Why Do They Call It Panama Papers, Anyway?

Over the weekend, a bunch of media outlets let loose shock and awe in bulk leak documents, PanamaPapers, with project leaders ICIJ and Sueddeutsche Zeitung — as well as enthusiastic partner, Guardian — rolling out bring spreads on a massive trove of data from the shell company law firm Mossack Fonseca.

If all goes well, the leak showing what MF has been doing for the last four decades will lead us to have a better understanding of how money gets stripped from average people and then hidden in places where it will be safe from prying eyes.

Before I raise some questions about the project, I wanted to point to one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve seen from the project so far: this Miami Herald piece showing how its high end real estate boom has been facilitated by the money laundering facilitated by MF.

At the end of 2011, a company called Isaias 21 Property paid nearly $3 million — in cash — for an oceanfront Bal Harbour condo.

But it wasn’t clear who really owned the three-bedroom unit at the newly built St. Regis, an ultra-luxury high-rise that pampers residents with 24-hour room service and a private butler.

In public records, Isaias 21 listed its headquarters as a Miami Beach law office and its manager as Mateus 5 International Holding, an offshore company registered in the British Virgins Islands, where company owners don’t have to reveal their names.

[snip]

Buried in the 11.5 million documents? A registry revealing Mateus 5’s true owner: Paulo Octávio Alves Pereira, a Brazilian developer and politician now under indictment for corruption in his home country.

A Miami Herald analysis of the never-before-seen records found 19 foreign nationals creating offshore companies and buying Miami real estate. Of them, eight have been linked to bribery, corruption, embezzlement, tax evasion or other misdeeds in their home countries.

That’s a drop in the ocean of Miami’s luxury market. But Mossack Fonseca is one of many firms that set up offshore companies. And experts say a lack of controls on cash real-estate deals has made Miami a magnet for questionable currency.

The story is deeply contextualized with localized reporting that goes beyond the leaked documents. And it can lead to policy changes — restrictions on cash real estate transactions — that can help to stem (or at least redirect) the flow of this corrupt money. You could tell similar stories from big cities around North America (this has been a particular focus in NYC and Vancouver). And with effort, cities could crack down on such cash transactions, with all the negative effects they bring to localities.

But much of the other reporting so far remains at the level of shock and awe. Biggest leak ever! Putin Putin Putin! And much of the reporting reflects not just editorial bias, but some apparent innumeracy (though no one has yet released the real numbers) to claim that people from evil countries are proportionally more corrupt than people from good countries like the UK.

Where did these documents come from?

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.00.01 AM

Here’s how SZ describes how they got these documents.

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell companies enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.

In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.

Nowhere I’ve seen explains where this source got the documents.

For almost three years, we have openly debated what I consider a fair question: what was Edward Snowden’s motivation for stealing the NSA’s crown jewels and was any foreign country involved? People have also asked questions about how he accessed so much: Did he steal colleagues’ passwords? Did he join Booz Allen solely to be able to steal documents? I think the evidence supports an understanding that his motives were good and his current domicile an unfortunate outcome. And we know some details about how he managed to get what he did — but the key detail is that he was a Sysadmin in a location where insider detection systems were not yet implemented and credentials to have unaudited access to many of the documents he obtained. Those details are a key part of understanding some of the story behind his leaks (and how NSA and GCHQ are organized).

Somehow, journalists aren’t asking such questions when it comes to this leak, the Unaoil leak that broke last week, or the leak of files on British Virgin Isles have activity a few years back (which, like this project, ICIJ also had a central role in). I’m sympathetic to the argument that IDing who stole these documents would put her or him in terrible danger (depending on who it is). But I also think this level of description the Intercept gave — in the first paragraph of a story about stolen recordings of jailhouse phone calls that revealed improper retention of attorney client conversations — would be useful.

The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. [my emphasis]

The Intercept’s source, knowing of the problem, hacked recordings from an inadequately protected server.

As the Guardian’s own graphic makes clear, this leak dwarfs the leaks by Chelsea Manning and Hervé Falciani (the security engineer behind the HSBC leak). It probably dwarfs the Snowden leak (though oddly the Guardian, which had fingers in both, doesn’t include Snowden in its graphic). That ought to raise real questions about how someone could access so much more information than tech experts with key credentials working at the core of security in the targeted organizations could. And those questions are worth asking because if these files come from an external hacker — a definite possibility — than it ought to raise questions about how they were able to get so much undetected and even — as everyone felt appropriate to ask with Snowden — whether an intelligence agency was involved.

Where are the corrupt Americans?

As with the BVI leak before it, thus far this leak has included no details on any Americans. Some have suggested that’s because the Panama trade deal already brought transparency on US persons’ activities through the haven of Panama, except these files go back four decades and. Americans not only used Panama as a haven before that, but the CIA used it as a key laundering vehicle for decades, as Manuel Noriega would be all too happy to explain if western countries would let him out of prison long enough to do so.  Moreover, the files are in no way restricted to Panama (indeed, some of the stories already released describe the establishment of shell companies within the US).

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.17.39 AMNot only haven’t we heard about any Americans, but even for the close American friends identified so far — starting with Saudi Crown Prince and close CIA buddy Mohammed bin Nayef — the details provided to date are scanty, simply the name of the shell he was using.

Craig Murray has already been asking similar questions.

Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”

What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny “balancing” western country like Iceland. A superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone already with dementia.

Now, in response to people like me and Murray and Moon of Alabama asking those questions, the SZ editor in charge of their side of the project promises dirt on Americans will be coming. Let’s hope so, because this is a worthwhile leak of data, and it would be unfortunate for Americans and Brits to be deprived of learning more about the corruption among their elite.

Does this project follow up on Ken Silverstein’s earlier reporting?

Back in December 2014, Ken Silverstein did a fairly thorough review of MF at Vice (though he worked at the Intercept at the time).

[A] yearlong investigation reveals that Mossack Fonseca—which theEconomist has described as a remarkably “tight-lipped” industry leader in offshore finance—has served as the registered agent for front companies tied to an array of notorious gangsters and thieves that, in addition to Makhlouf, includes associates of Muammar Gaddafi and Robert Mugabe, as well as an Israeli billionaire who has plundered one of Africa’s poorest countries, and a business oligarch named Lázaro Báez, who, according to US court records and reports by a federal prosecutor in Argentina, allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through a network of shell firms, some which Mossack Fonseca had helped register in Las Vegas.

Documents and interviews I’ve conducted also show that Mossack Fonseca is happy to help clients set up so-called shelf companies—which are the vintage wines of the money-laundering business, hated by law enforcement and beloved by crooks because they are “aged” for years before being sold, so that they appear to be established corporations with solid track records—including in Las Vegas. One international asset manager who talked to Mossack Fonseca about doing business with them told me that the firm offered to sell a 50-year-old shelf company for $100,000.

If shell companies are getaway cars for bank robbers, then Mossack Fonseca may be the world’s shadiest car dealership.

Silverstein clearly had some documents, though there’s no indication he had the trove that started getting leaked to SZ and ICIJ in early 2015, just weeks after Silverstein’s story.

On Twitter, Silverstein suggested his story never got published because this was the period when the Intercept wasn’t publishing (I had something similar happen to me while there).

But given the close continuity between Silverstein’s story and SZ receipt of the first documents, are they part of the same effort?

Why do they call it the Panama Papers?

These aren’t papers showing the corruption that flows through Panama (for that matter, neither did the BVI leaks show all the corruption that flows through BVI, and there’s a significant BVI aspect to this leak). Rather, they show the corruption flowing through a Panamian-based but global firm, Mossack Fonseca. Reporting on this tells us MF is only the fourth largest of these laundering specialists.

So, aside from the fact that few people have heard of MF, why are we calling this the Panama Papers and not “Here’s what the fourth largest of these companies is involved with”?

All of which is to say as huge as this leak is — which is good! — it’s still just a tiny fraction of what’s out there.

Let the resignations begin

None of this is meant to undermine the importance of this leak or the reporting the team of journalists covering it. Indeed, the story already threatens to take down the Prime Minister of Iceland whose conflict of interest the files revealed. We should have more of these leaks, covering all the havens and shell-creators.

Just remember, as you’re watching the coverage, that we’re getting selective coverage of one particular corner of that industry (ICIJ has said something about releasing files in several months). By all means let’s go after the crooks this story exposes, but let’s remember the crooks who, for whatever reason, aren’t included in this one.

Update: Fusion, which is part of the data sharing, admits there are only 211 Americans identified in the stash, though thus far this is just from recent years (that is, the years that might be affected by the trade agreement).

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has only been able to identify 211 people with U.S. addresses who own companies in the data (not all of whom we’ve been able to investigate yet). We don’t know if those 211 people are necessarily U.S. citizens.

All that said, the very good experts (including Jack Blum, who’s as good on these issues as anyone) don’t have very compelling explanations why there aren’t Americans in the stash.

Update: McClatchy describes some of the 200-some Americans whose passports show up in the files. All the ones it describes have been prosecuted (though several got light punishments).

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

29 replies
  1. Alan says:

    The Guardian is covering the UK Prime Minister’s links to tax avoidance in the latest documents. This is not the first coverage of the PM’s links to off-shore tax havens. See for example, Cameron family fortune made in tax havens. In fact, the Guardian has a whole section on tax avoidance, and this ran to many hundreds of articles before the latest document release. Some examples:

    Cayman Islands – home to 100,000 companies

    Tax avoidance impoverishes us all.

    Inequality is the great concern of our age. So why do we tolerate rapacious, unjust tax havens?

  2. seedeevee says:

    It seems like every home/multi-unit in my neighborhood is being bought by someone in China paying cash with a direct transfer from their bank in China. Even though it is “technically” illegal.

    The amount of cash that has been siphoned from China is amazing.

  3. blueba says:

    While it does seem more than reasonable to question leaks and their sources especially sense there is so much subterfuge by governments and their agents however, this is only the beginning of the process of release. This article seem on the smarmy side. The issue of no US citizens (Americans are born in America you know, places like Bolivia or Uruguay which are in America) has been addressed by CIJI – they said, the information will be released over 14 days and will contain the names of US citizens. Further, to be so critical and suspicious on day one of a 14 day release seems unfair to say the least.

    You couldn’t wait to cast suspicion until after all the information is released and there is a little more understanding of the circumstances? No, you just cast unfounded suspension.

    • Alan says:

      I agree. Given the extensive and critical coverage of tax avoidance by UK companies and wealthy British citizens in the British press, not to mention parliamentary debate, Craig Murray’s suggestions, at least as far as the UK goes, should be taken with more than a bit of salt. This has been a hot political issue in the UK for some years prior to this leak. The sad thing is, not that the tax avoidance isn’t well-known, but that it is well-known and the electorate keeps electing the self-serving f****** engaged in these sort of activities and their protection. .

  4. RUKidding says:

    It’s very interesting, of course, but I’ll wait to see what else is revealed over the next fortnight. I find it concerning that almost no USA citizens have been named. The focus is on Putin, who is always the Big Enemy these days, except when GOP politicians and their suck up courtiers in the M$M want to use manly man Putin as some kind of hero to be emulated.
    **
    Thanks for the update, though. I’m also curious as to how this plays out and whether anything will actually, you know, happen or change because of it. Color me utterly cynical, but I’m doubtful that much will change or that people with be charged with tax evasion or whatever. The rich never are charged with much of anything these days, are they? There may be one or two scapegoats who are made to be an example, and then nothing else will happen and the beat down of the middle and working classes will continue apace.
    **
    The USA M$M will most likely be pretty silent about the whole thing, although I did note that National Propaganda Radio had a blurb on it yesterday but mostly focused on Putin, Putin, Putin!!11!! I’d be surprised if Trump and Clinton don’t have their names on those lists, because they seem like prime targets for off-shoring money and tax evasion. But whadda I know?

  5. nick says:

    If these guys are the #4 top launderer, I wonder if it wasn’t #5 who’s behind the hack.

    Can’t speak for others of course, but I’m certainly taking my business elsewhere.

  6. lefty665 says:

    “…and his current domicile an unfortunate outcome, though I get why some people aren’t totally convinced.”
    .
    While your Snowden comment was incidental to the post, it seems a shame to give any credence to people who question why he is in Russia. It is really very simple, the geniuses at State pulled his passport while he was in the international transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow. He was stuck there for more than a month before Russia granted him asylum. We can thank John Kerry and his minions for Snowden being in Russia.

  7. bevin says:

    What is interesting about the list of “leaders’ which did not include any of the Russian, Chinese or Syrian Presidents is that apart from the PM of Iceland all of them are or were trusted allies or agents of US Foreign policy, darlings of the neo-cons and backers of Wall St and the dollar.

    Mauricio Macri- President of Argentina. Elected on a pro US, neo-liberal platform. Among his first acts has been to order Telesur out of the country and to remove Argentine backing from that news source.

    Petro Poroshenko President of Ukraine. Elected after opposing political parties were banned. Pro US like Macri a darling of the neo-cons

    Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Saudking of Saudi Arabia. No comment needed.

    Ayad Allawi-former prime minister of Iraq. Alwai was the US candidate in the latter Ocupation elections. Pro US and neo-liberal he was regarded in Iraq as a puppet.

    Bidzina Ivanishvili-former prime minister of Georgia. Under US backed colour revolution winner Saakashvili who ordered the attack on Russia in 2008 on the first night of the Olympics. Saakashvili now works for Poroshenko as Governor of Odessa

    Ali Abu al-Ragheb-former prime minister of Jordan. US educated appointed by the NATO/Israel friendly King Abdullah

    Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani former prime minister of Qatar and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani former emir of Qatar. These guys are members of the family which has been backing Al Nusra and other jihadi militias to act as US proxies in Libya and Syria.

    Ahmad Ali al-Mirghani former president of Sudan. Now deceased, removed in a coup which charged him with being a western puppet. Exiled to Egypt he is dead.

    Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan- President of UAE

    Pavlo Lazarenko former prime minister of Ukraine. This friend of Yulia Tymoshenko is a classic oligarch of the sort very popular in the City of London. He got caught and sentenced to jail in California.

  8. omphaloscepsis says:

    Makes one wonder anew about the real rationale for Operation Just Cause. At least Evil Noriega has an alibi this time.

    A story by Juan Gonzalez in the New York Daily News from 6 years ago, somewhat ironically published on April 15:

    “A former banker who blew the whistle on thousands of secret bank accounts rich Americans held at Swiss giant UBS claimed Thursday some U.S. politicians also kept off-shore accounts with the bank.

    “We had an office in Washington that we all referred to as the PEP office – for ‘Politically Exposed People,'” Bradley Birkenfeld said.

    He was speaking by phone – on tax day, no less – from Schuylkill County federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 40-month sentence for his role in the tax evasion scheme.

    “Only top managers from the bank knew the names of the political clients,” Birkenfeld said.

    Executives from the bank’s U.S. subsidiary, UBS America, he added, helped promote those off-shore accounts through a New York “referral desk” that steered U.S. clients to their Swiss colleagues, and through dozens of high society events that the U.S. subsidiary often sponsored.”

    Switzerland, not Panama, but similar MO.

  9. PeasantParty says:

    Thank You, Thank You, and THANK YOU!

    CTuttle and I were over at the FB FDL group discussing these very issues and why we could not find any US crooks so far. I am so glad you shared with everyone who that Int. Consortiuous Crookedus is. With that knowledge and imagination you may be able to guess a few of the US’ers involved. I also have a feeling that some of our congress critters are neck deep in it also.

    Thanks again, Marcy. You continue to be amazing year after year.

  10. Denis says:

    Great post and great comments, ditto the last three or four
    posts on this subject.

    @seedeevee #2
    “It seems like every home/multi-unit in my neighborhood
    is being bought by someone in China”
    .
    Are you in Vancouver, BC, too? That is exactly what has
    been going on here for well over a decade. My former secretary,
    who is an immigrant from Macao, explained to me that in
    China/Hong Kong a large part of professionals’ income is cash
    under the table. They carry the cash to BC and sink it into property.
    The stories from RE agents of Chinese buying 5-10 properties at
    a time used to be legion, but I think that is tapering off now that
    home prices have been driven so high.
    .
    It doesn’t matter to the money launders whether they are buying
    5 houses for $2M or one. Now the prices for lovely old bungalows
    in Vancouver are so high working people can’t afford to live there.
    The whole scam is province-sanctioned money laundering.
    The politicians, who are clued in of course, are all sitting on
    properties who’s value is going through the roof.
    .
    Change of direction . . .
    .
    I think Craig Murray’s attempt to smear Chas Lewis’ CPI is unseemly,
    less than factual, and off point. Lewis, CPI, and ICIJ have done
    remarkable work. They seem to me, as illustrated by Murray’s
    list of supporters, to be farther beyond zionist control than your
    average group of investigative reporters from, say, WaPo, NYT,
    or LAT. You know, it’s that old Chomsky 5-filters model, with the
    anti-Communism filter #5 now generally replaced with a
    pro-zionist filter.
    .
    I like their cluster-shit-bomb approach of throwing out wee
    shit-bomblets that are going to go off periodically over a fortnight.
    Gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Gawd, there must be
    a bunch of obscenely rich crooks and scoff-laws all over the world
    waking up in the middle of the night with their silk pajamas
    soaked in sweat.
    .
    When ICIJ has named all the names, it will be interesting to see
    if there is a thread from the US taxpayer’s pocket, to Yisrael, to Panama,
    to the British Virgin Islands, to Shel Adelson in Las Vegas, to AIPAC,
    to Congress. The fact that ICIJ are building suspense by holding off on
    the US and Yisrael component of this cluster-shit-bomb attack until
    last is like a page from a Hitchcock movie script.
    .
    Here’s the shower scene:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGfAlzLn108
    .
    Sleep tight.

  11. martin says:

    Shucks..just when I thought I could steal away $10 I saved over the year from pinching pennys. Now I’ll just have to bury it in the backyard. The PTB will still have to dig for it.

  12. orionATL says:

    2+ terabytes of data ?

    that would be the nsa, of course – leading the counterattack on the isil.

    who is funding, directly or indirectly (thru laundering), the isil?

    the answer to that question are major u. s. targets: who is laundering money using oil? who is covertly funding isil?

    see bevin’s list at 4:19 for some possible actors.

    but there would need to be, of course, names included to obscure the source or intent of the leak, e. g., the previously well-known info on the cameron family.

    • orionATL says:

      on the other hand –

      because the info appeared in a newspaper in munich, the major german newspaper as it happens, and because switzerland is nearby, one could speculate that this is a swiss clandestine action undertaken by a swiss bank, banking organization, or the swiss gov’t itself to point out that switzerland is not the only tax haven.

      and to quietly make the point that the u. s. and its Swift system terrorist-money-sniffing robots are ignoring a lot of lawbreaking outside of switzerland, specifically in the u. s. hemisphere.

      the key point would be to embarass the u. s. (and british) gov’ts, not individuals, and make a point about u. s. hypocrisy with respect to chasing down money laundering and tax evasion.

  13. Virginia Simson says:

    There is a zeitgeist here – Murray jumped the bandwagon and pointed out potential flaws, but NO solutions, which irritates me.

    We need to DEMAND full disclosure of ALL documents to everyone in a searchable data base that doesn’t take 24 hours to download on a high speed server.

    We need to get together and demand DOJ action on ANY and ALL illegal activities involved. I’ll do a WH petition after the US info is revealed.

    We need to see the solution to this must be global! There needs to be not another useless inquiry but something with teeth developed – this isn’t “just” about tax evasion it’s about money laundering on sleezy crimes – drug dealing, procurement of nuclear materials, sex trafficking/slavery, and even organ harvesting profits. Maybe how the ISIS oil money was transferred from Israel to Turkey .. who KNOWS??

    The third prong is the governmental inaction – this has been off and on the headlines for over 8 years. Here is Bill Black on THAT: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13234

    And why I call this HSBC 3.0.

    Tben there are little tidbits like why was the NYT excluded from the investigation? Why a wall around them?

    Why are all the NGOs taking the line “nothing illegal was commited …” CLEARLY laws were broken racketering and other things.

    Once the adrenalization wears off, will people do The Right Thing and notice how this is an inevitable outcome of capitalism and demand a better system? complaining about Soros ain’t gonna get us there … At least we need to get a return to the RULE OF LAW.

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    • There's More says:

      From “IBM’s Chinese Cloud City” ( http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/27/ibm-china-computing-intelligent-technology-ibm.html ) —

      “The city of Wuxi may be small by Chinese standards–with an urban population of around 2 million compared to other PRC metropolises 10 times that size; it’s a sort of Newark to nearby Shanghai’s New York. But for IBM , Wuxi represents the intersection of two big information technology opportunities: the global move toward centralized “cloud computing” setups, and a chance to tap billions in government economic stimulus funds.

      The deal, by IBM’s standards, is tiny: just 20 million yuan initially, or around $3 million, according to Que. But the Wuxi contract represents a whiff of a much larger revenue source: the $600 billion economic stimulus program China launched last November.

      While the initial deal was funded by the local government, the next phase of the Wuxi project’s expansion likely will be funded with stimulus funds from China’s central government, says Thomas Li, head of IBM’s China research lab. And Wuxi is the test bed for much bigger plans: Li says IBM is targeting 100 other cities around China as other potential cloud customers, along with around 200,000 independent software companies it hopes to bring into its data centers. “Many of those projects will get stimulus funding,” says Li. “It’s a great opportunity for IBM to get financial returns, and it’s great for our positioning in China’s software industry.” ‘

      And …

      Erica Garaffo
      [email protected]_garaffo
      Excited to be working w/ @SunFoundation & @B_I_Tweets in #SanJose Let’s see #WhatWorks to be a #Data #Driven #City http://www.bloomberg.org/press/releases/bloomberg-philanthropies-expands-support-to-thirteen-new-cities-through-the-what-works-cities-initiative/
      8:17 AM – 10 Dec 2015

      Mustafa Al-Bassam [email protected] Apr 7
      GCHQ stopped rollout of smart meters after power companies proposed to use a single decryption key for 53m meters. http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2451793/gchq-intervenes-to-prevent-catastrophically-insecure-uk-smart-meter-plan
      3:09 AM – 7 Apr 2016

      Christopher Soghoian [email protected] 19h19 hours ago
      Christopher Soghoian Retweeted Brad Heath
      Patriotic tech companies like @rapid7 sell security exploits to the FBI at a discount.
      https://twitter.com/csoghoian/status/718153567727697922

  15. Nell says:

    Thanks to Marcy for laying out some important questions. I imagine further releases will raise more.

    Thanks to bevin for the list of distinctly US-allied figures named. I feel compelled to note that although the Russian, Syrian, or Chinese presidents were not named, people very close to them were. Not particularly interested in pushing new cold war (which is actually an excruciatingly hot war in many locations), so those interested can find those names in the coverage.

    I hope that a lot of the further reporting hews to the Miami Herald standard, and that the ICIJ will be willing to be much more transparent than it’s been so far.

    George Carlin was on to something: “It’s a club, and you ain’t in it.”

  16. Vince says:

    Good post.

    Seems like the 6/30/2014 date for agreement in place/in force for the FATCA US person account reporting law/information sharing for Panama would be an actual reason for someone to produce evidence ( in the later half of 2014? according to SZ – ‘ over a year’ ?) that could be used in tracing off shore income. Wealth holdings by US persons, some/most? predating the FT agreement, would now be searchable ( in theory) by IRS/Treasury, assuming they know *who* to look for.

    Point here is catch those that are doing things illegally, but more importantly, shame the ones that are doing it legally.

  17. GKJames says:

    Agreed. But the drama surrounding the revelations not only has a whiff of gossip — who’s on the list and who isn’t — but risks distracting us from corruption much closer to home and much grander in scale, a corruption now so refined that we naturally don’t refer to it as such. I’m talking about the corporate interests that buy the legislators who draft the US tax code and — presto! — billions in revenue find themselves beyond the reach of the US treasury while the corporations themselves continue to enjoy the privileges and immunities as Americans. And it’s all legal.

    • orionATL says:

      yes.

      as president carter recently said (more or less) :

      “we now have an oligopoly with open political bribery (of the congress). “

      • orionATL says:

        indeed, all this “who’s a (tax) dodger, a well known dodger” is just a kind of juicy political gossip.

        the critical fact though, is that none of this, not one gold bar of this, could be happening without the lobbyists on k-street.

        personally, i’d much rather see a political frontal attack on k street than on wall street.

        a wall street attack is an earnest simpleton’s attack that would change things only a little.

        however, a persistent, effective attack on k street, i. e., on the mob of lobbyists manipulating congressional staff and congressgobbers, would drastically change american government policy for the better,

        including policy toward off-shore movements of both capital and the “means of production, i. e., corporations.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice context questions, the kind the MSM routinely avoids like the plague; they might make readers think. It would seem vitally important to know who benefits and who gets hosed when a single Panamanian-based provider of these tax planning/avoidance services is outed. MF may have a global client based, but it has competitors throughout the world: the Caribbean, Gibraltar, Jersey, Isle of Man, Switzerland, London, Dublin, Singapore and Hong Kong just by way of example.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      How unthinking of me to have forgotten another global source for sophisticated tax planning and avoidance schemes: New York City.

  19. Oh Hai Big Bro says:

    Published Aug 31, 2011, an excerpt from “IBM to acquire i2 for criminal mastermind software” but read the whole thing at http://www.computerworld.com/article/2510873/business-intelligence/ibm-to-acquire-i2-for-criminal-mastermind-software.html

    “IBM has been focusing more of its efforts on providing state and local government markets with analytics software and services, an effort it touts under the “Smarter Cities” marketing brand. The company is running a pilot project with Portland, Ore., to build a system to make usage predictions of municipal resources based off of operational data.”

    !!! “IBM® i2® COPLINK® Everywhere puts IBM i2 COPLINK access on an officer’s mobile handheld device” !!!
    http://knowledgehubmedia.com/ibm-i2-coplink/

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