By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Looks like Vlad got caught big time with his mitts in the cookie jar. In the largest financial data leak in history, we are getting to see just how corrupt Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of cronies are. It’s revealing to say the least. It’s a dirty dozen of world leaders who are using offshore tax havens to hidey hole their wealth. But as in all things secret, the light of day is shining into the buried coffers of power brokers. Good times.
And Putin is far from alone… a cadre of celebrities, sports stars, British politicians and the uber wealthy of the planet are all mired in this scandal. Welcome to the Panama Papers. This is a collection of 11 million files or so that contain data to kill for. It makes Edward Snowden look like a rank amateur by comparison. But this wasn’t a hack… it was a mass collection of documents and data.
The leak is originating from one of the world’s most secretive entities… the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca. In the dirt dug up, the firm is exposed for helping clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxation. Among their clientele are megastars Jackie Chan and Lionel Messi who have invested their millions offshore. Chan is a big fan of communist China. The whole story is like a movie come to life… it’s also revealed that 26 million pounds that was stolen during the Brink’s Mat robbery in 1983 was possibly funneled into an offshore company set up by this firm.
It’s a who’s who of communists, dictators and thugs on their clientele list. Among the patrons, you will find Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and Chinese President Xi Jinping. All have tax havens through their families and associates… all are handled by Mossack Fonseca.
The only Brits on the notorious list so far are Lord Ashcroft, Baroness Pamela Sharples and former Tory MP Michale Mates. They are in fine company with several dictators rounding out the dirty dozen.
The files were first obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. Then they were passed around to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The source and who leaked them remains unknown.
The confidential documents reveal a number of interesting tidbits – from the Daily Mail:
- A network of secret offshore deals and loans worth £1.4 billion that leads to Russian President Vladimir Putin;
- Twelve national leaders, including the King of Saudi Arabia, president of Ukraine and the prime minister of Iceland, are among 143 politicians revealed to have offshore accounts, including several dictators;
- Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to British political parties are among those said to have benefited from tax havens;
- A member of FIFA’s ethics committee, which is supposed to be reforming the organization, worked as a lawyer for people charged with bribery and corruption.
Putin’s name does not directly appear in these records. But his friends and associates do and they have earned millions of pounds from deals that had to have been sanctioned by him.
Already, the butt covering and excuses are flowing. Claims of legitimacy are being espoused all over the place. Give us all a break and don’t insult our intelligence. The stench of corruption is floating across the planet over this one.
The leaders listed in the leak are as follows:
1. President of Argentina Mauricio Macri
2. King of Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud
3. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko
4. Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson
5. UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
6. Former prime minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili
7. Ex-prime minister of Iraq Ayad Allawi
8. Former prime minister of Jordan Ali Abu al-Ragheb
9. Former prime minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani
10. Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
11. Former president of Sudan Ahmad Ali al-Mirghani
12. Convicted former Ukraine prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko
Although Mossack Fonseca is Panamanian, it’s a worldwide operation and its reach is far and wide with offices in 35 countries. It’s very reminiscent of the Milton, Chadwick & Waters law firm in The Devil’s Advocate. The leaks also reveal a billion-dollar money laundering ring that was supposedly run by a Russian bank and involved close associates of Vladimir Putin. Color me unsurprised. Mossack Fonseca said in a statement: ‘Our firm has never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing. Of course they haven’t… they are protected and shielded from such mundane things as the law that applies to the masses. For soulless dictators, the wealthy, powerful and famous, protection is extended. Everyone, else… forgedaboutit!
Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, said the documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca for the past 40 years. He said: “I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents.”
The dirty money has left quite a trail from Vladimir Putin’s best friend and the head of his crony bank all the way back to the Russian tyrant. A network of secret offshore deals and humongous loans worth £1.4 billion leads right back to Putin. His best friend Sergei Roldugin and Yuri Kovalchuk, who also head’s up Putin’s ‘crony bank’, are both directly linked to the movement of funds offshore. Kovalchuk is Putin’s personal banker. Bank Rossiya, which Roldugin owns 3.2 per cent of, sent instructions to Swiss lawyers who in turn got in touch with Mossack Fonseca. The Panamanian law firm then set up the offshore company Sandalwood Continental Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore entities linked to Roldugin.
These same funds found their way back to Russia via Ozon… a firm that was lent $11.3 million by Sandalwood in 2010/11. They are the owner of Igora Ski Resort just outside St. Petersburg. This is where Putin’s daughter Katya got married.
Roldugin, who is a professional musician, is said to have made a fortune by being put in control of a series of assets worth at least $100 million.
Putin is reported to have been briefed that the you-know-what was about to hit the fan on this. An expose of Putin’s alleged secret fortune is forthcoming. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov, one of the president’s closest aides, dismissed the allegations as false and politically motivated even before they were published. Of course he did. Nothing to see here folks. Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. Move along now. He said a number of foreign secret services were behind the claims, which suggest that Putin has amassed a secret personal fortune of more than $40 billion. I’m sure he has… he’s raped Russia of every dime he could while he’s ruled with an iron fist.
Lest you think the US was not involved in this and won’t continue to be, think again.
From Denise Simon:
What banks aided in the accounts of the global elites to hide their wealth? Did our own governmental financial gurus know about this? Well yes. Encryption was also used. Ahem….
Ah yeah sure —>> WSJ: The U.S. Justice Department said Monday it is reviewing documents published by international media outlets to see if the papers constitute evidence of corruption that could be prosecuted in the U.S. Also Monday, French prosecutors opened an investigation into whether French nationals or financial institutions have used Panama to evade taxes.
IndiaExpress: Two global companies were under mounting pressure, and threats were flying. For years, the Swiss banking giant UBS and a Panama law firm named Mossack Fonseca embraced each other in a mutually profitable relationship. UBS had customers who wanted offshore shell companies to keep their finances hidden. And Mossack Fonseca, one of the largest creators of offshore companies in the world, was happy to sell them.
This is an investigation that began a year ago.
- The families of some of China’s top communist brass — including the nation’s president — used offshore tax havens to conceal their fortunes. At least eight current or former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling Communist Party’s most powerful body, have been implicated.
- A member of FIFA’s ethics committee, Juan Pedro Damiani, had business ties with three men indicted in a corruption scandal. Argentine football great Lionel Messi and his father are named as owners of a Panama company that had not previously been disclosed during a Spanish probe into their tax affairs. UEFA chief Michel Platini used Mossack Fonseca to administer an offshore company, though he denied wrongdoing in a statement to AFP.
- A Panamanian shell company may have helped hide millions of dollars from the Brink’s-Mat heist, a $40 million British gold bullion robbery at London-Heathrow Airport in November 1983 that is etched in criminal folklore, according to the ICIJ. The Panamanian law firm denies the allegation.
- Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson secretly owned millions of dollars of bank bonds during a financial crisis when the country’s banking system collapsed. The irritated premier denied wrongdoing in a television interview, which he cut short, but he faces calls to resign and a no-confidence vote in parliament this week.
- Three of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four children — Maryam, who has been tipped to be his political successor; Hasan and Hussain — were named as owners of London real estate through offshore entities. But Sharif’s son Hussain told Pakistani television: “There is nothing wrong with it and I have never concealed them, nor do I need to do that.”
The Panama Papers name around 214,000 offshore entities and covers almost 40 years of dealings. At least 33 people and companies listed in the documents were blacklisted by the US government for wrongdoing, including dealings with North Korea and Iran, as well as Lebanon’s Islamist group Hezbollah. More than 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches have worked with Mossack Fonseca since the 1970’s to help clients manage offshore companies. UBS set up more than 1,100 and HSBC and its affiliates created more than 2,300. Mossack Fonseca is already subject to investigations in Germany and Brazil, where it is part of a huge money laundering probe that has threatened to topple the current government.
The documents provided to Suddeutsche Zeitung, amounting to about 2.6 terabytes of data, included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records detailing how powerful figures used banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets. The data dated from 1977 through the end of 2015.
Welcome to “WikiLeaks of the mega-rich.” And in the beginning of the Panama Papers, there was Vladimir Putin.