In an article published on LinkedIn yesterday by Bill Fairclough, Chairman of Faire Sans Dire, he drew attention to the “Panama Papers” before they became today’s headlines. The “Panama Papers” or “PanamaPapers” are documents leaked (or stolen) from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The law firm specialises in creating offshore companies and trusts etc to help individuals “avoid” taxes and “hide” their wealth and so on. In aggregate the data leaked or stolen comprises about 11.5 million documents or 2.6 terabytes of data from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database.
What happened was that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncovered millions of documents showing heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens. Even David Cameron’s father features as do the likes of Messi, those alleged to have committed one of the UK’s largest robberies ever along with current and former world leaders including prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia plus more than 214,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. If the ICIJ hasn’t uncovered what you’re up to maybe it has fingered some of your colleagues, competitors or neighbours!
We suggest you start checking out this treasure trove of data by reading the ICIJ article and follow the trails that interest you from there. More than 200,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in most of the world’s countries and territories so odds on you are connected to someone in this seemingly corrupt pot pourri as the trails lead to millions of people.
Yesterday’s article published by Faire Sans Dire was first released before the world’s mainstream media reported anything about the “PanamaPapers” details of which are now coming to light. In terms of volumes of supposedly secret information the “Panama Papers” dwarf Julian Assange’s Wikileaks revelations in 2010 or Edward Snowden’s expositions in 2013. Indeed, in time they may prove to have a greater impact on our world as we know it than Wikileaks or Snowden by, for example, destabilising China or loosening Putin’s grip on Russia.
In that regard is it of note that Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm involved, is the only offshore services firm to have suffered a leak to date and while it is estimated to be the fourth largest in the world providing “offshore services” there are thousands of businesses that offer similar services (including the largest global accounting and law firms in the world). So far today the Guardian has published (ad verbatim) that “the Panama Papers reveal:
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin – is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.
Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets.
The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other jurisdictions.
A key member of Fifa’s powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football’s scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.
One leaked memorandum from a partner of Mossack Fonseca said: “Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.” ”
This article was first published on 4th April 2016. You can now see a list of those account holders and others of interest identified to date on this page in Wikipedia and no doubt it will be updated from day to day. A full list is expected to be made available in the public domain within a month or so. Another interesting list (available using the drop down button in the top right hand corner of the screen marked “EN”) has also been provided by the ICIJ itself.