Panama Papers: Putin apologises

MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin has apologised for erroneously claiming that German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung was owned by the US bank Goldman Sachs.

The Russian president made the remark in a televised phone-in on Thursday.

It concerned who was responsible for the publication of the so-called Panama Papers, which were leaked to Sueddeutsche Zeitung and revealed massive international tax evasion.

In an apology issued by the Kremlin, Mr Putin said he was misinformed by aides.

"It is more the error of those who prepared the briefing documents, my error," Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters.

"There was information there that had not been checked and rechecked again and we gave it to the president. We have apologised [to the bank] and we will also apologise to the publication."

The Panama Papers, which contained the names of people allegedly involved in tax evasion schemes, revealed a number of offshore companies owned by close associates of Mr Putin.

Mr Putin has denied "any element of corruption" over the schemes, saying his opponents are trying to destabilise Russia.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung shared the documents with a large group of newspapers and publishers, including the BBC.

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