The Panama Papers (2016) are the 11.5 million files of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in Panama that hides money for the rich and powerful. It names names. It cover the years 1977 to 2015.
It is the biggest data leak to date: it is Edward Snowden times ten, WikiLeaks times a thousand.
Among Mossack Fonseca’s customers:
- past and present leaders (or those close to them) of 25 countries: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Britain, China, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Iceland, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Ukraine.
- 128 public officials throughout the world and
- 29 billionaires.
The prime minister of Iceland has already resigned.
The US: So far no US president, presidential candidate or even public official has been named (at least in the US press).
China has blocked news of the Panama Papers. The Economist, at least in its early reporting, failed to point out that Ian Cameron, father of the British prime minister, is among the named.
ICIJ: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), made up of reporters from 78 countries, got the files about a year ago. Since then they have been going through them, their first reports appearing in the press on April 3rd 2016. There is still more to come. It is only day four!
Offshore banking: It has long been known that dictators, drug lords and the rich hide much of their money offshore in places like the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands – to avoid taxes or the law. But the Panama Papers names names and amounts – and makes it clear that the Western press more readily reports the corruption of non-Western leaders than their own.
Mossack Fonseca: If you, say, rob Heathrow Airport of 3.5 tons of gold, as one of their customers did in 1983, or take a huge bribe, the lawyers at Mossack Fonseca can help. They can set it up so that you can spend your fortune without the authorities (or ex-wives or voters) being able to know much if anything about it. Mossack Fonseca has offices all over the world. It is one of the four largest such companies.
Shell companies: Mossack Fonseca hides money mainly by creating shell companies. It has created hundreds of thousands of them, mainly in the
British Virgin Islands and Panama. Shell companies hide where their
money comes from and who it benefits. Well, it hides it till there is
a data leak!
Brought to you by Mossack Fonseca:
- Higher taxes/poor public services: The US loses some $100 billion in taxes from offshore banking. Poor countries, though, are harder hit since they can ill afford to lose any taxes.
- War, refugees: Mossack Fonseca maintains its innocence, but it is clear from emails that it knew it was helping Syria avoid international sanctions so that it could keep its planes and helicopters in the air in the civil war, a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions from their homes.
– Abagond, 2016.
- The ICIJ: The Panama Papers – the ICIJ’s website on the Panama Papers.
- Edward Snowden
- The Economist
- Top mass murders of 2015
- propaganda model
- Broken Africa stereotype