News Panama Papers - Huge tax leak exposes Putin aides, world leaders, stars

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NZ is embroiled in this situation the leaked documents show.

The following are the first two questions of Questions for Oral Answers 5th April 2016 in NZ's House of Representatives regarding this issue:
1. http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/42452 [Broken] and
2. http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/42453 [Broken]
 
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Astronuc

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And I wouldn't call it "sitting".
By 'sitting' I meant not sharing the fact that they had 11.5 million documents describing illicit activities, e.g., tax evasion, of numerous heads of state and celebrities.

NPR did a news article mentioning that the US DoJ was reviewing the documents.

'The Hidden Wealth Of Nations' Author Explores World Of Offshore Tax Havens
http://www.npr.org/2016/04/04/473004992/the-hidden-wealth-of-nations-author-explores-world-of-offshore-tax-havens
ZUCMAN: Of course. You know, it's just one firm in one tax haven, and there is much more going on. And if you want to have a comprehensive view of the scale of problem, you need to look at macroeconomic statistics. And when you do that, you see that there's about 8 percent of the world's financial wealth that is held in tax havens globally. So that's about $7.6 trillion today, a huge amount of wealth.

SHAPIRO: Can you distinguish between how much of this is illegal behavior as opposed to just unethical behavior?

ZUCMAN: Yes. So the data that we have suggests that out of the $7.6 trillion total, about 20 percent of this wealth is duly reported on tax returns so does not correspond to illegal behavior. But 80 percent is not reported, and that's criminal tax evasion.
Panama Papers Shed Light On Global Business Of Tax Avoidance
http://www.npr.org/2016/04/04/473004957/panama-papers-shed-light-on-global-business-of-tax-avoidance

Panama Papers: Here's What You Need To Know (So Far)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/04/472985787/heres-what-you-need-to-know-so-far-about-panama-papers

Shell companies are at the heart of the "Panama Papers," but what are they?
http://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/04/business/shell

Legitimate uses for shell companies: "Firms often set them up when they want to move quietly, such as a real estate company that wants to buy up multiple properties without signaling its intention, or a tech company that wants to camouflage its next move from competitors. Using a shell company can be preferable in certain situations involving raising capital or expanding overseas. And of course, companies use them to reduce tax burdens in ways that are legal, though extremely controversial."

Illegitimate uses for shell companies: ". . . illegally hide income and evade taxes, [or money laundering, or financing illicit activities, e.g., drug or arms trafficking, . . ."
 

OmCheeto

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By 'sitting' I meant not sharing the fact that they had 11.5 million documents describing illicit activities, e.g., tax evasion, of numerous heads of state and celebrities.

NPR did a news article mentioning that the US DoJ was reviewing the documents.

'The Hidden Wealth Of Nations' Author Explores World Of Offshore Tax Havens
http://www.npr.org/2016/04/04/473004992/the-hidden-wealth-of-nations-author-explores-world-of-offshore-tax-havens
...SHAPIRO: Can you distinguish between how much of this is illegal behavior as opposed to just unethical behavior?

ZUCMAN: Yes. So the data that we have suggests that out of the $7.6 trillion total, about 20 percent of this wealth is duly reported on tax returns so does not correspond to illegal behavior. But 80 percent is not reported, and that's criminal tax evasion.
I think Zucman's comment was one good reason to "sit" on the fact that they had the documents. What if they had discovered that 100% of the wealth had been reported on tax returns? Then there wouldn't have been any criminal activity, and there wouldn't be a story.

Also, if the crooks involved had known about it, they might have dissociated themselves from these activities over the last year. Or thought up excuses; "Well, my accountant takes care of 100% of my finances, so I had no knowledge of this. My accountant is a crook. I am not a crook".

Thirdly, some of these journalists probably live in countries where the governments murder people for such activity.

I think sitting on the story was a brilliant move.

Panama Papers Shed Light On Global Business Of Tax Avoidance
http://www.npr.org/2016/04/04/473004957/panama-papers-shed-light-on-global-business-of-tax-avoidance

Panama Papers: Here's What You Need To Know (So Far)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/04/472985787/heres-what-you-need-to-know-so-far-about-panama-papers

Shell companies are at the heart of the "Panama Papers," but what are they?
http://www.marketplace.org/2016/04/04/business/shell

Legitimate uses for shell companies: "Firms often set them up when they want to move quietly, such as a real estate company that wants to buy up multiple properties without signaling its intention, or a tech company that wants to camouflage its next move from competitors. Using a shell company can be preferable in certain situations involving raising capital or expanding overseas. And of course, companies use them to reduce tax burdens in ways that are legal, though extremely controversial."

Illegitimate uses for shell companies: ". . . illegally hide income and evade taxes, [or money laundering, or financing illicit activities, e.g., drug or arms trafficking, . . ."
I'll probably wait until everything is exposed before I start pointing fingers. A few of people on the list may be part of the 20% innocent.

And it's not like this is a new thing. Didn't General Electric basically say that they took all of their profits and put them offshore in their annual report, some years back? Yup.

And didn't Obama once complain about this type of activity being centered in the Cayman Islands way back when? What ever happened to that story?

Obama targets Cayman 'tax scam' [Politifact]
By Alex Leary on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 at 7:03 p.m.

SUMMARY: A building in the Cayman Islands houses thousands of corporations. Sen. Barack Obama calls it "the biggest tax scam on record." But until legislation currently proposed by Obama and others becomes law, it isn't.
...
[conclusion of article]
Obama is not the first politician to focus on tax havens. In 2004, John Kerry took a similar approach. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, Obama's chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, have also invoked the issue in the campaign.

But experts say any attempts at reform, while perhaps worthwhile, will not lead to a honeypot for domestic initiatives.

"There's absolutely no question that there's a lot of international tax avoidance," said Eric Toder, an expert with the nonpartisan Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. "But I would be skeptical of any politician who is promising to get a lot of revenue."
Some people have been questioning why nobody from the USA has been mentioned yet. Maybe it's because here, tax scamming is legal? o0)
 

Astronuc

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OmCheeto

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I... I can't stop laughing at this!
Don't laugh!
I really wish I knew my Spanish better.......

UMQw-MdQ_bigger.jpg
Miguel Neves ‏@NevesMiguel 8m8 minutes ago
Los #PanamaPapers en #LosSimpson hace 20 años https://youtu.be/u7vPbhlpSYo
Translated from Spanish by Bing
The #PanamaPapers in #LosSimpson for 20 years



No! Not Krusty, too......

hmmmm.....
(google google google)

Drats, Drak! I can't find an English version.
But wiki has a writeup on the episode:
Bart the Fink
Aired: February 11, 1996
In this episode, Bart ruins Krusty the Clown's career by accidentally exposing Krusty as one of the biggest tax cheats in American history.
...
Anyone know how to say "Doh!" in Español?
 

OmCheeto

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Previously did not even know that physical forum so politicized and so trusting to the tabloids and anonymous publications.
Now I know.
 

OmCheeto

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Previously did not even know that physical forum so politicized and so trusting to the tabloids and anonymous publications.
Now I know.
Не понимаю. хммм... Что газеты в Беларуси говорят? = (I don't understand. hmmm... What do the newspapers in Belarus say?)
 

OmCheeto

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Ah!

66_cUYfj_bigger.jpg
Edward Snowden ‏@Snowden 10m10 minutes ago
Edward Snowden Retweeted Richard Milne
In letter to media, #Iceland's current government attempts to "un-resign" the PM. Seems likely to provoke elections.
be26e92384257ffb75b8a0d4953291f7_bigger.jpe
Richard Milne‏@rmilneNordic
What a bonkers day in Iceland. PM resigns, only for PR to claim he didn't. PM and president basically accuse each other of lying. And tmw?​

I guess we have to wait a few days after each announcement to find out whether or not the person had his fingers crossed.

ps. Not sure if that act is internationally recognized:
Crossed fingers: Some people, mostly children, also use the gesture to excuse their telling of a white lie. By extension, a similar belief is that crossing one's fingers invalidates a promise being made.
 
There are supposedly Hillary Clinton implications in these papers too.

Just Googling them now.

I think something about her suppressing the minimum wage of Haiti?
 
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There are supposedly Hillary Clinton implications in these papers too.

Just Googling them now.

I think something about her suppressing the minimum wage of Haiti?
That was in the Wikileaks papers. Haiti tried to raise the minimum wage to 64 cents. She pressured them into keeping it at 34 cents. Give or take a few cents.
 
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Не понимаю. хммм... Что газеты в Беларуси говорят? = (I don't understand. hmmm... What do the newspapers in Belarus say?)
What do you mean?
The most important question: Who paid for the investigation? US government, Soros funded Panama Papers to attack Putin – WikiLeaks https://www.rt.com/news/338683-wikileaks-usaid-putin-attack/
About USA-angels 'Panama Papers’ company set up 1000+ businesses in USA https://www.rt.com/usa/338684-panama-papers-usa-connections/
 

Astronuc

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A top haven for tax cheats that may surprise you: the US
https://taxes.yahoo.com/post/142356210008/a-top-haven-for-tax-cheats-that-may-surprise-you
America’s openness to foreign tax evaders is coming under new scrutiny after the leak this week of 11.5 million confidential documents from a Panamanian law firm. The Panama Papers show how some of the world’s richest people hide assets in shell companies to avoid paying taxes.
America itself is emerging as a top tax haven alongside the likes of Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Panama, those seeking reform of the international tax system say. And states such as Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming, in particular, are competing with each other to provide foreigners with the secrecy they crave.
 
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The cellist's remarks here sound like a veiled confession to me:

Asked about the offshore companies linked to him last week, Rodulgin said: “Guys, to be honest I am not ready to give comments now … These are delicate issues. I was connected to this business a long time ago. Before ‘perestroika’. It happened … And then it started growing and such things happened. The House of Music [in St Petersburg] is subsidised from this money.”
http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/panama-papers-money-hidden-offshore

It sounds like he's admitting he got embroiled in these schemes quite a long time ago, under different circumstances, and it has evolved with the passage of time to its present configuration.
 

OmCheeto

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What do you mean?
The most important question: Who paid for the investigation? US government, Soros funded Panama Papers to attack Putin – WikiLeaks https://www.rt.com/news/338683-wikileaks-usaid-putin-attack/
About USA-angels 'Panama Papers’ company set up 1000+ businesses in USA https://www.rt.com/usa/338684-panama-papers-usa-connections/
I actually don't believe anything yet. There is so much garbage out there to filter through, that I decided to follow only what Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier tweet about. Bastian is the journalist that "John Doe" initially contacted. He and Frederik were apparently writing a book about the experience, while it was happening.

Here are a couple of interesting articles

Bastian Obermayer ‏@b_obermayer [9:23 pm PDT 5 Apr 2016]
Here's @_nicolaclark from @nytimes about #panamapapers http://nyti.ms/239rsyr @icij @lukeharding1968 @RyleGerard @SZ_Investigativ
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/business/media/how-a-cryptic-message-interested-in-data-led-to-the-panama-papers.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

The above article is probably a synopsis of the book, and answered some of my questions:
How can 400 people keep a secret like that for over a year?

How a Cryptic Message, ‘Interested in Data?,’ Led to the Panama Papers
...
With such a large number of people trolling through the same database, the partners needed to agree early on with a common strategy for collaboration and for parsing out the research, as well as a joint promise to hold off on publishing until everyone was ready. The partners held a series of secret meetings, some of which involved more than 100 people. The first took place at a rented room of the National Press Club in Washington in June, followed by others in Munich, London and Lillehammer, Norway.

“The danger was always that if something happened in the world and the reporters in that country would get terribly excited and want to publish right away,” Gerard Ryle, the director of ICIJ, said.
I was also fascinated by the logistics of the project. This is, after all, an international problem. How many languages were the documents written in?

While the original documents were written in 25 different languages, most of the communication on the forum took place in English, with reporters actively sharing interesting tidbits with the relevant specialized teams.
The following, points to an article, asking where all the American names are:

Bastian Obermayer ‏@b_obermayer [12:09 am PDT 6 Apr 2016]
The US and the #panamapapers, and why there might not be many US persons http://fusion.net/story/287671/americans-panama-papers-trove/ …​
Where are all the Americans in the Panama Papers?
...
So far, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has only been able to identify 211 people with U.S. addresses who own companies in the data (not all of whom we’ve been able to investigate yet). We don’t know if those 211 people are necessarily U.S. citizens. And that figure covers only data from recent years available on a Mossack Fonseca internal database — not all 11.5 million files from the leak.

In other words, that 211 number comes from just a small sliver of the data. “It’s a complete underestimate,” says Mar Cabra, head of the data and research unit at the ICIJ. Finding a precise number of Americans in the data is difficult.
Woo Hoo!
:smile:

Not sure about you, but I consider most American politicians, and their mega-rich business buddies, to be crooks.
Not all, but most.
 
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Here's an old article (Feb 2015) that lends credence to the idea "the US" is behind the Panama Papers leak:

In the latest post-Crimea ripple, these particular Russian rich — who reaped their wealth by mining oil, gas, ore, or just Moscow establishment connections — have cash that in the eyes of many Americans and Europeans, could be tainted. That puts banks in a confusing purgatory: Regulators don’t know whether the money they’re touching has gone through the hands of organizations that the U.S. and Europe have placed sanctions on in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict. And precisely because authorities are more vigilant than ever, banks can’t afford any error.

In short, no one wants to have much to do with Russia at all, says Jeffrey Mankoff, Russia/Eurasia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “It’s becoming increasingly isolated,” he says...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/11/russian-millionaire-europe_n_6664370.html

I say "lends credence to the idea." Which it does, but of course it's circumstantial evidence. Generally, it's true (according to the article) Russia has been placed on a Western 'to be shunned' list due to its over reaches in Crimea/Ukraine. Those elements in the US who are anti-Putin would certainly welcome the leaks, since they seem to taint him. Whether or not they somehow engineered them from scratch remains to be seen.
 
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OmCheeto

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Here's an old article (Feb 2015) that lends credence to the idea "the US" is behind the Panama Papers leak:


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/11/russian-millionaire-europe_n_6664370.html

I say "lends credence to the idea." Which it does, but of course it's circumstantial evidence. Generally, it's true (according to the article) Russia has been placed on a Western 'to be shunned' list due to its over reaches in Crimea/Ukraine. Those elements in the US who are anti-Putin would certainly welcome the leaks, since they seem to taint him. Whether or not they somehow engineered them from scratch remains to be seen.
As I implied earlier, I won't believe anything until I see it in a history book, 20 years from now.

I've been scratching my head about Russia since the fall of the Berlin wall, 24 years ago.
I seem to recall that just a few years later, Moscow was purported to have the most billionaires in the world.
According to Forbes, Moscow is now #3 on the list with the most billionaires.

How the heck did that happen? Weren't they all "equal" before that? Probably questions for another thread. But then again, maybe not.

hmmmm.....

I wonder if Abba predicted this, 40 years ago.


I find this all, a bit, funny.
 

OmCheeto

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One of my Facebook buddies shared the following a couple of days ago:

OPINION
Panama Papers: Why should we care?
The Panama Papers leak shows that it is not just the global tax system that is broken, but global governance itself.
06 Apr 2016 09:14 GMT
...
Ha! I've known for quite some time that the US governance system was broken.
Perhaps people around the world didn't realize such a thing could be possible in their countries.

...
In this sense, the unprecedented leak of nearly 40 years' worth of documents
...
40 years? Where did I just see that number?
Ah! Hahahahaha!

per wiki;
"Money, Money, Money" ... was released as a single on 1 November 1976
"Mossack Fonseca" ... was founded by German lawyer Jürgen Mossack in 1977

It's all Abba's fault......
 
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08/04/2016, 18:28

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone expressed the view that the publication of the Panamanian file may cause a serious blow to the reputation of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"Cameron's father for thirty years engaged in money laundering through Panama and did not pay taxes in the UK. Then his son, all denied, do not want to talk about it openly. It can be reproached and hypocrisy. Four years ago, during the election campaign for mayor, he accused me of tax evasion, even though I paid more taxes than required. And he knew it perfectly. In general, if you want to avoid paying taxes, you laundered money abroad, as did his father. I think Cameron - the most hypocritical prime minister of those I've seen in my life ", - he said.

Livingston suggested that Cameron had to resign at that time, when he came to power: "His government has caused the country a very great deal of damage. Suffered the poor, the community, who are desperately in need of investment. During the six years of the Cameron government has enabled a small elite to get richer and the poor attention paid no. He does not just have to resign, he should be put in jail. "
 
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How the heck did that happen? Weren't they all "equal" before that?
I don't know the details, but the groundwork for Russian billionaires was probably first laid in the early 1990s when Soviet Communism took a very serious hit:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17858981

Communism was the ideology preventing anyone from enriching themselves. In the absence of Communism, something bearing a certain resemblance to Capitalism could take root.
 

OmCheeto

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Another good reason why we should care about this:

Panama: Cheating “Epidemic” Crowds Out Honest Business, Implicates Banks
By Lynn Parramore
APR 6, 2016 | MONEY & BANKING

The Panama Papers are not simply a story of public corruption as depicted in news outlets like the Wall Street Journal, says former financial regulator William K. Black. They’re a reminder that such corruption destroys the possibility for honest businesses to succeed.
...
“Those who want to do business honestly simply can’t compete against people who don’t pay taxes,” says Black. A company may start out with strong values and principles, but if all of its competitors are cheating, that business will either just fail, or else will “grit their teeth and go for it.” Thus, still more cheaters, and fewer straight shooters.
...
Black and his fellow watchdogs are on the lookout for more than merely episodic cheating, but what he calls “really epidemic levels.” He asserts that what we have now is an epidemic.

“This is really dangerous for the world,” says Black.
...
I wonder if this type thing is partially responsible for what happened to Greece?
Extent of Greek tax evasion [wiki]
In the last quarter of 2005, 49% of the companies inspected by the tax authorities were found to have committed tax offenses while in January 2006 it fell to 41.6%. A study by researchers from the University of Chicago concluded that tax evasion in 2009 by self-employed professionals alone in Greece (accountants, dentists, lawyers, doctors, personal tutors and independent financial advisers) was €28 billion or 31% of the budget deficit that year.
The Tax Justice Network has said that there are over €20 billion in Swiss bank accounts held by Greeks. The former Finance Minister of Greece, Evangelos Venizelos, was quoted as saying "Around 15,000 individuals and companies owe the taxman 37 billion euros". Additionally, the TJN puts the number of Greek-owned off-shore companies to over 10,000.
 
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I wonder if this type thing is partially responsible for what happened to Greece?
In Greece, another problem.
I visited there twice and told me that a few years Greece took loans at 60 billion euros in Germany, bought fighters there. Distills the Turkish air force, invading every day in its airspace. Seen military airfields in many places of Greece.
Debts of only 5 years - 300 billion euros, a heavy burden for Greece.
 

OmCheeto

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In Greece, another problem.
I visited there twice and told me that a few years Greece took loans at 60 billion euros in Germany, bought fighters there. Distills the Turkish air force, invading every day in its airspace. Seen military airfields in many places of Greece.
Debts of only 5 years - 300 billion euros, a heavy burden for Greece.
There have been plenty of discussions of Greece here at the forum. One is still open.
Greece closes banks and imposes capital control 2015.06.28 - 2015.07.20 (still open)
All but bankrupt Greece and oil 2012.10.19 - 2012.10.23 (thread closed)
Greece, Italy and the Euro 2010.05.06 - 2012.06.26 (thread closed)
What is the reason of demonstration in Greece? 2008.12.13 - 2008-12.15 (thread closed)​

I'm not really interested in solving Greece's problem. They seem to have created it themselves. Much like the rest of the countries seem to have been doing.

ICIJ retweeted an interesting video a couple of hours ago:

ICIJ ‏@ICIJorg [2016.04.09 8:02am PDT]
#PanamaPapers The Shady World of Offshore Companies | Das Erste | NDR …​

Good for practicing your French, Spanish, German, English, and Russian. (Published on Apr 8, 2016)
Interesting video.
I found the following the most entertaining:
36:15-40:15 Trying to visit his office in Panama​

6000+ companies have one office.
No wonder there are no chairs, desks, file cabinets, etc, etc, in the office. If everyone shows up at once, it's standing room only.

Bastian is also keeping up with the countries involved:

Bastian Obermayer ‏@b_obermayer [2016.04.09 3:17 am PDT]
The fallout from Panama Papers revelations so far, country by country http://gu.com/p/4t66f/stw

Russia, Azerbaijan, Iceland, UK, China, Zimbabwe, Iran, Australia, Panama, Pakistan, Argentina, Syria

I'm sure the list will get much longer.

I also heard that yesterday, El Salvador raided the local offices of Mossack Fonseca. I guess they were too impatient to wait for more leaks.

hmmmm...... I wonder what Eddie has to say about this?

Edward Snowden ‏@Snowden [2016.04.09 6:05 am PDT]
The scandal is what's legal. #closetaxloopholes

Now that, is the most correct, and succinct answer, I do believe, I will ever read.
 

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