Opening Panama’s “Pandora Box”
“For us the last two days were just the beginning … there are still great stories & revelations to come out, so stay tuned to ICLJ …”
Frederik Obermaier – Investigative Journalist at Sueddeutsche Zeitung Newspaper
After almost a year’s investigation hundreds of the biggest elite frauds, tax evaders, celebrities and corrupt politicians were revealed after German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung opened Panama’s ‘Pandora Box’. Well-known politicians, influential figures, celebrities, sportspersons and business tycoons are running worried as more than 11 million documents were leaked from Panamanian Law Firm Mossack Fonseca, by an unknown source.
The documents stretching over 2.5 TERABYTES were later shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for in-depth analysis and investigation. The Panama Papers show how illegal income, money laundering, dodging sanctions, tax evasion and fraud are categorically organized by Mossack Fonseca. The law firm claims it has been operating for 40 years without a single criminal wrong-doing charge against it.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 3, 2016
Mossack Fonseca has setup over 240,000 offshore accounts for politicians, businessmen, celebrities and other elite personalities. The list (courtesy of Wikipedia) of world leaders includes:
o Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan
o Argentina – Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina
o Iceland – Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland
o Saudi Arabia – Salman, King of Saudi Arabia
o United Arab Emirates – Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Abu Dhabi
o Ukraine – Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine
o Georgia – Bidzina Ivanishvili, Prime Minister of Georgia
o Iraq – Ayad Allawi, Acting Prime Minister of Iraq
o Jordan – Ali Abu al-Ragheb, Prime Minister of Jordan
o Qatar – Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar
o Qatar – Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar
o Sudan – Ahmed al-Mirghani, President of Sudan
o Ukraine – Pavlo Lazarenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine
o Moldova – Ion Sturza, Prime Minister of Moldova
Mossack Fonseca… Who?
To the amazement of journalists, privacy advocates, investigation agencies, and academics no one has ever heard of the secretive law firm aiding possible crime in over 42 countries. Over 40 years of operations the company was working discretely, providing safe haven for wealthy clients across the world, some more notorious than others.
Mossack Fonseca has historically utilized numerous tax havens like Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands amongst others for their clients. The offshore structure model however is considered entirely legal (basically a tax evasion loophole) it’s the accounting for the sources of the funds invested in the offshore entities that are the major concern.
— Fusion (@ThisIsFusion) April 6, 2016
Mossack Fonseca has administered and created over 300,000 offshore companies with a large number registered in British territories and in the UK.
The Saga Begins
Various world leaders including the French Premiere Francois Hollande claim the Panama exposé as “Good Revelations”. It is expected that a crackdown on the alleged perpetrators will increase tax revenues. France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands have all begun investigating individuals named in offshore structure frauds.
— smh.com.au (@smh) April 5, 2016
Following the panama exposé, 12 current or former heads of the state and 60 people linked to current or former world leaders have been exposed. This includes Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugson, who should be quite happy to know how wealthy wife is but has now been forced to resign as Iceland’s Prime Minister.
The documents reveal how Mossack Fonseca provided financial services that were designed to assist clients in hiding wealth, evading taxes, and laundering money from undeclared sources. For instance, American millionaire and life coach Marianna Olszewski, who availed Mossack Fonseca’s services to conceal her wealth from U.S. authorities by displaying fake ownership records. Such acts are listed in direct breach of international regulations for money laundering.
Names also include that of close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, PM UK David Cameron’s father, the current Saudi King Salman, former Emir of Qatar, footballer Lionel Messi & his father, numerous FIFA officials plus many other prominent heads of states, celebrities, sportsmen, bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians.
Resignation of Iceland’s PM may explain why the UK PM is so insistent public has no right to know a PM’s “private” finances. #PanamaPapers
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 5, 2016
Director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist “Gerard Ryle” added that the Panama Papers include some of the biggest frauds of history up till now. The frauds involve money laundering, instances of tax evasion and other felonies by Mossack Fonseca in over 40 years. The extent of the documents is enough to shock the whole world and there are 11.5 million of them. Here is a brilliant tweet that puts things in perspective:
— M Barak Cherguia (@CherguiaMbark) April 5, 2016
In a Nutshell
The bell has been rung and a new storm has hit the geopolitical landscape. With one victim claimed not 3 days after the Panama Papers leaks in form of the Iceland PM, there are some very prominent names that will come under scrutiny in the coming weeks. According to Frederik Obermaier of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung Newspaper there is still a huge pile of data that will be released in coming weeks, as he calls on for people to stay tuned to the ICLJ.
Let us know what your feeling are on the issue, drop a comment in the discussion section below. Tweet to us @VPNRanks and hit the share button if you like the post. Stay tuned for more updates on the saga, plus look up #PanamaPapers on twitter for more resources.