Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Databases Businesses Cloud Earth Media The Almighty Buck Politics News Technology

Panama Papers Source Breaks Silence Over 'Scale Of Injustices' (theguardian.com) 114

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The whistleblower behind the Panama Papers broke their silence on Friday to explain in detail how the injustices of offshore tax havens drove them to the biggest data leak in history. The source, whose identity and gender remain a secret, denied being a spy. The whistleblower said the leak of 11.5m documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had triggered a "new, encouraging global debate," thanks to the publication last month of stories by an international consortium of newspapers, including the Guardian. The source gave Suddeutsche Zeitung leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca's internal database in real time installments. The papers included details of the beneficial owners of offshore companies, passport copies, and emails. The source said they decided to act after understanding the "scale of the injustices" the documents described. Mossack Fonseca denies wrongdoing and says its operations in Panama and elsewhere are "beyond reproach." Intriguingly, the source said they originally offered the documents to "several major media outlets." Editors reviewed the Panama Papers but in the end "chose not to cover them," they alleged. It is unclear which media organizations declined the material. The anonymous whistleblower also approached WikiLeaks -- again without success. "Even WikiLeaks didn't answer its tip line repeatedly," the source complained, adding: "The media has failed." The source used the name "John Doe" when they approached Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Panama Papers Source Breaks Silence Over 'Scale Of Injustices'

Comments Filter:
  • Pirate party (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:14PM (#52064553)

    Let's follow the example of the Icelanders, who jailed their corrupt bankers, and who come next election will vote in the Pirate Party. They promote transparancy and government accountability. You can't be corrupt if everything you do is public. Moreover, the big governments tell us, if we don't have anything to hide, we should give up our privacy but how about we turn that argument right around onto them?

    • when the bankers and the politicians are one and the same (well, closely related; wives, husbands, children, relative of all sorts) do you honestly think they'll slid their own throat?

    • Re:Pirate party (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:51PM (#52064723)

      You can't be corrupt if everything you do is public.

      One of the reasons that few Americans were on the Panama Papers list, was because super PACs and the revolving door patronage system make it easy for American politicians to get rich legally, and our regressive taxes make it easy for them to keep it. Transparency helps, but it is obviously not a panacea.

      • but the public is to busy being lead around like it is some Brave New World to pay attention
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by whoever57 ( 658626 )
        Also, no need to go abroad to hide assets. Delaware provides all the necessary secrecy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Delaware is in the United States and provides ZERO secrecy to Federal Investigations and IRS investigations, and zero against TMC celeb website.

          Look, there are a bunch of you trying to explain away this bizarre lack of American politicians, businessmen, contractors, lobbyists, celebrities, in the Panama Papers, Occams razor, they've been filtered because the leak comes from an agency with a legal duty to filter out the Americans. Who else would take the trouble? Why else would they take the trouble?

          But that

          • How is it bizarre if Fonseca specifically did not market to Americans? They focused on marketing to Europe and Asia. It was the other way around: Fonseca used the US (specifically Nevada, not Delaware) to hide information for their Asian/European clients.

            Considering the US government invaded Panama and made confiscating financial data a BIG priority, I don't see anything surprising about US citizens choosing other venues to hide their money.

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            I think the parent poster was referring to Delaware being the US's version of a corporate tax haven, and since everyone knows it, all the secrecy that's required is -- none.

      • No, Americans aren't on the list because: 1) that law firm specifically avoided marketing to Americans and 2), Americans typically use other countries (or US states with laissez faire incorporation rules) when trying to avoid taxes/maintain anonymity.
    • One remarkable thing about the Obama administration is on the surface it looks like they did next to nothing to prosecute bankers. But underneath if you watch the case flow at DOJ they've prosecuted a whole bunch but did it very quietly.
    • Did they really jail their bankers?
      Months ago I read that they jailed two chief bankers out of three banks. So not all of them. Have the Icelandic courts indicted more bankers lately?

  • by ffkom ( 3519199 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:29PM (#52064619)

    Probably because while they investigated the issue they found out that their boss or company also evaded taxes using some off-shore letterbox companies.

    And while Germany certainly does not have the most whistle-blower friendly legislation, good old "Sozialneid" (envy of social status) usually trumps the traditional negative stance towards whistle blowers ("Der größte Schuft im ganzen Land, das ist und bleibt der Denunziant!").

    So Süddeutsche Zeitung certainly was a reasonable address to turn to.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Note, for the record, that "evaded taxes" has a legal meaning. What is described in the documents in question doesn't fit that legal meaning (hence the new expression "tax avoidance" to describe legal ways to pay less taxes, as opposed to "tax evasion" which is a crime).

      Also note that there isn't actually any evidence that any crimes were committed by anyone mentioned in any of the documents in question.

      Now, whether what is so described fits the definition of "moral" is a lot more debatable. Especially

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @08:13PM (#52064815) Journal

        Also note that there isn't actually any evidence that any crimes were committed by anyone mentioned in any of the documents in question.

        Like hell there isn't. The documents themselves do not mention crimes but they certainly are proof of crime. There is no law against setting up anonymous corporations and sticking your money in there, but you still have to declare that money to internal revenue. Hiding your money by using this construction is tax evasion, not avoidance.

        • by Straif ( 172656 )

          In most countries what was shown in the papers was not illegal. In many cases the corporations, which existed outside of their country of residence, made all the income and the 'investors' were simply paid from that companies accounts. The only income they had to report was what they were paid; no evasion.

          • by hene ( 866198 )
            Sure there are some things that are not illegal, like one woman acting as company director in over 11000 companies. But there are also things that are clearly illegal, like dead person signing documents as director.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        And there hasn't been an investigation identifying those that were actually using shell companies for tax evasion or tax avoidance. So, lump everyone into the category of a tax cheat and risk getting your newspaper sued into non existence. Many countries have stronger libel laws and less protection for free speech and the press than the USA does.

        There are a number of perfectly legal and non tax related reasons for hiding business activity from competitors or parasitic 'investors'. Prove on a case by case b

        • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @03:20AM (#52065945)

          There are a number of perfectly legal and non tax related reasons for hiding business activity from competitors or parasitic 'investors'.

          And there are a number of perfectly legal and non murder related reasons why you might be sneaking behind someone with a knife and a Scream mask.

          Prove on a case by case basis that these people were cheating on taxes before trying them in the court of public opinion.

          Ah yes, the good old "delay until public's attention is diverted" -tactic. The court of public opinion isn't a criminal court. It's a civil one, and operates on preponderance of evidence.

          • ...and operates on preponderance of evidence.

            If only it were that objective and impartial...

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            The court of public opinion isn't a criminal court.

            It isn't a court. Period. It's a lynch mob. And it is often used to manufacture public outrage for purposes not readily evident to the angry crowd with the torches and pitchforks marching toward the accused.

            Useful idiots.

        • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

          There are a number of perfectly legal and non tax related reasons for hiding business activity from competitors or parasitic 'investors'. Prove on a case by case basis that these people were cheating on taxes before trying them in the court of public opinion.

          There's also absolutely nothing preventing a corporation, which happens to be using these methods for perfectly legitimate reasons, from also at the same time using the self same method to avoid taxes. I can think of zero rational reasons to believe that, under such a circumstance, any corporation would not do so.

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            You could be planning a drive-by shooting every time you get in your car.

            • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

              You could be planning a drive-by shooting every time you get in your car.

              Perhaps you have a better idea than I do of how a shooting will leave behind no evidence.

              In other words, your non sequitur is irrelevant.

  • by ebonum ( 830686 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:40PM (#52064685)

    Still seems strange. Who's mission in life is it to help all governments collect more taxes? It would make more sense if it was more targeted. Say someone who saw Nigeria's oil money going oversee into official's secret accounts.
    The simplest explanation is still: A government agency did this so that they could pass laws giving them more control over the global financial system. Have a problem with China? If you know everything in every bank, you can hurt the children of the rulers. That is leverage.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @08:00PM (#52064757)

      The story here isn't that some people haven't paid taxes. We don't know, after all - just because you have money in a foreign bank account doesn't mean you haven't paid your taxes. The real story is how some of these people managed to accumulate such large sums of money on a relatively small official salary.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @10:08PM (#52065213) Homepage

        The story is those people cheating on the taxes are the same people promoting austerity, actually buying politicians, so services are cut back due to lost tax revenue and citizens suffer and die. So tax havens are basically economic terrorists, attacking other countries economies and harming those citizens in collusion with the corrupt politicians of those countries and the 1% psychopath class as well as transfer of funds from the tax evaders accounts to the corrupt politician accounts (so hiding money has been proven, what has yet to be accounted for is how that hidden money was earned). So it is not just people cheating a little on their taxes, it is organised crime upon a massive scale, bribery and corruption, upon a mass scale. The question is should countries being cheated by tax havens and having their democracies attacked and their economies seriously damaged, declare economic war upon tax havens, real serious, active economic war to destroy those tax havens and put them out of business.

        • by tsotha ( 720379 )

          The story is those people cheating on the taxes...

          But we don't know if any of them are actually tax cheats. That's an assumption.

      • people managed to accumulate such large sums of money on a relatively small official salary.

        Putin of Russia falls well into that category. Various people who used to be part of his inner circle have estimated his net worth as high as $200 billion due to all the property he's seized, deals he's made to have company stock and out right stolen from the Russian people via corruption.

        There's a reason the Sochi Olympics planning were so far over budget and it had nothing to do with using marble and go
      • The real story is how some of these people managed to accumulate such large sums of money on a relatively small official salary.

        ...and hence all the attempts (see above) to distract from said issue.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @08:22PM (#52064867)
      I pay about 27% Fed & State alone (single male, no house, decent income). Meanwhile they get subsidies, bail outs and a military that protects their overseas factories and investments.

      Here in the States our infrastructure is crumbling. Flint, Mi just poisoned their entire city to save a buck on their Water bill. There've been several bridge collapses and we've got dams all over the place in danger. Our roads are clogged with cars because there aren't enough roads. It's a mess, and the rich just fly jets & helicopters over it or drive in their limos. Meanwhile I pay for the airports their private jets use.

      So yeah, screw that noise. They're benefiting from civilization they should bloody well chip in. They're not doing that. I say bully for this guy.
      • by Tom ( 822 )

        But aside from some whining online, nothing will happen because we are not starving, and we have TV and Playstations. The rulers have learnt since the French Revolution, you know?

      • by lorinc ( 2470890 )

        Nothing really to do with the subject but:

        Our roads are clogged with cars because there aren't enough roads.

        Not really, roads are clogged because there are too many cars. And there are too many cars because people keep breeding like rabbits. Want more space on the road? Make less children.

    • Who's mission in life is it to help all governments collect more taxes?

      IRS auditors..

      • And the issue with that is the current congress has been hell bent on starving the IRS of operating budget. So fewer auditors, fewer IRS people in general.
    • What a load of FUD. Without citing any evidence, this guy gets modded up to a +5 insightful, GGs slashdot. Clearly OP spent zero time looking at the papers before posting. https://panamapapers.icij.org/... [icij.org] sort by country and find your Nigerian.

      A simpler explanation than the OP's conspiracy: someone that pays their fair share in taxes sees a litany of billionaires and millionaires not paying their fair share and/or pillaging already impoverished nations and has the wherewithal to expose that.

      What would OP d

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @10:06PM (#52065209) Homepage Journal

      Still seems strange. Who's mission in life is it to help all governments collect more taxes?

      Do I really have to spell this out for you? When rich people hide their taxable income, it means everyone else has to pick up the slack.

      No thinking person should be against taxes. If you don't like government, you should be against spending. Taxes are simply the corollary of spending.

    • Who's mission in life is it to help all governments collect more taxes?

      That's not the mission. The mission is to help governments collect from the people who legitimately owe the taxes, instead of having to raise rates on the people who don't, i.e., everybody else (or inflate the currency, which amounts to the same thing).

  • It says here [thewhistleblowers.info] the source of the leak was Ramón Fonseca’s former mistress and employee.
  • Crooked politicians. Tax evasion. A hidden class of above the law plutocrats.

    None of this seems surprising. Even the usual suspects turn up, such as Putin and his inner circle. The official from Iceland was the most interesting thing, mostly because Iceland.

    Did anyone think differently, an "oh shit, the politicians are dirty, people are evading taxes, my reality has been fractured" kind of moment when they read about this?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was denied by multiple outlets because there's no story.

    It's true that off shore tax companies are used for inappropriate business dealings. It's also true that they are used for purely legitimate purposes as well. This leak is just a total document dump; damaging people with legitimate deals as well as people without. If one or two media outlets deny it as useful then I'd call scam. If multiple outlets including Wikileaks deny it as useful, I'd call it less worthwhile than the "leaker" thinks.

    I mean

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"

Working...