens, presenting problems for him in the April 2 election second round.

Left-wing Pais Alliance candidate Lenin Moreno came top in the first round on February 19 with 39 per cent, but his opponent, who scored 29 per cent, hopes to win by picking up eliminated candidates’ second preferences.

The companies, based in Panama, the Cayman Islands and US, have diverse names that hide Mr Lasso’s role.

Pagina 12 reported that between 1999 and 2000, around the time that former president Jamil Mahuad dollarised the economy and Mr Lasso served as minister of finance, the banker’s fortune rose from $1 million (about £600,000) to $31m (£20.4m).

He is believed to have boosted his fortune by speculating on government bonds before dollarisation, which left millions of Ecuadoreans in poverty.

“The financier tried in recent years to tidy up his businesses in order to enter the political arena,” the report said.

“However, the magnitude of the offshore companies and their profits could implicate him in tax evasion.”

Ecuador became the first country in the world last month to ban public officials from having assets or capital in tax havens after voters backed the idea in a plebiscite.

All public servants and elected officials have a year in which to repatriate offshore investments or be removed from office for violating the policy, aimed at combating tax havens and increasing public accountability.