5 Apr 2016

Mossack Fonseca - anyone notice?

This morning as I drove through the torpid eastern sprawl… I tuned into a morning radio news talk host acidly complaining that his own corporation had the nation’s treasurer on question time.... and yet never asked anything about the Panama Papers, or so much as breathed the name Mossack Fonseca.
Even though hundreds of our citizens are implicated, and a lot has been said recently about tax fraud.

It’s hard to gauge whether this oversight was because there had been multiple stories of colossal financial impropriety breaking across the region…. An Australian news crew had recently been detained in Malaysia for covering the multi-billion dollar scandal engulfing that county’s government. 

The global oil market fixing scandal that had consumed a team of investigative reporters for years had also spilled on Fairfax with Huffington, even as Fairfax was being threatened.

Thematically similar dirty laundry.

So maybe this Mossack Fonseca thing just crept up on news editors, and they didn't scope its depth?  
No. I don’t buy that. Not really.
It's the biggest info leak in history. Heads of state are implicated. But some news sites are being circumspect. Why?

The New York Times saw fit to report it, sort of, but not as the leading item, oh no… that honour went to goings on in Brazil.
How does the leadership of say… Russia and China … compete for coverage with Brazil? No disrespect to Brazil, that is....
Vladimir Putin is in this. Did we all suddenly lose interest in him?

But to be fair (momentarily) at least it was mentioned…  Not so in that country where they shoot you for corruption (unless you’re the people in charge):  

“It has been dubbed the biggest data leak in history; but within the confines of China's increasingly walled-off internet, the Panama Papers have barely registered a ripple.

The unprecedented leak of millions of documents from the database of offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the secret offshore money networks of some of the world's most powerful and wealthiest elite, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The trouble for Chinese internet censors: the 2.6 terabyte trove of documents also named the family members of at least eight current or former members of the Communist Party's elite Politburo Standing Committee including Deng Jiagui, the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping.

Despite dominating the international news agenda (really? are you sure?), the explosive findings garnered scarce coverage on the mainland and was left untouched by the party's main state-run news outlets on Monday.” 

A short incomplete list of people we've heard of who are named: 

Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine,

Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia,

Ian Cameron, father of David Cameron, British Prime Minister and noted austerity fan,

Juan Pedro Damiani – FIFA ethics committee member (“FIFA ethics”… you have to chuckle),

Oh and the prime minister of Iceland. Some name like a Viking king on the face of schoolboy who ate too much porridge. Strangely he gets mentioned more than anyone else. Is that because Iceland has no oil AND no nukes and he has crappy lawyers?

But the headline at the NYT of the moment:
“Cruz Is Fuming Because Kasich Won’t Bow Out of G.O.P. Race”.

Ted Cruz is fuming? That's more report-worthy?
Well thanks for that earth-shattering update, NYT .
”Your Evening Briefing - Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.” 11 items!
Nope. No mention of Mossack Fonseca there… not important enough.
It’s in the World news section. Under ‘Europe’.
Yeah ‘Europe’… Where news in America goes to die, unless it’s about terrorism.
Did you even know China was in Europe? Neither did I. For that matter I didn’t know that Panama was in Europe either. Iceland is, I guess.

And just for contrast: The Guardian newspaper:
The Mossack Fonseca/Panama Papers story is the front page and headline number one, two, three, four, five and six.

I guess they’ve worked out their owners aren’t implicated. Maybe. I have no idea.

Maybe they just thought a story of that takes in that many names in that many governments in that many countries about that much money might be newsworthy in a world where some of these self-same people having been telling everyone else to tighten their belts - since a bunch of venal cowboys crashed the world economy and blighted a generation without even one of them ever seeing the inside of a prison cell where none of the above-named will ever go either.


  1. This all is infuriating. And the most infuriating is this:

    Not one US name is in the report. Why? Because it's legal here to evade taxes. Yes, it's legal. The Panama Trade Act actually made legal for corporations and individuals to shelter (launder) money in Panama.

    Four years ago, Bernie Sanders was in the Senate opposing this act. I can still vaguely remember the headlines and a bit of the story as he berated Congress for making it simple for the US corporate pigs, and just the plain ol' rich ones too, to hide money from our taxes/

    All the while, our infrastructure is falling apart, people are losing their houses to the corporate bailout, the taxes for the middle class and poor just keep going up and the benefits for the poor keep dropping like a rock.

    "The Colombia FTA was approved in the House by 231 Republicans and 31 Democrats, while nine Republicans and 158 Democrats voted against it; the Senate approved the agreement by a 66-33 vote, with 30 of the “no” votes coming from Democrats, one from Sanders, and two from Republicans."


    Our Congress and even the President is trying their best to support the very wealthy and placing the burden on the regular ol' "Joe the Plummers" in this nation by making this garbage legal.

    When this first broke, I was wondering why there was a conspicuous absence of US names on the list. Because they are encouraged to rob our nation by the politicians we elected.

    1. That absence is curious. Maybe this part of the reason coverage in the news in the US has been somewhat muted relative to the scale of the leak.
      The German Newspaper that obtained the info says there is more info to come.

  2. Another comment that I've read is that it is easy to come by onshore havens in the US - people don't need to go offshore to have a shell company.