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Thread: Massive document leak on elite tax havens

  1. #1
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    Massive document leak on elite tax havens

    A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth.

    Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

    They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.

    The company says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing.

    The documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data, including dictators accused of looting their own countries.

    They were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
    BBC Panorama and The Guardian are among 107 media organisations in 78 countries that have been analysing the documents. The BBC does not know the identity of the source who provided them.

    Panama Papers - tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

    Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations in 78 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC doesn't know the identity of the source

    They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.

    Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing

    Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ, said the documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years.

    "I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents," he said.

    The data contains secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

    Russian connection
    It also reveals a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring that was run by a Russian bank and involved close associates of President Putin.

    The operation was run by Bank Rossiya, which is subject to US and EU sanctions following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

    The documents reveal for the first time how the bank operates.

    Money has been channelled through offshore companies, two of which were officially owned by one of the Russian president's closest friends.

    Concert cellist Sergei Roldugin has known Vladimir Putin since they were teenagers and is godfather to the president's daughter Maria.

    On paper, Mr Roldugin has personally made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from suspicious deals.

    But documents from Mr Roldugin's companies state that: "The company is a corporate screen established principally to protect the identity and confidentiality of the ultimate beneficial owner of the company."

    Iceland connection
    Mossack Fonseca data also shows how Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson had an undeclared interest in his country's bailed-out banks.

    Mr Gunnlaugsson has been accused of hiding millions of dollars of investments in his country's banks behind a secretive offshore company.

    Leaked documents show that Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought offshore company Wintris in 2007.

    He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife for $1 (70p), eight months later.

    Mr Gunnlaugsson is now facing calls for his resignation. He says he has not broken any rules, and his wife did not benefit financially from his decisions.

    The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mr Gunnlaugsson's wife Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir in 2015.

    'Beyond reproach'
    In addition, Mossack Fonseca supplied a front man who pretended to own $1.8m, so the real owner could get the cash from the bank without revealing their identity

    Mossack Fonseca says it has always complied with international protocols to ensure the companies they incorporate are not used for tax evasion, money-laundering, terrorist finance or other illicit purposes.

    The company says it conducts thorough due diligence and regrets any misuse of its services.

    "For 40 years Mossack Fonseca has operated beyond reproach in our home country and in other jurisdictions where we have operations. Our firm has never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing.

    "If we detect suspicious activity or misconduct, we are quick to report it to the authorities. Similarly, when authorities approach us with evidence of possible misconduct, we always cooperate fully with them."

    Mossack Fonseca says offshore companies are available worldwide and are used for a variety of legitimate purposes.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35918844

    Source of the leaks unknown, some legend if it was an individual.

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    Can be assumed that it was an individual or small group. The data doesn't seem to be particularly "cut" towards specific political purposes.

    ICIJ has published their - a bit more exhaustive - analysis of the documents here (occasionally works). Süddeutsche's similar site would be here if the server wouldn't be DDOSed right now.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Only names people who are safe to name, Mubarak, Gaddafi, 'friends' of Putin & Icelandic PM.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Only names people who are safe to name, Mubarak, Gaddafi, 'friends' of Putin & Icelandic PM.
    I think the most interesting names are Petro Poroshenko due to the upcoming Ukraine referendum, and Xi Jinping. Xi is especially interesting because he built his political brand on fighting corruption and has used a widespread anti-corruption campaign in China to rid himself of high level political opponents. The story is prominent in the NYT, BBC, Times of India, but pointedly absent from Xinhua.

    On the other hand, I don't think anyone is shocked to find out that elites from the ME, Russia, and South America are involved. Just business as usual on that front.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 04 Apr 16, at 15:37.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Cameron's father is what caught my eye
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I think the most interesting names are Petro Poroshenko due to the upcoming Ukraine referendum, and Xi Jinping. Xi is especially interesting because he built his political brand on fighting corruption and has used a widespread anti-corruption campaign in China to rid himself of high level political opponents. The story is prominent in the NYT, BBC, Times of India, but pointedly absent from Xinhua.

    On the other hand, I don't think anyone is shocked to find out that elites from the ME, Russia, and South America are involved. Just business as usual on that front.
    My local says 'family' of Xi Jinping. THis does not surprise me, its sop for indian politicians to declare assets which usually turn out to be very modest but their family is loaded to the hilt.

    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/...ma-papers.html

    This is going to be another wiki leaks saga with equally meager returns.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    My local says 'family' of Xi Jinping.
    Looks like this is right. It appears China is actively censoring related online discussions. Not sure why honestly, I feel like the censorship would make it look worse than it actually is.

    Panama papers: China censors online discussion

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    I assume the lack of US names in these reports is because Delaware and Nevada provide that sort of secretive service on-shore.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    I assume the lack of US names in these reports is because Delaware and Nevada provide that sort of secretive service on-shore.
    Since the passage of FATCA it has become increasingly risky to hide money in offshore tax havens. Much of the West is going along with FATCA which is probably why you haven't seen as much western involvement.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I think the most interesting names are Petro Poroshenko due to the upcoming Ukraine referendum, and Xi Jinping. Xi is especially interesting because he built his political brand on fighting corruption and has used a widespread anti-corruption campaign in China to rid himself of high level political opponents. The story is prominent in the NYT, BBC, Times of India, but pointedly absent from Xinhua.

    On the other hand, I don't think anyone is shocked to find out that elites from the ME, Russia, and South America are involved. Just business as usual on that front.
    I thought I saw Xi called out by some Chinese news programs. Maybe that was from Taiwan and not mainland China.

    Hypocrites... the lot of them.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Found it: http://www.politico.com/agenda/story...ericans-000083
    The Panama Papers: Where are the Americans?

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    The German rundown is pretty boring.

    - a Siemens manager (with offshore accounts possibly connected to a recent corruption scandal)
    - a couple (dozen) sports celebs
    - the "chicken baron" Anton Pohlmann
    - the probably best-known postwar German secret agent (Werner Mauss)

    The last case is open for some speculation, especially as some of those offshore companies already existed in the 80s and might have been used in clandestine money transfers to Colombian and Lebanese rebel groups. Mauss was working for several intelligence agencies under Kohl's tenure. Süddeutsche is also investigating why Mauss has a 2014-issued ID card filed in the Panama Papers under an alias when the government says they relieved him from service and no longer issued him an alias ID since 2000.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    The Panama Papers: Where are the Americans?
    heh, americans are all upstanding citizens that regularly pay their tithes whenever asked.

    Journalists from 75 countries behind this sting. huh ? why. what is the motivation here.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Since the passage of FATCA it has become increasingly risky to hide money in offshore tax havens. Much of the West is going along with FATCA which is probably why you haven't seen as much western involvement.
    What is the motivation for this FATCA bollocks ?

    After 2008, it became increasingly harder to get rreturns in the US, so send the money abroad where it can fetch higher returns. The govt misses its usual quotas and decides to go after money invested outside. Naturally it must be illegal. Anything the damn govt does not get a cut out off always is.

    There is a general trend here in countries to send money abroad, better returns. Govts losing revenues decide to clamp down. Where are those foreigners sending their money ? a lot goes to the US contributing to a stronger dollar.

    There is also this moral streak here. People wanting their pols to be naked results in laws passed that will make them naked too. More onerous tax returns than earlier. Capital controls. They call it transparency :|

    This means taxes are going to rise and they want you to tell them everything you got so you can't hide anything in the future. hah.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 06 Apr 16, at 14:32.

  14. #14
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    What is the motivation for this FATCA bollocks?
    To collect taxes on non-US financial accounts owned by U.S. citizens. When passed, it was assumed that the cost to go after these accounts would be more than offset by the taxes collected. In practice it hasn't lost money, but it hasn't produced as much of a return as anticipated either.

    Much of the world has signed on to it however, and I think there is an argument to be made that the US is the only country with the clout to really start clamping down on the global trend of the wealthy hiding assets offshore. Afterall, FIFA was running roughshod over laws and countries until the US stepped in and slapped them down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    There is a general trend here in countries to send money abroad, better returns. Govts losing revenues decide to clamp down. Where are those foreigners sending their money ? a lot goes to the US contributing to a stronger dollar.
    I'd argue that the U.S. doesn't actually want a stronger dollar as all the foreign investment following the sluggish growth in Europe and Asia is boosting the dollar and hurting U.S. manufacturing competitiveness for exports. The Federal Reserve has said that they want to see about 2% inflation, but it hasn't happened in almost a decade now despite 0% interest rates. The foreign investment isn't going into U.S. companies, but treasury bonds and (often vacant) housing. Foreign investors have been looking for safe rather than profitable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    This means taxes are going to rise and they want you to tell them everything you got so you can't hide anything in the future. hah.
    Taxes go up for everyone else when the wealthiest members of society get out of paying what they owe.

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    Analysis on NPR this morning. Quick overview and country by country breakdown.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-w...ound-the-world
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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