Panama Papers expose the biggest offshore companies and money laundering scandal
A new investigation published today by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), based on the Panama Papers, is being described as the biggest leak of inside information in history based on more than 11.5 million documents. It exposes offshore links of some of the most powerful persons on earth and their close relatives.
The leak by ICIJ exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders.
The headline in The Indian Express today screams
Indians in Panama Papers list: Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, KP Singh, Iqbal Mirchi, Adani elder brother
Revealing the Indian connection, the Indian express expose underlines that the biggest leak of over 11 million documents of Panama law firm features over 500 Indians linked to offshore firms, finds 8-month investigation by a team of The Indian Express led by Ritu Sarin, Executive Editor (News & Investigations).
I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express – Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd, and Tramp Shipping Ltd. I have never been a director of any of the above stated companies. It is possible that my name has been misused. I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas. Monies that I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law, including remittances through LRS, after paying Indian taxes. In any event the news report in Indian Express does not even suggest any illegality on my part. – Amitabh Bachchan on Twitter, April 5, 2016
Newsroom24x7 is quoting extensively from the Panama Papers published by ICIJ to meet the objective of keeping the public and concerned authorities informed.
“The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist, an unfolding political money laundering affair in Brazil and bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer.
They also provide details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 other politicians and public officials around the world and show how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.
The Panama Papers expose offshore companies controlled by some executive heads of States, including the Prime Minister Pakistan. They also include the names of at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’ve done business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations, including North Korea and Iran.
The documents make it clear that major banks are big drivers behind the creation of hard-to-trace companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other offshore havens. The files list nearly 15,600 paper companies that banks set up for clients who want keep their finances under wraps, including thousands created by international giants UBS and HSBC.
The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015.
The leaked records — which were reviewed by a team of more than 370 journalists from 76 countries — come from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, that has branches in Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and more than 35 other places around the globe.
Mossack Fonseca’s fingers are in Africa’s diamond trade, the international art market and other businesses that thrive on secrecy.
The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist to the bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer.
The leaked documents reveal that the law firm of Juan Pedro Damiani, a member of FIFA’s ethics committee, had business relationships with three men who have been indicted in the FIFA scandal — former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo and Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, the father-son team accused of paying bribes to win broadcast rights to Latin American soccer events.
In the largest media collaboration ever undertaken, journalists working in more than 25 languages dug into Mossack Fonseca’s inner workings and traced the secret dealings of the law firm’s customers around the world. They shared information and hunted down leads generated by the leaked files using corporate filings, property records, financial disclosures, court documents and interviews with money laundering experts and law-enforcement officials.
Before dawn on Nov. 26, 1983, six robbers slipped into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse at London’s Heathrow Airport. The thugs tied up the security guards, doused them in gasoline, lit a match and threatened to set them afire unless they opened the warehouse’s vault. Inside, the thieves found nearly 7,000 gold bars, diamonds and cash.
“Thanks ever so much for your help. Have a nice Christmas,” one of the crooks said as they departed.
British media dubbed the heist the “Crime of the Century.” Much of the loot — including the cash reaped by melting the gold and selling it — was never recovered. Where the missing money went is a mystery that continues to fascinate students of England’s underworld.
Sixteen months after the robbery, the records show, Mossack Fonseca set up a Panama shell company called Feberion Inc. Jürgen Mossack was one the company’s three “nominee” directors, a term used in the business for stand-ins who control a company on paper but exercise no real authority over its activities.
An internal memo written by Mossack shows he was aware in 1986 that the company was “apparently involved in the management of money from the famous London crime. The company itself has not been used illegally, but it could be that the company invested money through bank accounts and properties that was illegitimately sourced.”
A spokesman for the law firm said any allegations the firm helped shield the proceeds of the Brink’s-Mat robbery “are entirely false.” The spokesman said Jürgen Mossack “never had any dealings” with Parry and was never contacted by police about the case.
Mossack Fonseca’s defense of the dodgy company illustrates how far many offshore operatives will go to serve their customers’ interests.
The offshore system relies on a sprawling global industry of bankers, lawyers, accountants and these go-betweens who work together to protect their clients’ secrets. These secrecy experts use anonymous companies, trusts and other paper entities to create complex structures that can be used to disguise the origins of dirty money.
From its base in Panama, one of the world’s top financial secrecy zones, Mossack Fonseca seeds anonymous companies in Panama, the British Virgin Islands and other financial havens.
The law firm has worked closely with big banks and big law firms in places like The Netherlands, Mexico, the United States and Switzerland, helping clients move money or slash their tax bills, the secret records show.
The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from the late 1970s through the end of 2015. It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world – providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.
The little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama, , that has branches in London, Beijing, Miami, Zurich and more than 35 other places around the globe is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets. The law firm’s leaked internal files contain information on 214,000 offshore companies connected to people in 200 countries and territories.”