FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panama-based law firm offers a glimpse into the shadowy world where the rich and powerful hide their money, raising sharp questions about the use of shell companies that obscure the identities of their true owners. Leaders of the Group of 20 — representing about 80 percent of the global economy — have vowed to crack down on the practice, which is blamed for helping conceal money laundering, corruption and tax evasion. By themselves, shell companies aren't illegal. Countries have tightened rules on using them — but not enough to satisfy anti-corruption activists.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A middle-aged man is walking through a quiet Seoul neighborhood when he suddenly stops. He lights a cigarette, cupping his hands to shield the flame from the winter wind, and takes a deep draw, remembering how things used to be. He's a former policeman, a broad-shouldered man with a growling voice and a crushing handshake. Back where he came from, he says, he was someone who mattered. "In North Korea, people were afraid of me," he says. He says it wistfully, almost sadly, like a boy talking about a dog he once had. "They knew I could just drag them away." That fear meant respect, and bribes, in the North Korean town where he lived, a place where the electricity rarely worked and the Internet was only a rumor.
The Panamanian law firm at the center of a big document leak, Mossack Fonseca, served as an official intermediary for a company sanctioned by the U.S. government for its ties to Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, according to U.S. Treasury Department records. In 2008, the Treasury Department barred American citizens and companies from doing business with Billy Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean businessman, and one of his companies, Ridgepoint Overseas Developments Ltd. The U.S. also sought to freeze Rautenbach's assets because of what it said were his ties to corrupt Mugabe officials on a large-scale mining project, according to a Treasury Department press release at the time.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Satellite imagery indicates activity at a North Korean laboratory that could separate plutonium for nuclear weapons, a U.S. website that monitors sensitive sites in the isolated country said Monday. The website, 38 North, said that during the past five weeks, exhaust plumes have been seen two or three times at the radiochemical laboratory complex at Nyongbyon, which is North Korea's known nuclear facility. That suggests buildings there are being heated, but it's unclear for what activity. The lab is where North Korea separates weapons-grade plutonium from waste from a nuclear reactor. The North announced in 2013 its intention to refurbish and restart nuclear facilities, including the reactor, which was shut down in 2007 under aid-for-disarmament negotiations it later withdrew from.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Helen Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister who is now a senior U.N. official, announced Tuesday she is running for the top position at the United Nations, saying she would bring nearly 30 years of leadership skills to the job of secretary-general. Clark is the eighth candidate, and the first from outside Europe, to enter the race to succeed Ban Ki-moon, whose second term expires at the end of this year. Some in the U.N. are pushing for a woman to take the top role for the first time and some, including Russia, argue that Eastern Europe has never had a secretary-general and it's their turn.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — With a possible early election looming, the Australian government suffered a confidence blow on Tuesday when an opinion poll showed it is trailing the opposition party for the first time since changing its leader last year. With an election possible as early as July 2, the Newspoll published in The Australian newspaper found that support for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition was behind the center-left Labor Party 49 percent to 51. Sydney-based market researcher Newspoll publishes a survey on the major political parties' popularity every two weeks. The survey has become a reputable barometer of Australia's political mood.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's environment and forestry minister says Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio lacked complete information when he criticized the destruction of rainforests during a visit to a protected national park last month. His comments prompted immigration officials to warn that DiCaprio could be barred from reentering Indonesia but the minister, Siti Nurbaya, says she appreciates his good intentions and hopes to cooperate with him in future. The Hollywood star made a one-day visit to protected Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra and uploaded photos to his Instagram account, expressing concerns over species whose habitats are threatened by palm oil plantations.
BEIJING (AP) — Mainland Chinese media ignored a film festival award by "Ten Years," a collection of five shorts that depict a gloomy future for Beijing-ruled Hong Kong, where freedom of speech has all but disappeared. "Ten Years" won out over the favorite, crime thriller "Port of Call," in the best film category at Sunday's Hong Kong Film Festival. "Port of Call," which won seven awards, had been nominated in 13 categories and "Ten Years" just one. Mainland media failed to mention the win by "Ten Years," with at least one entertainment site omitting it from its list of winners. Online site Tencent, which often broadcasts film ceremonies, put up videos of other winners accepting awards.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — At least six police officers have been killed in a Taliban ambush on their convoy in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, an official said on Monday. Abdul Manon Raoufi, operational commander for police in the region, said insurgents attacked the convoy Sunday night in the Dawlat Abad district. The police were on their way to neighboring Jawzjan province after conducting an anti-insurgent operation in Balkh when the ambush happened, he said. No group has claimed responsibility. Raoufi said an insurgent leader of the Taliban was also killed in the gunfight. Separately, in eastern Nangarhar province, two people died and six others were wounded in a bomb explosion Monday, said Hazrat Hussain Mashreqewal, spokesman for the provincial police chief.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Two passenger aircraft collided on the runway of an airport in the Indonesian capital, forcing its temporary closure. No injuries were reported. The accident on Monday evening occurred at a military airport that handles some civilian flights to ease congestion at Jakarta's main commercial airport. Batik Air said in a statement that its plane carrying 49 passengers and seven crew was "touched" while taxiing for takeoff by a TransNusa aircraft that was being towed. Images posted online showed severe damage to the wing of the Batik Air jet. The airline said passengers and crew were safely evacuated.