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View Full Version : Tax Haven Shenanigans Leaked...


Kimon
04-03-2016, 01:24 PM
The source is somewhat random - an obscure, and shady law firm (Mossack Fonseca) in Panama.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35918844

Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.
The company says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing.
The documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data, including dictators accused of looting their own countries.
They were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
BBC Panorama and The Guardian are among 107 media organisations in 78 countries that have been analysing the documents. The BBC does not know the identity of the source who provided them.
Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ, said the documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years.
"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," he said.
The data contains secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

No Americans mentioned, though it would surprise no one if some (or many) eventually are. It does mention a few Putin flunkies, and even the Prime Minister of Iceland, however. The Iceland bit seems the most likely of those mentioned to lead to prosecution (the Putin flunkies the least likely, for obvious reasons), but will be interesting to see if anything really comes of this, or if any prominent Americans are implicated.

Davian93
04-03-2016, 02:54 PM
Americans don't need to hide money from taxes...our system makes it completely legal to avoid paying them if you're wealthy enough.

Kimon
04-03-2016, 03:06 PM
Americans don't need to hide money from taxes...our system makes it completely legal to avoid paying them if you're wealthy enough.

Legal, but still hidden...

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/politics/2012/08/investigating-mitt-romney-offshore-accounts

This is why I don't trust a flat tax. They'll still always be looking for places to hide wealth. It happened in ancient Athens, it will always happen.

Kimon
04-04-2016, 04:53 PM
Surprisingly, still no Americans mentioned.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/04/panama-papers-list/82607516/

Quite a few prominent leaders though, of which David Cameron's (former PM, but still) name is arguably the most embarrassing, but also -

-Putin (or at least myriad flunkies)
-Assad
-Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping
-Ukrainian Pres. Petro Poroshenko
-Saudi King Salman al Saud
-Argentine Pres. Mauricio Macri
-Iceland's PM Sigmundur Gunnlaughsson
-Former Iraqi VP Ayad Allawi

It's an eclectic group, but still odd that there wouldn't be any Americans implicated. Perhaps just an indication of the ease of using more normal channels to hide wealth for greedy Americans in the Caymans and elsewhere, and hence no need to employ shady Panamanian shysters...

GonzoTheGreat
04-05-2016, 03:41 AM
I have seen mention of at least one American, though it wasn't one I'd ever heard of before.
And the Cameron that is referred to in these papers isn't David Cameron (the current Prime Minister) but his late father Ian Cameron. Which should be somewhat embarrassing for David anyway, but since he's a Conservative, I think that his main issue here is that it was revealed, not what his father had been up to.

Daekyras
04-05-2016, 06:04 AM
Ireland- Not only will we let your corporations avoid tax but we'll also facilitate wealthy individuals to do the same!

Kimon
04-05-2016, 07:02 AM
I have seen mention of at least one American, though it wasn't one I'd ever heard of before.
And the Cameron that is referred to in these papers isn't David Cameron (the current Prime Minister) but his late father Ian Cameron. Which should be somewhat embarrassing for David anyway, but since he's a Conservative, I think that his main issue here is that it was revealed, not what his father had been up to.

Yes, but that is what is occurring in many of these cases - family, friends, and close associates hiding income to avoid taxation. It all carries that same scent of corruption. The politicians, in contrast to say entries like Messi and Jackie Chan, just seem clever enough to at least hide behind another layer of deniability that it was not their own wealth that was being hidden rather than that of family or of associates.

On a more personally embarrassing note, not sure why I was thinking that he was the former PM - though this may well lead to that...

Kimon
04-05-2016, 11:13 AM
Iceland's PM just resigned.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35966412

Rand al'Fain
04-05-2016, 12:25 PM
Iceland's PM just resigned.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35966412

May just be the tip of the iceberg.

As for why the severe lack of Americans, I think it may have to do with the sheer difference in taxes in the US compared to other countries. Many countries have a tax rate that is considerably higher than in the US.

Kimon
04-05-2016, 03:54 PM
May just be the tip of the iceberg.

As for why the severe lack of Americans, I think it may have to do with the sheer difference in taxes in the US compared to other countries. Many countries have a tax rate that is considerably higher than in the US.

There might be a greater ease of access to loopholes (which might explain the odd absence of Americans, or the it might just be the ease of access to other clandestine routes to hide wealth in similar places, but just through different middlemen), but the actual rates are pretty similar. The big difference is when you look at those 0% rates in places like the Caymans and British Virgin Islands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates

Americans, individuals and companies, still clearly do this as well. Still not quite sure why we aren't getting more names here. It might just be chance, but...

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/panama-papers-why-arent-there-more-american-names

But why weren’t more Americans named?

One possible explanation, which we can dismiss immediately, is the notion that this sort of thing couldn’t happen here. To the contrary, the United States is widely recognized as a leading source of offshore money: during the Union Bank of Switzerland tax-evasion scandal, it emerged that, at that bank alone, U.S. clients had almost twenty thousand Swiss-based accounts. In the hedge-fund industry, it is considered perfectly normal and entirely legitimate to domicile funds in tax havens like Grand Cayman or the British Virgin Islands. In addition, as Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker reported earlier this year, America is also, thanks to its relatively lax disclosure laws, emerging as a major tax haven and destination for offshore funds. Anonymous money is moving in and out of the United States all the time, with American lawyers and financial intermediaries helping to facilitate the flow.

A more convincing explanation is that the journalists who are researching the leaks are still pursuing American clients of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, we now know this to be the case. On Monday, a piece published by Fusion, one of the U.S. media organizations that has access to the leaked material, said, “So far, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has only been able to identify 211 people with U.S. addresses who own companies in the data (not all of whom we’ve been able to investigate yet). We don’t know if those 211 people are necessarily U.S. citizens. And that figure covers only data from recent years available on a Mossack Fonseca internal database—not all 11.5 million files from the leak.”

In an article published on Monday evening, McClatchy, another news organization working with the I.C.I.J., identified more American citizens for whom Mossack Fonseca registered offshore companies. The people named didn’t include any politicians or other well-known figures. “Some appear to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama,” the McClatchy report said. But it also mentioned at least four people who have been charged with serious financial crimes: Robert Miracle of Bellevue, Washington, who was convicted of running a sixty-five-million-dollar Ponzi scheme; Benjamin Wey, the president of the New York Global Group, who was indicted last year on charges of securities fraud (his lawyer denied the charges in an email to the Times); Igor Olenicoff, a Florida real-estate mogul, who was convicted of tax evasion in 2007; and John Michael “Red” Crim, a financial adviser from Pennsylvania, who was convicted in 2008 of plotting to help people evade taxes.

So much for individuals. What about U.S. banks, financial advisers, law firms, and other intermediaries? Data compiled by the I.C.I.J. consortium indicates that, of the roughly fourteen thousand intermediaries—banks, law firms, company-incorporation firms, and other middlemen—with which Mossack Fonseca worked over the years in order to set up companies, foundations, and trusts for its customers, six hundred and seventeen were based in the United States. That’s a lot.

On the other hand, other countries appear to have provided Mossack Fonseca, which has thirty-six offices on three continents, with much more business than America did. In the past, the firm had at least one office in the United States—in Las Vegas—but it doesn’t currently have any. According to charts published by the I.C.I.J., the United States isn’t among the ten countries for which Mossack Fonseca created shell companies. (Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom held the first three places). And no American banks appear among the list of the ten financial intermediaries that most often requested offshore companies for their clients.

Likely there are at least a few more names, just not any exciting ones.

GonzoTheGreat
04-06-2016, 03:14 AM
Maybe Americans just simply preferred a different tax evasion helper company. After all, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Mossack Fonsseca is the only such organisation in the whole world.

Daekyras
04-06-2016, 04:40 AM
Irish Politicians have been doing this for years

And have been caught several times.

Charlie Haughey- Where did the money go? His response was that he bouth shirts with it. 4 for every member of his family. It meant that each of the shirts cost £2000.

Bertie Ahern- Where did the money go? His response was he gave it as a loan to a friend Which friend? Paddy. Paddy Who? I dont know his second name, I just called him Paddy the Plasterer.

Both of these men were in office as the Taoiseach (Prime minister) at the time.

Then there was the "ansbacher" account scandal where billions were been hidden in off shore accounts. Not a single resignation.

Woo- Ireland, a country with the nicest populace in the world and a ridiculously corrupt government.

Davian93
04-06-2016, 07:43 AM
I will agree that the Irish were, on a whole, by far the friendliest foreign population I've ever interacted with. They seemingly genuinely do not hate Americans...which is pretty rare these days. Most foreign groups will allow that you are "pretty decent...for an American" if you act normal overseas. The Irish were a bit above that.

Rand al'Fain
04-06-2016, 07:27 PM
I will agree that the Irish were, on a whole, by far the friendliest foreign population I've ever interacted with. They seemingly genuinely do not hate Americans...which is pretty rare these days. Most foreign groups will allow that you are "pretty decent...for an American" if you act normal overseas. The Irish were a bit above that.

Always wanted to go to Ireland. Great-grandfather went there to visit distant relatives back in the 1980s. Me? I just think it would be cool to visit. Wouldn't know any distant relatives over there.

Ancestor that came over from there, left Ireland in the 1860s, if I remember right. Had to do with him being a young member of the Fenian Brotherhood. Never actually did anything, but he got out of there before he could be arrested.

And the famous author/poet James Joyce? Yeah, my great-grandpa's last name was Joyce too. Quite a large group of Joyces in the US. At least the ones I'm aware of.

Sorry about the tangent.

GonzoTheGreat
04-07-2016, 03:23 AM
I'm not sure the Irish can be considered a tangent when talking about any kind of shenanigans at all. Can one have proper shenanigans without Irish involvement?