The Panama Papers

There is a fascinating web site put up by the consortium of journalists working with the Mossack Fonseca papers. The home page is at panamapapers.icij.org with a signup page for new updates. The files they have go back 40 years, and the information contained in them has already led to the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland and yet one more FIFA scandal/resignation/set of police raids.

The law firm was quite happy to assist big-time thieves (helping launder the proceeds of the $200 Heathrow Airport gold heist), jailed sex offenders and political leaders. Their papers open a window into the web of banks and other players in the big-buck game of foreign shell companies that allow money laundering and tax evasion, as well as merely hiding wealth from public scrutiny, which is not illegal. The data includes 210,000 companies, many open only briefly. Wealth management is a big business, and top European banks are active in this area. Prominent among them are the private bank arms of HSBC (the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation).

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Prof of Economics, Wms School of Commerce, Washington and Lee University, Lexington VA
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2 Responses to The Panama Papers

  1. zhoun18 says:

    This is something really interesting to watch as a Chinese since I can search on Chinese websites. The paper revealed the list of seven most powerful Chinese communist party members’ secretive offshore properties. This is an emergency for Chinese government since they do not want people to know how corruptive they are or shake the stability of the country. The first day when the paper came out, they censored and locked all the information based on keywords like “Panama” or “Panama Papers.” There are others who talk about it online without mentioning the exact name, but most of these posts were blocked by the government as well. There is one thing I noticed when something like this happens, entertainment news or discussions on social issues always come out to change people’s subject. This time, a huge discussion on “Chinese girl got attacked in a Hotel and bystanders ignored” rose on the Internet and not many people were actually paying attention to Panama Paper, even though I am sure a good amount of them know it happened.

  2. inglism17 says:

    The Panama Papers have only confirmed what many have suspected for quite some time – especially in terms of the Chinese government higher-ups. It has been known that they have more money than those in their positions should have, so a confirmation of this does not seem to be that big of a deal in terms of scandal. It’ll be interesting to see how pervasive this tactic of hiding wealth offshore is though. Only time will tell if there are lasting impacts.

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