More updates on Panama Papers leak. 4/14

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Here are a few articles I found of interest in the last few days on offshore banking as revealed by the Panama Papers leak.

4/7 (from 4/9 print edition) – The Economist – A torrential leak – Not much news to me or to you if you’ve been reading my posts this week. This would be a great introduction if you have just tuned in.

A couple of tidbits. The law firm involved worked with around 14,000 law firms, incorporation companies, and banks, according to an estimate by ICIJ. Somewhere around 500 banks were involved in setting up companies. HSBC reportedly set up around 2,000 shell companies.

4/6 – Politico – Panama Papers pose ethics issues for U.S. prosecutors – Apparently there is a massive roadblock for the DoJ using all the materials in the data dump. Prosecutors are not allowed to even look at material that they think might be covered by attorney-client privilege. That makes it an issue to look at anything that came out of a law firm. Many documents are under attorney-client protection and almost all documents might be so covered.

4/6 – The Australian – Panama Papers: scary revelations for HSBCEventually the focus will shift to the banks providing services to the individuals and businesses appearing in the leaks. This is the first article I’ve seen doing so. It suggests HSBC will be getting lots of negative attention.

4/10 – Reuters – Ukraine PM Yatseniuk resigns – Second head of state to resign because of revelations in Panama Papers leak. Article has no details of his heinous crimes.

Refresher from a few days ago on the odds set by an Irish bookie for the next head of state to resign over revelations from the Panama Papers leak:

  • 8-1 – Argentina President Macri
  • 10-1 – Pakistan President Sharif
  • 12-1 – Ukraine President Poroshenko
  • 20-1 – British PM Cameron
  • 33-1 – China President Xi
  • 33-1 – Russian President Putin
  • 33-1 – French President Hollande

The lynch mobs are out in force. Who’s next?

4/12 – CNBC – Swiss banker whistleblower: CIA behind Panama papers – Here is a very different read on things. The Swiss banker who played a large role in breaking open the bank secrecy in play for decades thinks the CIA is responsible for the Panama Papers leak. The lack of any Americans being on the list combined with most of the damage is against countries the US is in some tension with leads him into this conclusion.

4/13 – Center for Public Integrity – “Panama Papers” law firm raided by Panama’s national police – The raid confiscated large volume of digital data.

My loose paraphrase of the stated purpose of the raid: see if the police can find evidence that suggest someone using the firm may have done something that was possibly illegal. A fishing expedition. Or perhaps merely shows that politicians have to do something, anything, to show they are taking this seriously.

4/14 – Reuters, letting slip their agenda on what should be done, reports Panama seizes Mossack Fonseca files, makes no arrests – The raid lasted 27 hours. Data was gathered from several physical servers, presumably on site, and 100 “virtual servers”.

Article does not explain what a “virtual server” is. I’m guessing that is a cloud-based storage location.

Both the headline writer and reporter believe that without having any actual evidence before the raid, the police should have arrested a bunch of people during the raid. Alternatively, while in the midst of gathering thousands of gigabytes of data, the police should have figured out who did what and arrested them on the spot.

Keep in mind developing the tiny amount of information released thusfar took hundreds of journalists working together over the course of a year. Obviously Reuters thinks the police should have sorted everything out while conducting the raid.

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