PANDORA PAPERS: BIGGEST DOCUMENT LEAK YET REVEALS SECRETS OF HOW POWERFUL STASH THEIR CASH

On 3 October, various media reported more than 12 million documents, which were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).  It involves leaks from 14 different corporations involving 12 million documents that it has taken 600 journalists a year to sift through.  Some 35 current and former leaders are featured in the latest vast trove of documents.  ICIJ found links between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including more than a dozen serving heads of state and government, country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors and others; with more than two-thirds of the companies set up in the BVI.  The documents are drawn from financial services companies in countries including the BVI, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, UAE, Singapore and Switzerland.  It is said that more than 100 billionaires feature in the leaked data, as well as celebrities, rock stars and business leaders.  Many used shell companies to hold luxury items such as property and yachts, as well as incognito bank accounts.  There is even art ranging from looted Cambodian antiquities to paintings by Picasso and murals by Banksy.  The leaked records also illustrate the central coordinating role London plays in the murky offshore world – with it being home to wealth managers, law firms, company formation agents and accountants, and all exist to serve their ultra-rich clients.  The Guardian points out that some clients of Mossack Fonseca, the now defunct law firm at the heart of the 2016 Panama papers disclosures, simply transferred their companies to rival providers such as another global trust and corporate administrator with a major office in London, whose data is in the new trove of leaked files.  It is notable, perhaps, that after the Panama Papers, the ICIJ carries a lengthy article about another law firm in Panama in the light of the latest leak.

Allegations included –

  • a claim Czech prime minister Andrej Babis used offshore companies to buy a $22 million chateau in the French Riviera with 2 swimming pools and a cinema;
  • Tony and Cherie Blair allegedly avoided paying £312,000 in tax on the purchase of a London property by acquiring an offshore company;
  • how Jordan’s King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a $100 million property empire from Malibu, California to Washington and London;
  • family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are alleged to have been secretly involved in property deals in the UK worth hundreds of millions – with the Crown Estate reported to have launched an internal review over a £67 million London property it appears to have bought from the multimillionaire ruling family;
  • members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, are said to secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars;
  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is alleged, along with several family members, of secretly owning a network of offshore companies;
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky allegedly transferred his stake in a secret offshore company just before he won the 2019 election;
  • disclosures about major donors to the Conservative party in the UK, raising difficult questions for Boris Johnson as his party meets for its annual conference;
  • the president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, may be asked to explain why a law firm he founded was accused of hiding the assets of a controversial Russian billionaire behind fake company owners; 
  • in the US, it is suggested that the state of South Dakota, in particular, is sheltering billions of dollars in wealth linked to individuals previously accused of serious financial crimes; and
  • the former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, apparently channelled several million dollars in consulting fees to a tax-exempt Moroccan company.

Transparency International’s take on the leak –

PANDORA PAPERS LAY BARE BRITAIN’S ROLE AS FACILITATOR OF GLOBAL CORRUPTION

https://www.transparency.org.uk/pandora-papers-latest-news-leak-british-virgin-islands-UK-property

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/about-pandora-papers-investigation

https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/1003/1250499-pandora-papers-published/

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/03/pandora-papers-biggest-ever-leak-of-offshore-data-exposes-financial-secrets-of-rich-and-powerful

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/03/law-firm-founded-by-cypriot-president-accused-of-hiding-assets-of-russian-exile

https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/alcogal-panama-latin-america-politicians/

https://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/2021/10/03/leak-exposes-secret-tax-havens-global-elite.html

BBC: A GUIDE TO 9 YEARS OF LEAKS – PANAMA PAPERS, FINCEN FILES, PARADISE PAPERS, SWISS LEAKS 2015, LUXEMBOURG LEAKS 2014, OFFSHORE LEAKS 2012-13

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-41877932

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THE eIDAS (ELECTRONIC IDENTIFICATION, AUTHENTICATION AND TRUST SERVICES) PRIMER

eIDAS (the electronic identification, authentication and trust services) is the EU legislation that oversees electronic identification (eID), authentication and trust services for electronic transactions in the EU’s internal market.  This law is described as a legal milestone that provides a predictable regulatory environment to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions between businesses, citizens and public authorities.  It creates a European internal market for trust services — such as electronic signatures, electronic seals, time stamps, electronic delivery services and website authentication — by ensuring that they will work across borders and have the same legal status as their traditional paper-based equivalents.  This White Paper from Jumio explores the various types of electronic ID, how they’re issued, and how they help citizens in the EU and beyond conduct business with government agencies.  It answers frequently asked questions and looks at the important role identity verification providers can play in this ecosystem.

https://www.fintechfutures.com/2021/09/white-paper-the-eidas-primer/

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EXPLORING DISTRIBUTED LEDGER TECHNOLOGY FOR ARMS CONTROL AND NON-PROLIFERATION: A PRIMER

On 10 September, this guidance was produced by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), saying that the intrinsic characteristics of distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms, combined with over a decade of successful development and deployment of this technology in a variety of sectors, make it a particularly relevant opportunity for international security and, more specifically, for arms control and non-proliferation.  The paper provides a brief overview of DLT, including its main characteristics, benefits and risks, as well as its potential applications and utility in the context of arms control and non-proliferation.

https://unidir.org/sites/default/files/2021-09/DLT_in_Arms_Control_and_Non-Proliferation.pdf

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ELECTRONIC BILLS OF LADING – FAQ

On 27 September, UK P+I published a list of FAQ for the guidance of its members, starting with the basic position that such a system must ensure performance of the 3 functions of a bill of lading which customarily underpin P+I cover for shipping, namely: as a receipt, as a document of title, and as a contract of carriage which incorporates the Hague or HagueVisby Rules.  It lists the systems so far approved for use, and explains some of the risks and potential liabilities from using unapproved systems.

https://www.ukpandi.com/-/media/files/uk-p-and-i-club/articles/2020-general/electronic-bills-of-lading-clause-2014.pdf

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PANAMA BRACES FOR “PANDORA PAPERS” REVELATIONS

On 3 October, various sources reported that Panama fears the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) “Pandora Papers”, featuring a new expose about financial secrecy in global tax havens, could (after the Panama Papers of 5 years ago) again taint its reputation.  The ICIJ has tweeted that it would release its “most expansive expose of financial secrecy yet,” based on the leak of 11.9 million documents “covering every corner of the globe”.  Meanwhile a leaked letter in Panama is said to reveal some of the effects of the Panama Papers, e.g. that since 2016 the registration of more than 395,000 companies and foundations has been suspended, around half of those existing at that time, and saying that the Panama of 2016 “is nothing like the Panama of today”.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/373712-panama-fears-pandora-papers-leak-could-taint-its-reputation

https://marketresearchtelecast.com/panama-seeks-to-protect-its-reputation-in-the-face-of-a-new-publication-on-tax-havens/170440/

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PANAMA IN WORLD WAR 2 – PART 10: GERMANS IN SOUTH AMERICA AND PANAMA

Previous parts –

Part 9 – the Canal and the expansion of US activity prior to Pearl Harbor and just after

https://raytodd.blog/2021/10/01/panama-in-world-war-2-part-9-the-canal-and-the-expansion-of-us-activity-prior-to-pearl-harbor-and-just-after/

Part 8 – Snapshot summaries of air units, including the Brazilians

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/29/panama-in-world-war-2-part-8-snapshot-summaries-of-aircraft-units-including-the-brazilians/

Part 7 – Air bases

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/27/panama-in-world-war-2-part-7-airfields-and-air-bases/

Part 6 – Introduction of radar and the role(s) of Pan American

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/26/panama-in-world-war-2-part-6-the-introduction-of-radar-and-the-roles-of-pan-american/

Part 5 – Naval defences 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/21/panama-in-world-war-2-part-5/

Part 4 – The Third Locks project, barrage balloons and sea mines 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/19/panama-in-world-war-2-part-4/

Part 3 – The defences 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/15/panama-in-world-war-2-part-3/

Part 2 – Panama in 1939 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/11/panama-in-world-war-2-part-2/

Part 1 – Introduction 

https://raytodd.blog/2021/09/04/panama-in-world-war-2-part-1-introduction/