Tuesday Ten: The Panama Papers

It’s been 10 days since the Panama Papers were released, so it seems a fitting topic for this week’s Tuesday Ten. Here are 10 things you need to know about the Panama Papers:

  1. China’s all over them, but you wouldn’t know that in China. Mossack Fonseca has more offices in China than anywhere else in the world but Chinese censors have been working overtime to keep any news that Chinese nationals, including the brother-in-law of the current president Xi Jinping and numerous relatives of Politburo members, including Mao’s grandson-in-law, have stakes in any offshore corporations out of the Chinese press.
  2. But, somewhat surprisingly, America’s not. The leak is massive and there is still more to be found in it, but so far very few prominent Americans have been identified. Maybe that’s because you can set up a shell company in Wyoming or Delaware and nobody felt the need to go all the way to Panama.
  3. Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign last week after it was revealed his wife owned an offshore company with ties to Icelandic banks that collapsed in 2008.
  4. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been answering–or dodging depending on how you look at it–some tough questions about his and his father’s finances after the Panama Papers revealed Cameron was a beneficiary of his father’s offshore investment fund. Cameron said he divested himself of any interest in the fund before he assumed his role as prime minister and as an added bonus released six years of tax returns (a rather unprecedented move in British politics).
  5. During one of the bloodiest battles in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was setting up a shell company in the British Virgin Islands. Poroshenko campaigned on a platform of cleaning up Ukraine’s political corruption.
  6. The ultra-rich really are different from the rest of us. Even the way they divorce each other is different.
  7. The family that runs Azerbaijan apparently owns most of Azerbaijan as well. How convenient.
  8. It wouldn’t be an international scandal without FIFA. The president of the beleaguered football federation Gianni Infantino has been tied to other FIFA executives who were brought down in the recent corruption probes by the U.S. Justice Department and Swiss authorities. Infantino insists he is innocent and the information is being manipulated. I have no doubt.
  9. Panama is cooperating fully with the investigation…so they say. Panamanian prosecutors just visited the Mossack Fonseca offices today for the first time not to investigate any potentially illegal activity but at the behest of the firm to investigate who might have leaked the files. Creeping justice, perhaps?
  10. All roads lead to Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin was revealed to be the central link in a hub of offshore accounts and loans worth about $2 billion. Russian media has been spinning these reports as libelous but now conspiracy theories are swirling that Putin himself may have been behind the leak of the Panama Papers.

Happy reading, keep your stick on the ice.


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