07 April 2016

Your Panama Papers Update

Bernie Sanders Predicted this in 2011

There appears to be a dearth of US money launderers reported
Rather unsurprisingly, Bernie Sanders is noting his opposition, and Hillary Clinton's support for the trade deal in his campaign:
Responding to the 11.5 million documents leaked this week showing how a Panama law firm helped some of the world's wealthiest people establish offshore tax havens on the Central American country — the so-called Panama Papers — Bernie Sanders on Tuesday vowed to end the Panama Free Trade Agreement, tying Hillary Clinton to the same policies that he claimed fostered the practice.

“The Panama Free Trade Agreement put a stamp of approval on Panama, a world leader when it comes to allowing the wealthy and the powerful to avoid taxes," the Vermont senator said in a statement released through his campaign, adding that he has been opposed to it "from day one."

Vowing to use his authority as president to "terminate the Panama Free Trade Agreement within six months," Sanders said his administration would "conduct an immediate investigation into U.S. banks, corporations and wealthy individuals who have been stashing their cash in Panama to avoid taxes."

"If any of them have violated U.S. law, my administration will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," he said.

Sanders also said that he had correctly predicted that the passage of the trade deal "would make it easier, not harder, for the wealthy and large corporations to evade taxes by sheltering billions of dollars offshore."

"I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared," he said, before pivoting to Clinton. “My opponent, on the other hand, opposed this trade agreement when she was running against Barack Obama for president in 2008. But when it really mattered she quickly reversed course and helped push the Panama Free Trade Agreement through Congress as Secretary of State. The results have been a disaster."
It is not an unreasonable indictment of Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's record on so called free trade agreements.

In what might be a perfect example of Chutzpah, the state of Wyoming, a shell corporation factory that has one corporation for every 4½ residents, has initiated an investigation of a Wyoming based law firm at the center of the scandal:
The Wyoming arm of the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers global scandal is under investigation by Wyoming state officials for failing to maintain required statutory information about companies registering there, Secretary of State Ed Murray said Wednesday.

Upon learning of the Panama Papers, a massive leak of secret offshore company data reported on by McClatchy and more than 100 other media partners around the globe, Wyoming initiated an audit of 24 companies registered in the state by the law firm Mossack Fonseca and its partners, he said.

“The audit concluded around noon on Monday, April 4th, and determined that M.F. Corporate Services Wyoming LLC failed to maintain the required statutory information for performing the duties of a registered agent under Wyoming law,” Murray said in a statement.

The state followed immediately with administrative action, demanding that required information be provided.

“Subsequently, M.F. Corporate Services did provide the information,” the secretary of state’s office said, adding that Murray also briefed law enforcement that day. “This investigation of this matter is ongoing.”
This is near toxic levels of hypocrisy.

In an interesting twist of fate, Ken Silverstien, then a reporter at The Intercept was all over the story of Mossack Fonseca 14 months ago, though his employer refused to publish it, so he published on Vice.com.

And then Pierre Omidyar, the publisher of The Intercept, got in his face.
I wonder if perhaps the eBay founder (Omidyar) might have some "interesting" corporate structures for his billions.

The reporting this far seems to be what Yves Smith calls, "The Intercept model, not [the] Wikileaks model".  See also Craig Murray's critique of the coverage thus far.

Almost all the reporting thus far, with the exception of Icelands now former PM, has been directed primarily at regimes hostile to the west, with most of the coverage being screaming about Vladimir Putin.

Also note that Suddeutsche Zeitung brought in International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
Not also the picture in the tweet.

The selective nature of releases to this point also raises the issue that those in the files but not yet exposed may be likely targets for blackmail: (Moon of Alabama)
A real leak of data from a law firm in Panama would be very interesting. Many rich people and/or politicians hide money in shell companies that such firms in Panama provide. But the current heavily promoted "leak" of such data to several NATO supporting news organization and a US government financed "Non Government Organization" is just a lame attempt to smear some people the U.S. empire dislikes. It also creates a huge blackmail opportunity by NOT publishing certain data in return for this or that desired favor.
Both Murray and MoA are implying that the US/NATO state security apparatus are somehow involved in the release of this data.

I have not made up my mind, but if we don't see some prominent western names in the releases in the next few weeks, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson doesn't count, then I will be much more inclined to take their view.


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