By Ray Gano
Last month one of the largest information leaks took place. That leak was called “The Panama Papers.”
This was data that was obtained by a source named “John Doe.”
What he Panama Papers have revealed and documented over 200,000 off shore accounts from many in politics, business and even global leaders.
Basically people and corporations using off shore accounts to protect and in some cases hide their income from their respected countries… ie tax evasion and sanctions.
On May 9, 2016 at 18:00 GMT the website offshoreleaks.icij.org went live.
You are also able to download the entire database yourself from this website.
From The Website About The Database
This ICIJ database contains information on almost 320,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers and the Offshore Leaks investigations. The data covers nearly 40 years up to the end of 2015 and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.
The reason they are called The Panama Papers is that they belonged to a Panama based law firm named Mossack Fonseca.
Mossack Fonseca says it has never been accused or charged with criminal wrongdoing. They also state that they are victims of the hacker “John Doe.”
Last week, “John Doe” issued an 1,800-word statement, citing “income equality” as his motive.
He/she said: “Banks, financial regulators and tax authorities have failed. Decisions have been made that have spared the wealthy while focusing instead on reining in middle- and low-income citizens.”
He/she revealed he had never worked for a spy agency or a government and offered to help law authorities make prosecutions in return for immunity.
Although the name John Doe is used, the gender of the source has not been revealed.
Last week Mossack Fonseca issued a “cease and desist ” order trying to prevent the database being made public but the organization that has the documents, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), chose to move forward with the data and opened the website to the world
The documents has exposed the hidden assets of hundreds of politicians, officials, current and former national leaders, even celebrities and sports stars.
They list more than 200,000 shell companies, foundations and trusts set up in more than 20 tax havens around the world.
Some of those who have been found in the database include
- Prime Minister David Cameron
- Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia
- Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine
- Mauricio Macri of Argentina
- Argentinian football star Lionel Messi
- Hong Kong film legend Jackie Chan
In fact, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigned after the Panama Papers surfaced and that his name was found to have hidden offshore accounts.
Approximately 2.6 terabytes of information / 11.5 million documents – was originally given to the German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, by “John Doe” more than a year ago.
NOTE – Offshore companies are not illegal but their function is often to conceal both the origin and the owners of money. In an economically unstable country having assets outside the volatile arena can help preserve wealth. This is NOT against the law.
The negative is that some people and corporations have used method to shelter and hide assets so that they can avoid taxes, which is against the law.
The ICIJ said: “The database will not include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers. The selected and limited information is being published in the public interest.”
Using The Database
Now, for the common person you can go in and do some digging around. But what you will find are a bunch of shell companies and corporations.
When you click on one of those entities you will be given some information about who are the shareholders and officers.
Well, the negative is that the shareholders and officers are often other shell companies and corporations. One has to do their homework and digging to find who owns what. But it is not impossible to start digging up names.
In my quick searches, I found that a large number of people, corporations and shell companies are Chinese or at least Asian.
When you do a search on Jackie Chan, the famous martial arts movie star you will see that he has a holding company in his own name. This is totally up and up and no nefarious dealings from what you can see.
Seeing that he is from Hong Kong and now Hong Kong is part of the Republic of China, it is wise to have some assets outside that country, which I assume that is why he has chosen to do this.
So go check out the ICIJ website and see if you can dig up your favorite or not so favorite politician, movie star or next door neighbor.