The Panama Papers: how the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore

Guardian analysis of leaked papers will show how influential people including heads of government have exploited tax havens.

The Guardian, By Juliette Garside, Holly Watt and David Pegg, April 3

The hidden wealth of some of the world’s most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes.

The Guardian, working with global partners, will set out details from the first tranche of what are being called “the Panama Papers”. Journalists from more than 80 countries have been reviewing 11.5m files leaked from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm.

The Guardian: The Panama Papers: what you need to know
The Guardian: Iceland’s PM faces calls for snap election after offshore revelations

SudDeutsche Zeitung: Coverage Home
SudDeutsche Zeitung: A storm is coming
SudDeutsche Zeitung: About the Panama Papers
Zero Hedge: First Panama Papers Casualty? Former Iceland Premier Calls On Current PM To Resign To “Prevent An Uprising”
Zero Hedge: “Unprecedented Leak” Exposes The Criminal Financial Dealings Of Some Of The World’s Wealthiest People
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: The Panama Papers

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  • Seems to me there’s a notable bias toward non-Western players vs Western players. While I don’t doubt some Russian, Chinese, Afghans, Iraqi, Turkish, etc. are engaged in both money laundering and hiding wealth, most of the money laundering and wealth exists in the West, yet the focus seems to be on demonizing “the enemy”, with just a handful of Westerners thrown under the bus to give the illusion of fairness. (Pepe Escobar agrees, for that’s worth. As does Craig Murray).

    Those in possession of the documents have said not all will be made public.
          Why not?
    Maybe because giving the scoop to the MSM guarantees a certain level of protection discretion will prevail?

  • hattip Nathan

    “Determining a precise number of Americans in the data is difficult. There are at least 200 scanned individual U.S. passports. Some appear to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama. Also in the database, about 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies who list U.S. addresses. And almost 3,100 companies are tied to offshore professionals based in Miami, New York, and other parts of the United States.

    Further complicating matters, some U.S. citizens enjoy dual citizenship and open accounts under foreign passports. Others appeared to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama.

    Among the cases McClatchy and its partners found:

    ▪ Robert Miracle of Bellevue, Wash., is in the files. He was indicted for a $65-million Seattle-area Ponzi scheme involving investment in Indonesian oilfields, with new investors’ money allegedly used to pay off past investors. Miracle was sentenced on May 13, 2011, to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion.

    Miracle’s company was called Mcube Petroleum, and it remained an active shareholder in several offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands up until he pleaded guilty. The offshores were created by Mossack Fonseca.

    More at link.

  • Granted RT has an axe to grind, but sometimes they do confirm my bias.
    From the git-go, the access had me wondering.

    A hacker opposing the .1% would have trumpeted the hack from the rooftops.

    A disgruntled employee?
    Again silence.

    NSA/CIA? Release the data but don’t admit how it was obtained?
    The silence is deafening.

  • More than a year ago the Süddeutsche Zeitung was contacted by a source who was intent on staying anonymous. The source called himself “John Doe” and offered internal data belonging to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The Süddeutsche Zeitung decided to analyze the data in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). In the course of the research the cooperation was extended to include more than 100 media organizations from over 80 countries. The publication of the Panama Papers caused an enormous stir all over the globe: Politicians and functionaries had to resign, there was a large amount of public protest, and the stories led to raids and investigations in dozens of countries.

    Now “John Doe”, the anonymous source, has sent the SZ a manifesto, which can be read as an explanation of his actions – and as a call to action. The manifesto and its inherent political stance had no editorial influence on the reporting by the SZ or of any of the other cooperating media organizations – nor will it influence them in the future. The SZ did not have to agree to any conditions concerning the reporting in order to receive the data of the Panama Papers.

    John Doe’s Manifesto

    Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time. It affects all of us, the world over. The debate over its sudden acceleration has raged for years, with politicians, academics and activists alike helpless to stop its steady growth despite countless speeches, statistical analyses, a few meagre protests, and the occasional documentary. Still, questions remain: why? And why now?

    The Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to these questions: massive, pervasive corruption. And it’s not a coincidence that the answer comes from a law firm. More than just a cog in the machine of “wealth management,” Mossack Fonseca used its influence to write and bend laws worldwide to favour the interests of criminals over a period of decades. In the case of the island of Niue, the firm essentially ran a tax haven from start to finish. Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack would have us believe that their firm’s shell companies, sometimes called “special purpose vehicles,” are just like cars. But used car salesmen don’t write laws. And the only “special purpose” of the vehicles they produced was too often fraud, on a grand scale.

    Shell companies are often associated with the crime of tax evasion, but the Panama Papers show beyond a shadow of a doubt that although shell companies are not illegal by definition, they are used to carry out a wide array of serious crimes that go beyond evading taxes. I decided to expose Mossack Fonseca because I thought its founders, employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes, only some of which have come to light thus far. It will take years, possibly decades, for the full extent of the firm’s sordid acts to become known.

    In the meantime, a new global debate has started, which is encouraging. Unlike the polite rhetoric of yesteryear that carefully omitted any suggestion of wrongdoing by the elite, this debate focuses directly on what matters.


    The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery. In this system—our system—the slaves are unaware both of their status and of their masters, who exist in a world apart where the intangible shackles are carefully hidden amongst reams of unreachable legalese. The horrific magnitude of detriment to the world should shock us all awake. But when it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy’s checks and balances have all failed, that the breakdown is systemic, and that severe instability could be just around the corner. So now is the time for real action, and that starts with asking questions.

    Historians can easily recount how issues involving taxation and imbalances of power have led to revolutions in ages past. Then, military might was necessary to subjugate peoples, whereas now, curtailing information access is just as effective or more so, since the act is often invisible. Yet we live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized.

    Or perhaps it has already begun.

    Via Naked Capitalism: “John Doe’s Manifesto”: Panama Papers Source Blasts Lack of Media Interest, Calls for Prosecutions, Whistleblower Protection

  • Panama Papers database of offshore companies goes public

    Chicago Tribune, May 9

    Frankfurt – A group of investigative journalists made live the names of thousands of offshore companies based on a massive trove of data on the finances of the rich and powerful that has become known as the Panama Papers.

    The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists made data on 200,000 entities available on Monday at 1 p.m. CT on its website.


    It won’t be the full cache of data commonly known as the Panama Papers, since the database will exclude information and documents on bank accounts, phone numbers and emails.

    The ICIJ said it was putting the information online “in the public interest” as “a careful release of basic corporate information” as it builds on an earlier database of offshore entities.

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