‘Panama Papers’ to expose global capitalist shell game

Suddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, has come into possession of a 2.6 terabytes of leaked data from the servers of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that specializes in providing dummy companies to move and conceal the money of the world’s elite.

Over the last year, SZ has cooperated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and investigative teams from notable news organizations across the globe to vet the materials. The results of their combined efforts have just begun to see the light of day and already have proven to be a thorn in the side of some of the most rich and powerful people on earth.

Among the notables implicated thus far are Sergey Roldugin, an associate of Vladimir Putin, who has been identified 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.”

The ICIJ reports that about 100 Putin associate-connected transactions are documented in the leaked files, featuring all the hallmarks of shady business dealings: backdated documents, questionable financial penalties, loans sold between shell companies for as little as $1.

Other heads of state named in the documents include the current prime minister of Iceland, former prime ministers of Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, and Ukraine, the King of Saudi Arabia and the current presidents of Argentina and Ukraine. Officials in several other countries are implicated through family ties, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron through his father.

All of those who have responded to allegations of misconduct connected to Mossack Fonseca have denied any wrongdoing, as has the firm itself.

Craig Murray, former British Ambassador and human rights activist, has levied allegations of conspiracy against the ICIJ. Citing its funding from foundations such as the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Ford Foundation, he doubts that the media outlets who steward these documents are cherry picking what to publish in accordance with Western interests.

Murray wrote on his blog, “The corporate media… have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents that are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters.”

In response to a question about the lack of Western figures named, Stefan Plochinger of SZ tweeted “… relax. What’s in the files will be published without fear or favor.”

Regardless of potential vested interests, the people of the world will learn about how the global elite curries favor and moves money over the next 14 days as the ICIJ continues to release their analyses. Only 149 of 11 million documents have been released in their raw form.

The extent of the fallout from the Panama Papers cannot be predicted, but it is already a topic of conversation going into the Russian elections. Given Hillary Clinton’s support for the trade agreement that made the hiding of money in Panama easier and Trump’s history of copping to gaming the system in his corporate ventures, it’s safe to say that the reverberation of the Panama Papers all may be felt in the U.S. elections too.


Patrick J. Foote
Patrick J. Foote

Patrick Foote writes occasionally for People's World. At the University of Central Florida, he worked with the Student Labor Action Project organizing around the intersection of student and worker issues. He would go on to work in the labor movement in such organizations as Central Florida Jobs with Justice, AFSCME Council 79, and OUR Walmart.