"Unprecedented Leak" Exposes The Criminal Financial Dealings Of Some Of The World's Wealthiest People

Tyler Durden's picture

An unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents, called the "Panama Papers", has revealed the hidden financial dealings of some of the world's wealthiest people, as well as 12 current and former world leaders and 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.

More than 200,000 companies, foundations and trusts are contained in the leak of information which came from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama called Mossack Fonseca, whose files include the offshore holdings of drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders – and wrongdoing galore.

The law firm is one of the world's top creators of shell companies, which can be legally used to hide the ownership of assets. The data includes emails, contracts, bank records, property deeds, passport copies and other sensitive information dating from 1977 to as recently as December 2015.  

It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.

Here is the brief summary of how these documents have been revealed, via the Sueddeutsche Zeitung:

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell firms enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.


In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.


The data provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows. It proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous: from politicians, Fifa officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.

A quick snapshot of the scale of the leak in context:

* * *

Mossack Fonseca’s fingers are in Africa’s diamond trade, the international art market and other businesses that thrive on secrecy. The firm has serviced enough Middle East royalty to fill a palace. It’s helped two kings, Mohammed VI of Morocco and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, take to the sea on luxury yachts.

In Iceland, the leaked files show how Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife secretly owned an offshore firm that held millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during that country’s financial crisis. In the video clip below, PM Gunnlaugsson walks out of an interview with Swedish television company SVT. Gunnlaugsson is asked about a company called Wintris, which he says has been fully declared to the Icelandic tax authority. Gunnlaugsson says he is not prepared to answer such questions and decides to discontinue the interview, saying: ‘What are you trying to make up here? This is totally inappropriate


The ICIJ records show Sergey Roldugin, a long-time friend of Vladimir Putin, as a behind-the-scenes player in a clandestine network operated by Putin associates that has shuffled at least $2 billion through banks and offshore companies, German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media partners has found. In the documents, Roldugin is listed as the owner of offshore companies that have obtained payments from other companies worth tens of millions of dollars.

The files include a convicted money launderer who claimed he’d arranged a $50,000 illegal campaign contribution used to pay the Watergate burglars, 29 billionaires featured in Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s 500 richest people and movie star Jackie Chan, who has at least six companies managed through the law firm. The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist to the bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer.

In the “Operation Car Wash” case in Brazil, prosecutors allege that Mossack Fonseca employees destroyed and hid documents to mask the law firm’s involvement in money laundering. A police document says that, in one instance, an employee of the firm’s Brazil branch sent an email instructing co-workers to hide records involving a client who may have been the target of a police investigation: “Do not leave anything. I will save them in my car or at my house.”

In Nevada, the leaked files show, Mossack Fonseca employees worked in late 2014 to obscure the links between the law firm’s Las Vegas branch and its headquarters in Panama in anticipation of a U.S. court order requiring it to turn over information on 123 companies incorporated by the law firm. Argentine prosecutors had linked those Nevada-based companies to a corruption scandal involving an associate of former presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Today, Mossack Fonseca is considered one of the world’s five biggest wholesalers of offshore secrecy. It has more than more than 500 employees and collaborators in more than 40 offices around the world, including three in Switzerland and eight in China, and in 2013 had billings of more than $42 million.

An interactive summary of some of the most prominent individuals named:

The leak also provides details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.

The cache of 11.5 million records shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars. These are among the findings of a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations.

The files expose offshore companies controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan.

They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

"These findings show how deeply ingrained harmful practices and criminality are in the offshore world," said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of “The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens.” Zucman, who was briefed on the media partners’ investigation, said the release of the leaked documents should prompt governments to seek “concrete sanctions” against jurisdictions and institutions that peddle offshore secrecy.

The documents make it clear that major banks are big drivers behind the creation of hard-to-trace companies in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other offshore havens. The files list nearly 15,600 paper companies that banks set up for clients who want keep their finances under wraps, including thousands created by international giants UBS and HSBC.

An ICIJ analysis of the leaked files found that more than 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches have worked with Mossack Fonseca since the 1970s to help clients manage offshore companies. UBS set up more than 1,100 offshore companies through Mossack Fonseca. HSBC and its affiliates created more than 2,300.

Some of the key findings summarized via AFR:

* * *

In the largest media collaboration ever undertaken, journalists working in more than 25 languages dug into Mossack Fonseca’s inner workings and traced the secret dealings of the law firm’s customers around the world. They shared information and hunted down leads generated by the leaked files using corporate filings, property records, financial disclosures, court documents and interviews with money laundering experts and law-enforcement officials.

Reporters at Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained millions of records from a confidential source and shared them with ICIJ and other media partners. The news outlets involved in the collaboration did not pay for the documents.

Before Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the leak, German tax authorities bought a smaller set of Mossack Fonseca documents from a whistleblower, a move that triggered the raids in Germany in early 2015. This smaller set of files has since been offered to tax authorities in the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The larger set of files obtained by the news organizations offers more than a snapshot of one law firm’s business methods or a catalog of its more unsavory customers. It allows a far-reaching view into an industry that has worked to keep its practices hidden — and offers clues as to why efforts to reform the system have faltered.

* * *

The year-long investigation was coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who worked with hundreds of journalists from the world's top media organisations including the ABC's Four Corners program.

What the documents reveal is the inner workings of a global industry of law firms and big banks who sell financial secrecy to those who can afford it.

The ICIJ findings include evidence that:

  • Offshore companies linked to the family of China's top leader, Xi
    Jinping, as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has
    positioned himself as a reformer in a country shaken by corruption
  • 29 billionaires featured in Forbes Magazine's list of the world's 500 richest people
  • Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife secretly owned an offshore firm that held millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during the country's financial crisis
  • Associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies
  • New details of offshore dealings by the late father of British Prime
    Minister David Cameron, a leader in the push for tax-haven reform
  • Offshore companies controlled by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the King of Saudi Arabia and the children of the President of Azerbaijan
  • 33 people and companies blacklisted by the US Government because of evidence that they have done business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organisations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea
  • Customers including Ponzi schemers, drug kingpins, tax evaders and at least one jailed sex offender
  • Movie star Jackie Chan, who had at least six companies managed through the law firm

The leaked data allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.

Most of the services the offshore industry provides are legal if used by the law-abiding. But the documents show the extraordinary lengths individuals will go to in order to hide the true owners of companies.

Mossack Fonseca offers extra services to provide "front people" known as nominees to act as shareholders, directors or even the owners of your company. This can make it extremely difficult for authorities trying to investigate money laundering or follow the money through complex networks of offshore accounts.

Firm worked with more than 14,000 'middlemen' on clients' behalf

An ICIJ analysis of the leaked files found that more than 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches had worked with Mossack Fonseca since the early 1970s to help clients manage offshore companies.

In all, the files indicate Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, company incorporators and other middlemen to set up companies, foundations and trusts for customers.

The documents reveal that these offshore players often failed to follow legal requirements to ensure their clients were not involved in criminal enterprises, tax dodging or political corruption.

Mossack Fonseca says the middlemen are its true clients, not the eventual customers who use offshore companies. The firm says these middlemen provide additional layers of oversight for reviewing new customers. As for its own procedures, Mossack Fonseca says they often exceed "the existing rules and standards to which we and others are bound".

Mossack Fonseca offers backdating of documents

The leaked files also show the firm regularly offered to backdate documents to help its clients gain advantage in their financial affairs. It was so common that an email exchange from 2007 showed firm employees talking about establishing a price structure — clients would pay $8.75 for each month farther back in time that a corporate document would be backdated.

In a written response to questions from ICIJ and its media partners, the firm said it "does not foster or promote illegal acts".

"Your allegations that we provide shareholders with structures supposedly designed to hide the identity of the real owners are completely unsupported and false," the firm said.

The firm added that the backdating of documents "is a well-founded and accepted practice" that is "common in our industry and its aim is not to cover up or hide unlawful acts".

The firm said it could not answer questions about specific customers because of its obligation to maintain client confidentiality.

* * *

There is much more in the full set of releases covered in the ICIJ's website, however we wonder what if any action will be taken against any of these criminals who also happen to be some of the world's wealthiest people and most powerful politicians: after all, it is they who make the rules.

* * *

Finally, for those curious why not a single prominent US name features in the list above, the reason may be found within the snapshot of the non-profit ICIJ's "funding supporters":

Recent ICIJ funders include: Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Fritt Ord Foundation, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Ford Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts and Waterloo Foundation.

And then, at the bottom of the Panama Papers disclosure site we again find Open Society which, as everyone knows, is another name for George Soros.


Finally, let's recall that as Bloomberg reported earlier this year, the world's biggest and "favorite" new tax haven as of this moment, is... the United States itself.

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blabam's picture

Putin caught in 2 billion dollar fraud. lol.  

Miles Ahead's picture

Fuck off.  It doesn't say that.  Nice try.

"Associates of...".  Yeah.  They were associates of mine as well. 
Putin saved Crimea.  And East Ukraine.  And S. Ossieta.  And for the icing on the cake...


Fuck off.  We win.

Never One Roach's picture

Low Retta's going to be busy ... once she finishes with the complicated legal case against those vicious climate change deniers.

J S Bach's picture

Wouldn't you love to see DNA test results of every one of these corrupt offshore internationalists?  I wonder what the most common genetic thread is?

localsavage's picture

Don't worry...they own the MSM.  This too will be swept under the rug.

NidStyles's picture

Bach: I bet they all fall within the J1 haplogroup, or have major portions of the J1 haplogroup in their admixture.

Which I find offensive as an R1 carrier myself. Not sure why such a J1 group should be ruling over us like they own us.  

Tick Tock is right.

greenskeeper carl's picture

Don't go getting your hopes up thinking that corrupt people are finally going to be punished. That's not what this is about. It's about convincing you that due to corruption and offshore tax haven, we need even greater govt control of all things involving money and banking. Preferably American control, since, coincidentally, no Americans were named.

NidStyles's picture

Silly goy. I don't give a fuck about punishment.

No one is convincing me of anything either, because I've made it very clear where my loyalties lie, and it's not with some Chink fucking zipper head, Anglo idiots, or a bunch of Jewified Arabs.


bonderøven-farm ass's picture

Anyone able to get a download of those leaks...?

Didn't take long for the PTB to shut off access.... 

CPL's picture

That's why you send these things everywhere and everyone.  If one thing exists everywhere, it's beggar thy neighbour.  They all barely tolerate each other and couldn't agree on anything unless someone cut a check for them with hookers and blow.  Right now it's the PTB keeping it open. 


It has to remain public because if one person flings mud, they all start a mud fight at the same time, then everyone brings out the story to fight in the media battle ground.  If it's public domain, it means they can all write each other poison pen letters openly instead and coach themselves in advance to take the immediate position of denial.  Let all practice in the mirror before hand:

'I'm...m...SHOCKED and OUrrrrraged at these horrible and hurtful accusations of impropriety with a harem of thai lady boys, three pounds of cocaine and a one pounder of viagra for a defense contract surfaced!'

'We have selfies and video.'


'Right fucked...the inflatable sheep and gimp mask was a bit much.'

'The mood was right...'


McMolotov's picture

Watch them take this and somehow warp it into yet another reason to ban cash. Digital, traceable, centrally-controlled currency is the wet dream of every control-freak statist on the planet. Eventually they'll find the right angle, and people will beg to be enslaved.

Bobbyrib's picture

I'm leaning more towards a reason to shut down the internet when it suits TPTB and to begin to put greater restrictions on the Press.

samjam7's picture

No American Politician involved? I mean come on this is Panama, the western Hemisphere! Only Icelandinc politicinas involved in western Europe and some low key Greek and Maltese as well as the father of Cameron?!

Phew I think we're all safe then...for a moment I thought our politcians too could be corrupted and do offshore network dealings.

Here's the details: https://panamapapers.icij.org/the_power_players

i_call_you_my_base's picture

Definitely seems suspicious. It's probably all legitimate, but that's a little too convenient. People from every continent except north america.

Miles Ahead's picture

Word.  I'm not wasting my time reading that tripe.  I can give you 10 big time American Criminals without going beyond the letter "C"...

Omni Consumer Product's picture

There doesn't seem to be anyone on the list named:

* Clinton

* Bush

* Soros

* Adelson

* Kuhn

* Warburg

* Rockefeller

* Morgan

* Rothschild

In fact there doesn't seem to be anyone on the list who would claim genetic heritage from a certain group that accounts for 0.2% of the world' population.  There also doesn't seem to be anyone from North America.

Therefore, this "bad guy list" is either (a) intentionally incomplete, or (b) the work of useful idiots.


Fractal Parasite's picture

Since the project was sponsored by Soros and the U.S. government, they won't insinuate any wrong-doing by themselves.

Moustache Rides's picture

I don't see Dick Jones' name either.

Bobbyrib's picture

Robocop already took care of Dick Jones.

Professor Fate's picture

Why would Clinton, Soros, Adelson, Kuhn et al need the Panamanians.  They have Blankfein and Company.

Fate the Magnificent
"Push the Button, Max" 

GoldenGoosed's picture

At the bottom the article says and shows soros' open society supports

Freddie's picture

USAID at the bottom of the page.  Isn't the close Bush and Romney friends The mormon Hinckleys (who tried to kill reagan) involved with USAID (aka See Eye Aye front) with their World Vision foundation and hinckley Foundation which is a Mormon See Eye Aye front.

The same people who are now trying to steal it for Canadian Ted Cruz?

Oh and guess who else is involved in the Hinckley/Mormon/CIA/Romney?Buhses World Vision front?


The Clintons.

tonyw's picture

Clealry they are exceptionally law abiding and only in it for the benefit of society at large.

tonyw's picture

Clealry they are exceptionally law abiding and only in it for the benefit of society at large.

DeadFred's picture

It said they were one of the top 5. Which of the other four leaked the files? Their the one tied to the Deep State

JustTheTTIP's picture

ICIJ is partly George Soros funded.

This "leak" could be the Elite eating into their own sector / cleaning house / sacrificing.

onewayticket2's picture

FBI has 129 agents on HRC and they have to be overlapping into the CGI. The timing of this release is interesting...

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

This isn't housecleaning. It's a Warning.

A Warning to the next Tier of Expendable to toe the line.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

This isn't housecleaning. It's a Warning.

A Warning to the next Tier of Expendable to toe the line.

LukeWorm's picture

Who needs Panama when there's Delaware and Nevada just around the corner?

J Jason Djfmam's picture

Not to mention the Cayman Special or the Dutch Sandwich.

Mine Is Bigger's picture

To me, the most interest part of this is that David Cameron seems to be the only one in the first world leaders to be implicated. Soros apparently is very unhappy with the U.K. PM. I wonder why. :-)

Old Doctor's picture

Perhaps Soros senses that great Britian is going to bail on EU membership. The NWO will try everything including a nuclear bomb in London to keep them from leaving. Once GB leaves there will be a run for the exits. And poor Greece will be sitting outside on the sidewalk like a beggar, but laughing all the same.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Calm down, this is a campaign funded by Wall St. So not surprising that thy go after Iceland. Soros, Bloomberg, Rockefeller and others are the indirect sponsors of ICIJ, you can find that on their own web pages.

Slomotrainwreck's picture

I can hardly wait for the book to come out.

MrBoompi's picture

They'll just form another organization and improve the secrecy of their confidential information.

macholatte's picture

These are among the findings of a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations.


UH OH!   Real journalists doing their job.

The MSM is not going to like this.



And then, at the bottom of the Panama Papers disclosure site we again find Open Society which, as everyone knows, is another name for George Soros.

and also sponsored by ABC.

Appears this "leak" is the product of the MSM in drag.


HowdyDoody's picture

Articles about in the UK BBC and Guardian lead into Putin, nothing about Cameron.

This is a clear smear by association hit job.

ICIJ funded by Soros? German journalists (all owned by the CIA)?


Escrava Isaura's picture



Different Kind of War

If these information’s—allegations—are true, no one should  wonder the power behind of being the financial power of the world —US dollar. If you own it, it’s easy for you to track.

Now, let’s assume these allegations are true, that means head of states will fall. Or a higher possibility of so. Keep in mind that, these allegation include China’s powerhouse, it’s presidents, that makes the old coup d’états in South America small potatoes. Also, we can assume that these allegations can, most likely will start uprisings.

So, what comes next?

Will these be swept under the rug? By closed doors meetings.

Will, or can they retaliate by exposing US and Japaneses dealings?

Anyway, its’ obvious that power are at each other’s throat and I don’t need to elaborate why, because the world cannot  produce or generate infinite quantities of goods. What’s not obvious, or predictable, at least to me, is that, they are cornering themselves with an unattainable goal—purpose. And they won’t be able to evade the consequences. 


"Deception, machination and mendacity lie at the core of human intelligence, like worms coiled at the core of a apple” Mark Rowlands 


Seek_Truth's picture

Greed- the love of money- is the power behind the evils of this world.

Or do you actually imagine that if the US Dollar were deposed as the world's reserve currency- that there wouldn't be another one (SDR, etc) to take its place?

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." - 1 Timothy 6:10

Escrava Isaura's picture



Loaded question. But let’s take one issue at time, then finish with an excerpt by Chris Hedges.

Money is not evil, people are.

SDR as a currency? Ain’t gonna happen. If it does, won’t last very long.

Dollars remaining as THE global currency? Probably. But not as influential as it used to be. And less influential with time.


The Revenge of the Lower Classes

College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor.

There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.

As [George] Orwell suggested. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.


Dave Whiteman's picture

No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance


The fascist salute WAS used in American schools until 1942.

Called the Bellamy salute, after Francis Bellamy- author of The Pledge of Allegiance.  See here:   http://tinyurl.com/gn8cj5a

Dave Whiteman's picture

The love of OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY is the root of all evil.

John_Coltrane's picture

Nearly everyone on ZH knows the main money laundering organization is the FED!  So, audit the FED is the approach we need to implement to find out which criminal banks or other entities are getting the largest free "loans".  Could it be, say DB or UBS?  No, that isn't possible they are foreign banks!  Could the FED be buying ETFs, maybe through offshore proxies to illegally manipulate the market using "funny money" they can print at will.  No, that couldn't be true and could be counterfeiting!  They wouldn't do that any more than they would monitorize the debt, would they?  Can we take their word for it?  No, I think we need a real FED audit of the minutes of their open market committee among others.  And the real balance sheet asset list.

Wake me up when we have a real FED audit.  We can thank Ron and Rand Paul as neither seems willing to give up no matter how many demoncrats like Fauxcohautas (Warren) vote against it.  Though libtards are financially illiterate even they know only the FED can finance their welfare schemes at low interest rates.  Is that why they always vote against it?  We need Trump and a 60 vote republican majority in the senate if we ever hope to get close to the truth on dirty money.  Articles like this one are so low information they are completely irrelevent.  They are a financial false flag.  And I noticed many commenters saw right through this Soros supported crap.