Photo via La Nación

President Mauricio Macri addressed the Panama Papers scandal once more — the 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca revealing the shady financial maneuvers of the world’s elite leaked in April — in an interview published by the Spanish newspaper ABC.

“I made a mistake by not realizing how significant it was. When the first question came from [the] journalists, I should have given an explanation. But I considered it so absurd, being asked about an [offshore] company belonging to my father,” explained Macri.

When the Panama Papers scandal exploded, Macri and public officials repeatedly stated that no investments had been made via the companies in which the President’s name appeared: since there had been no financial activity, the companies were not on his tax statement, he claims. Macri’s father, Franco Macri, has since taken responsibility for the companies, but these justifications incurred political costs in terms of image and reputation.

“The company was declared before the tax agency [AFIP]. There was nothing wrong and I underestimated the phenomenon,” he continued.

“My duty is to govern, create a future, put public information at the service of the justice system and [Argentine] citizens in order for them to [monitor things], make sure that there isn’t impunity […] The justice system is what has to determine who is responsible for what. My government does not meddle with the justice system […] The powers [of the State] must be separate,” said Macri.

When pushed about his opinion on former Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s judicial cases, Macri answered, “I cannot give you my opinion, I am the President. The important thing is that we are all accountable before the [law],” concluded Macri.

“I’m proud of the Argentine people. We’ve learned, we’ve gown and we’ve understood that making an effort is the way [forward], work culture, telling the truth, respecting the separation of [State] powers, freedom of expression […] And that is what this government has done from day one,” concluded Macri.

Macri is currently on the last leg of his six-day world tour which included Chile for the Pacific Alliance summit. Today he is in Brussels and tomorrow and Wednesday will be in Berlin for a State visit in which he will see Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the CEOs of German companies like Mercedes Benz, Siemens and Volkswagen in a bid to attract investment.

“We want to make the link between Mercosur and the EU more dynamic, the future is constructing networks, not building walls,” he explained. 

The objective of Macri’s trip to the European Union is to amend Mercosur’s failure to negotiate a viable trade agreement with the EU and initiate negotiations as well as improve bilateral relations with the EU. A couple of weeks ago, draft proposals to liberate trade movement between Mercosur and the EU were made public (they had been submitted a month beforehand).