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Panama Papers: Data Leak Exposes Massive Official Corruption (theguardian.com) 364

An anonymous reader writes: The hidden wealth of some of the world's most prominent leaders, politicians and celebrities has been revealed by an unprecedented leak of millions of documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. The Guardian, working with global partners, will set out details from the first tranche of what are being called "the Panama Papers". Journalists from more than 80 countries have been reviewing 11.5m files leaked from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm.

Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens. Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Vladimir Putin, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt's former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson. The leak is one of the biggest ever - larger than the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010, and the secret intelligence documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden in 2013.
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Panama Papers: Data Leak Exposes Massive Official Corruption

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  • I may sound cynic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by polar red ( 215081 )

    But I am not surprised. Time to do some 1789?

    • The only surprise is that some people are surprised.

  • Iceland (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:36PM (#51833979) Homepage

    It's Sigmundur Davið - that's an eth, not an o. And yes, people were already furious with the way he's been running our government, now it's boiling over. Hopefully we'll be getting rid of him soon enough....

    • Re:Iceland (Score:4, Insightful)

      by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Sunday April 03, 2016 @04:26PM (#51834231) Homepage Journal
      Yeah.. Unicode issue for stories. It'll be fixed soon-ish
      • Re:Iceland (Score:5, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @05:16PM (#51834463) Homepage

        Like holographic storage soonish?

        Or fusion power soonish?

        • Fusion power, artificial general intelligence and unicode at Slashdot: three things that will always happen always twenty years in the future, no matter when asked.

          (On the plus side it used to be four things, but "Duke Nukem Forever" was finally published so there is some real hope. On the downside, it was really disappointing when it finally came to be, so...)

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        A number of people have recommended caution when proceeding forward with Unicode support - and for a variety of good reasons. That you were quite specific, something I've noticed about you - and appreciate, is that you said "for stories."

        That's probably the best choice as well as expanding a the subset that we're able to use currently. It might even be time to *gasp* slap an editor on there and let people use markdown.

        However, the complaints raised against Unicode are many and the things to be wary of are a

        • What's the 50 number? Comment limit? I believe we already increased that, but let me know if you're still seeing that limit.
          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Yes, it's the comment limit and I just saw it the other day. Within the past week - I even commented as an AC to you not that long ago - a week and a half, maybe?

            Let me see what I can discover... *goes off searching and returns a few minutes later*

            Aright, I'm in the upper 40s right now. I'll post this and then, if it doesn't happen (I can take care of figuring this out in pretty quick order) I'll get back to you by my user account and, if it does, there will be an AC post. I'm sure you can tell the differen

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... before bashing your prime minister, you should give him credit for 2 relevant achievements:

      1) He kept Iceland out of the EU, protecting its national sovereignty. Believe me, the vast majority of the citizens of EU member-nations envy you for this

      2) He respected the will of the Icelandic people - as expressed in two referenda - to let state-owned banks to default on their foreign debts, instead of bowing to the IMF and the foreign investors (by the way, this means that according to today's leak, he proba

      • Re:Iceland (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @08:01PM (#51835159) Homepage

        Oh thank you so much! Because I was so looking forward to being lectured about how AWESOME Framsóknarflokkurinn is from someone who's never lied here! Who gives a rat's arse that they've repeatedly stolen from the nation to enrich themselves, smuggled guns into the country, shot us down the rankings in terms of press freedom by numerous actions against the media, gutted government services to pay for policies to benefit the wealthy, and on and on. No, no, we're supposed to be thankful that they broke their campaign promise where they said that we'd get a vote on EU membership - instead breaking the law by bypassing parliament (who had the actual legal right to withdraw our membership) to withdraw it without giving the nation a vote - even though a popular vote would most likely have rejected EU membership anyway.

        Yes, I'm supposed to be SO BLOODY THRILLED with them. Thank you very much, Person-Who-Does-Not-Live-Here!

        As for your "#2", SIMMI HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. Quite to the contrary, Framsóknarflokkurinn and Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn were organizing the agreement with the British that ultimately got voted down. It was our president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who sent it to referrendum. But don't get too thrilled about King Ólafur, he's a penultimate politician; he was the best friend of the banksters when the economy was doing well, called them role models... but he sure knows how to sail a turning tide. Thankfully, he's going to be gone soon, too.

        And FYI, we DID bow down to the IMF. Seriously, read what the IMF wrote about us. We took on an IMF package and fully implemented it. We're their new poster child. Contrary to popular belief, our government has always paid its debts. What we have not paid is non-government debts - which the EFTA court ruled were not owed. The British and Dutch actions in Icesave were ridiculous; it explicitly spelled out in the Icesave accounts, one link from the front page, that they were backed by a private fund not the government as the primary insurance, and that the secondary insurance was (as is proper under treaty) the British and Dutch governments, respectivevly. Their attempt to try to pass on their loan obligations to Iceland was just shameful (although certainly in line with their long history of exploiting us - hey Brits, ever plan to pay us back for all the cod you stole???).

        Also FYI, Greece had government backed banks. And the issue was over whether or not to reject government owned debt, which nobody at all on any side disputed was government-owned. And they, unlike us, had a severe income problem as well; we had balanced budgets (before our economy fell off a cliff, at least), and a low amount of government debt (again, before we heavily indebted ourselves over the crisis trying to get the banks back on their feet - yes, we did pump large amounts of money into the banking industry, even though we let some go into receivership)

        But no, please please, tell me more about my country and how we're supposed to love our corrupt gun-smuggling perpetually-lying media-crushing government!

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:37PM (#51833985) Journal
    Remember citizens, 'conspiracy theorists' are just nutjob losers who want to blame the reptilians or whatever for the fact that their lives suck and their tinfoil hats are too tight. The world is, in fact, basically decent and as-described. Carry on.
    • by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:48PM (#51834047)

      Conspiracy Theorist are nut job losers. Reporters, truly dedicated professionals and insiders are the ones that make this kind of information available, not people who post on conspiracy forums and rant on tumblr.

      You have to get away from the keyboard if you want to make a difference.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I'm still certain that if every leader and ever rich person in the world was struck down the world would be a better place for about 10 years... until human nature rears it's ugly head and the next wave of scumbags gets power positions and abuses them.

        Humanity at it's core is selfish and loves, utterly loves control over others. Charity and compassion are only for outward appearances only in the bulk of the population. Most will hurt others for their own gain without hesitation if they can do it without

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by peragrin ( 659227 )

          It would take longer than 10 years. Closer to 50. That's the trick with big social change you need to cycle through generations to make it stick. After all we are just coming to terms with the sexual and color rights revolution of the 60's.

          You have to let the generation who lead the revolution die of old age before you can say it was a success. That is why now is a great time to for the USA to get involved with Cuba. Raul and Fidel will be dead within the decade and their Cuba will die with them. Same

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dryeo ( 100693 )

            The thing with democracy is people who have no experience with it need to be eased into it. The countries descended from the English have done not too bad with democracy as they were eased into it over hundreds of years. Some of the other western countries had a rocky road to democracy, France with how many republics, other countries such as Spain with side trips into Fascism.
            This is why most all the Socialist revolutions failed, they were very naive, attempted to go from serfdom to full democracy and in al

            • You show it to them. Also you forgot it took the USA 20+ years to ease into democracy that is only because the leaders of our revolution didn't want the power of leaders, They wanted peace, and to control their own fate. But yes one can't give the gift of freedom, it has to be wanted by at least the majority of the population. You can't do it in one shot.

              Watching China's communist government switch over to democracy over the next century will be interesting. There is too much bureaucracy in china for i

              • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                The American colonies had some democracy before the revolution with most (all?) of the colonies having elected legislatures and appointed executives (Governors etc) who could override the legislature but often listened and took the peoples will into account. One of the motivations for the Revolution was that the peoples rights as Englishmen were being violated, namely the right not to be taxed without representation. The English system being that the King could not raise taxes without agreement from Parliam

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "Reporters, truly dedicated professionals and insiders are the ones that make this kind of information available, not people who post on conspiracy forums and rant on tumblr."

        I doubt reporters are doing the hacking necessary to get these files leaked. So, no, the conspiracy theorist hackers that can PROVE shit (as is constantly being leaked left and fucking right) are the people you want to listen to.

        It's the very people behind the keyboards releasing this stuff. There's no 'real journalist' or 'professiona

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except that "the journalists" aren't doing anything here, except cherry-picking what to publish in a very suspicious way: they have 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm whose clients are mostly from the west, however, they only published 149 documents (out of the 11.5 millions), mostly about Putin, Assad and the Chinese President.

        Note that the organization that received all the documents is the so called "International Consortium of Investigative Journalists", whose biggest donor is George Soros' O

    • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:58PM (#51834087)

      Remember citizens, 'conspiracy theorists' are just nutjob losers who want to blame the reptilians or whatever for the fact that their lives suck and their tinfoil hats are too tight. The world is, in fact, basically decent and as-described. Carry on.

      You might as well hand the conspiracy theorists credit for saying that WWE is fake. It's common knowledge that the super-rich hide assets, especially the politically elite in countries with weak democratic institutions.

      Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens. Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Vladimir Putin, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt's former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson.

      The only remotely surprising one on that list is the Icelandic Prime Minister, there's a smaller bombshell in:

      Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets.

      But again it's not that surprising, even in well developed western democracies there's corruption, the question is how many and who. It isn't even evidence that the rich are corrupt, middle class folks steal and cheat as well, there's no reason to think that getting a boatload of money magically makes people honest.

      • I cannot equate offshore assets automatically with malfeasance in office. Plenty of the world's massive family fortunes have been built on the backs of ventures in ruthless private industry.

        Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets.

        For instance, I don't have any trouble believing some members of the House of Lords come from some good family names who's money was looted thousands of years ago.

    • by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @05:13PM (#51834449)

      Talking about conspiracy theories, I find it interesting that the "Panama Leaks" is making front page news on European news outlets, Aljazeera, and others, but I can't find anything about it on any of the major American news outlets like CNN, Fox or MSNBC.

      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        That is truly jaw-dropping. How do these editors live with themselves? I mean, Fox is relatively understandable, this doesn't fit their main narratives, but CNN and MSNBC?

      • Soros (Score:3, Interesting)

        by labnet ( 457441 )

        Beware,
        This 'event' was 'sponsored' by a Soros funded entity AND there are currently no USA names on the list AND the biggest fingers are pointing at people the USA doesn't like.
        Sounds like a setup.

        • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
          Either our corruption laws are good enough, or we're a lot better at hiding our shit. Or maybe you just openly form a corporation here and blatantly set up your tax haven office with 1 guy in Ireland. Perhaps a combination of all three.
      • but I can't find anything about it on any of the major American news outlets like CNN, Fox or MSNBC.

        Got a sneaking suspicion that US news outlets want to know if Obama administration people or their cohorts have been implicated in the documents before they start publishing.

        The real documents and investigative articles have not yet been published. The time will come.

  • Nobody from the USA? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:38PM (#51833989)

    Looking around, it doesn't look like there are any people listed from the US.

    https://panamapapers.icij.org/the_power_players/

  • Good Friends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:40PM (#51833999)

    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."

    Tomorrow's papers: Sergei Roldugin was found in his Moscow apartment this afternoon, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the back of the head.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      This might not make sense but I'll try to explain my line of thinking and then you may, or may not, agree. However, hear me out for a minute...

      If that happened, it would be a good sign. I know, someone will have died. However, it'd be an indicator that they're scared and worried about the repercussions from an angry populace. It would mean that they want retribution. It would mean that they are worried about other information getting released.

      That nothing has happened, or will happen, is a sure sign that th

  • by sittingnut ( 88521 ) <sittingnut@gmailCOMMA.com minus punct> on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:43PM (#51834019) Homepage

    these papers implicate lots of western politicians directly, esp from uk. to quote "Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties", and david cameron family .

    in contrast, putin's implication is indirect at best, with vague indefinite connections,"The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin - is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married."
    best friend not described as that before? and location of a wedding reception?

    but this summary only mentions non western leaders(if we ignore iceland), as of now. curious!
    who is /. afraid of ?

    • by bug1 ( 96678 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:58PM (#51834093)

      A story about probable corrupt practices and conspiracy to defraud by thousands of powerful organisations going back to 1970.

      And your concerned about the bias in the summary on one of thousands of sites linking to it.... priorities, my friend.

    • We have no fear. This story was submitted by a user, as are most of our stories, and that's what they wrote. Luckily we have great commenters to add color to the story.
    • by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Sunday April 03, 2016 @04:09PM (#51834149) Homepage Journal
      Also the leaders mentioned were mentioned by name in the Guardian article, where as the rest were not
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Maybe Putin is a lot better at this "h money" shit than some random MP (have you seen some of our former MPs? You'll be amazed they can tie their shoes) and so it's a lot harder to pin anything down to him personally?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 )

      in contrast, putin's implication is indirect at best, with vague indefinite connections,"The Russian presidentâ(TM)s best friend â" a cellist called Sergei Roldugin - is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putinâ(TM)s daughter Katerina got married." best friend not described as that before? and location of a wedding reception?

      In contrast to what? Putin is a bigger fish than even Cameron much less some MPs. Sure, it's "indirect", but most of the people associated with the Putin story wouldn't have that kind of money without Putin's help (as noted in the article). For example, his alleged "best friend", Sergei Roldugin apparently has at least 100 million USD. But why would he have anything at all, if it weren't for his relationship with Putin? At this point, the only real question is what is Putin's take from these shenanigans?

      • by Amouth ( 879122 )

        There have been some wild guesses as to Putin's wealth,

        The real question for me is WHY? why do we care what Putin's personal net worth is? We already know who he is, what he does, and what is character is like. Spending energy chasing his various hidden agendas does nothing for the general public.

        Now spending that energy on the revolving door that is western politics. That would be useful to either expose corrupt politicians or make it known for potentials.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:45PM (#51834025)
    FTFA:

    Though there is nothing unlawful about using offshore companies, the files raise fundamental questions about the ethics of such tax havens

    So the leaks don't expose much of anything. This does raise the obvious question of where did that money come from in the first place, but that's old news.

    • by cryptolemur ( 1247988 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @04:09PM (#51834147)
      While it's not illegal to use offshore companies, the moment one "forgets" to mention to his friendly, local tax official about the 500 million pounds/dollars one "earned" last year, and are now hidden behind the facade of these offshore companies (that actually exists only for that sole purpose), it becomes illegal. At least in Europe.

      Well, at leat for now. Our marvelous right-wing cabinet did try to make tax evasion legal, but they received enough of a shit-storm to delay the plan.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:46PM (#51834037)

    Hmmm... Weird. Also, Canadians, British, Germans, etc. Something is not right.

    • by hazeii ( 5702 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:52PM (#51834061) Homepage

      This is a very good point;it's almost less what's there, than what's been left out.

      As i understand the story so far, some southerm german paper gets this leak and enlists a *Washington DC* organisation (ICIJ) to ensure the relevant informatiion is appropriately publicised.

      • This is a very good point;it's almost less what's there, than what's been left out.

        As i understand the story so far, some southerm german paper gets this leak and enlists a *Washington DC* organisation (ICIJ) to ensure the relevant informatiion is appropriately publicised.

        If I'm reading it right, this is the first tranche. The US might get its turn later.

  • Carefully composed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2016 @03:52PM (#51834065)

    so as little dirt as possible falls on the U.S. Corruption in global sports organizations, corruption in global oil business, and now this as well, and very little of it falls on the U.S. Very suspicious.

    I believe all of these have come to light and under investigation on intentions by the U.S, to wash their hands a bit after the NSA fall-out, and to make the whole world look bad and corrupt, while trying to look like shining white knights themselves.

  • The man who once ran Putin's campaign to take over all independent media in Russia was found bludgeoned to death [nytimes.com] in a Washington, D.C. hotel room [cnn.com]. He would have been privy to all kinds of insider information, including money Putin has stolen from the Russian people. Take note of the NY Times article where, before an investigation had even begun, the Russia state media was already lying about what happened to Lesin: he had a heart attack.

    But this wasn't the first Russian who had inside knowledge of Pu
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Russia state media was already lying about what happened to Lesin

      Oh I don't know I can easily believe his heat gave out before Putin's thugs were able to beat him to death. Autopsy can only tell us so much in those kinds of situations.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You didn't choose particularly good example with the death of Mr. Lesin in Washington, D.C. The problem is that first, US was saying this [nytimes.com]:

      In the days after his death on the night of Nov. 4, neither the local police nor federal investigators appeared overly alarmed. One law enforcement official said there were no obvious signs of forced entry or foul play in his hotel room. Mr. Lesin did, however, appear disheveled when he returned to the hotel, according to the video surveillance cameras, the official said.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @04:33PM (#51834267)
    Each has secrets that can destroy the other.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @04:36PM (#51834289)
    so I hardly see this as news. At worst It's moderately annoying for the people involved. Also the leakers are probably going to die soon (poor bastards).

    Remember all those reforms that happened after Snowden's leaks? No? That's because there weren't any. So long as social issues exist to divide the working class into easily manageable groups you're not gonna see squat. Let me know when you figure out how to get people to stop caring about Abortion, Gays and guns long enough to care about economics..
  • If it's American documents released, there would've been 50 comments in the first 5 minutes begging for military trials and how these leaks are damaging to the country, how we need to protect our military and their assets. People were crying out for the DoJ to arrest, prosecute, stow away in Guantanamo and even execute the leakers. Now that it's primarily about other countries, I don't see any of that outcry. I don't see any media, mobs or prosecutors demanding for these leakers to go through anything like what Assange, Swartz or Snowden are going through.

    I hope they find a Hillary/Obama/Sanders threesome somewhere in there.

  • by zedaroca ( 3630525 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @08:57PM (#51835411)

    Some journalists are going to publish only part of it, to damage only those that they have interest in hurting. Wikileaks publishes everything, and that's what we need, so that every citizen can go through it and show what's inside.

    People who have access to it, please, leak it all.

    (I was checking the journalists in ICIJ from my country, they are not from very different media outlets. I can see a lot staying hidden and I imagine it will be the same for other countries)

  • Panama postless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nostromo21 ( 1947840 ) on Sunday April 03, 2016 @09:33PM (#51835511)

    Not so surprisingly, Slashdot is about the only regular site I go to that I've found allowing comments on this leak. Most news sites & others I frequent have them all disabled. Funny that. Journalistic bravery, or self-preservation? :)

    Even less surprisingly, top Russian communist leader corrupt...news at 11.

    In any case, rather than follow the money, just keep en eye out for Mossack Fonseca's execs who are reported suddenly 'missing', or have 'accidents' in the near future. The shitstorm over this hasn't even begun yet. Popcorn time.

  • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @12:27AM (#51836097)
    It would be fun if letters of marque could be used for people who engage in tax doges. Find the cheat and get a large share, not the relatively small share that the IRS alleges they will give you with a ton of strings attached. Another notion is what a cool book or movie it would be for someone to take over a small tax haven and transfer the assets before the law shows up. You could have fun with that plot line. The sequels could involve various extortion angles while the thieves are on the run. It would be one of the times that people root for the pirates.

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