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Australia's prime minister named in Panama Papers

In an uncomfortable development on the campaign trail, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been named in the Panama Papers.

His name appears in the leaked documents connected to a British Virgin Islands company, Star Technology Services Limited, Fairfax Media reported. Aimed at exploiting a Siberian gold prospect, the business, of which he was reportedly co-director from 1993 to 1995, was administered by the now notorious Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

The Panama Papers, widely considered to be the largest leak in the history of journalism, have brought thousands of names into the open for using shell companies and other secretive financial arrangements. Spearheaded by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, news reports mined Mossack Fonseca's internal documents to reveal how politicians, sportspeople and celebrities stored their riches in global tax havens.

The report does not suggest any wrongdoing by Turnbull, with a spokesperson advising Fairfax Media the Prime Minister was unaware the company had been administered by Mossack Fonseca.

Talking to reporters Wednesday, the prime minister said there was no suggestion of impropriety at all. "There is nothing new there. The company concerned was a wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly-listed Australian company," he added. "The involvement is very very well known."

Nevertheless, it comes at an awkward time for the prime minister as the July 2 Australian election approaches. His opponent, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, has been attempting to characterise the wealthy prime minister as out of touch with working class Australians. 

Liberal Party faithful, Arthur Sinodinos, suggested Turnbull had nothing to answer to. "That is a dead horse being flogged, it’s a 20 year matter, it’s old news," he said, according to the Guardian.

Turnbull's office has been contacted for comment.

UPDATE: May 12, 2016 at 12:15 p.m. AEST Comment added from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

UPDATE: May 12, 2016 a 2.14 p.m. AEST This post has been updated to clarify that shell companies are not illegal entities.

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