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At least one of the principals of the law firm owns properties in Boquete.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Here's the English language article from Newsroom Panama this morning:

New money laundering exposure rocks Panama

Posted on April 3, 2016 in Panama

panama_index_draft2-620x264.jpg
 

THE PANAMA law firm whose co-founder, Ramon Fonseca,  was, until recently, a top advisor to President Juan Carlos Varela has  been exposed to another scandal leading from Panama to Russian President Vladimir Putin and multiple  corrupt leaders.

The story was headlined around the world on Sunday, April 3 and follows on Panama’s alleged links to the Brazilian “Car wash” bribery scandal via the Odebrecht construction company funneling bribes to Swiss banks.

It comes at a time when Panama is trying to erase its image as a tax haven and money laundering center, and the revelations have been described as the biggest ever blow to the offshore  world.

The BBC reports: A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth.

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.

Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.(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.

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the ICIJ.
  • BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations in 78 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC doesn’t know the identity of the source
  • Watch Panorama at 19:30 on BBC One on Monday, April4
  •  

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.

It also reveals a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring that was run by a Russian bank and involved close associates of President Putin.

The operation was run by Bank Rossiya, which is subject to US and EU sanctionsfollowing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The documents reveal for the first time how the bank operates.

ments has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth.

Money has been channeled through offshore companies, two of which were officially owned by one of the Russian president’s closest friends.

Concert cellist Sergei Roldugin has known Vladimir Putin since they were teenagers and is godfather to the president’s daughter Maria.

On paper, Mr Roldugin has personally made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from suspicious deals.

But documents from Mr Roldugin’s companies state that: “The company is a corporate screen established principally to protect the identity and confidentiality of the ultimate beneficial owner of the company.”

Mossack Fonseca data also shows how Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson had an undeclared interest in his country’s bailed-out banks.

Mr Gunnlaugsson has been accused of hiding millions of dollars of investments in his country’s banks behind a secretive offshore company.

Leaked documents show that Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought offshore company Wintris in 2007.

He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife for $1 (70p), eight months later.

Mr Gunnlaugsson is now facing calls for his resignation. He says he has not broken any rules, and his wife did not benefit financially from his decisions.

The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mr Gunnlaugsson’s wife Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir in 2015.

In addition, Mossack Fonseca supplied a front man who pretended to own $1.8m, so the real owner could get the cash from the bank without revealing his identity.

Mossack Fonseca says it has always complied with international protocols to ensure the companies they incorporate are not used for tax evasion, money-laundering, terrorist finance or other illicit purposes.

The company says it conducts thorough due diligence and regrets any misuse of its services.

“For 40 years Mossack Fonseca has operated beyond reproach in our home country and in other jurisdictions where we have operations. Our firm has never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing.

“If we detect suspicious activity or misconduct, we are quick to report it to the authorities. Similarly, when authorities approach us with evidence of possible misconduct, we always cooperate fully with them.”

Mossack Fonseca says offshore companies are available worldwide and are used for a variety of legitimate purposes.

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Mr. Mossack is credited for his legal genius in this bio. His father was in the German SS before coming to Panama to spy on Cuba for the CIA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%BCrgen_Mossack

Mr. Fonseca was recently removed as advisor to the President and head of the Panamañista political party. He is also an award-winning novelist

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram%C3%B3n_Fonseca_Mora

Edited by Keith Woolford

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Couldn't help but notice that BN is running a bad English translation of a report in Spanish of this story that was originally published in English.

Consequently, billion$ are inaccurately stated as million$, etc.

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Greed.  Extreme apetite for money and wealth, is what is leading those people to sell, spoil and denigrate the name of Panama and Panamanians around the world.  

 

Now can you see why it is becoming so hard to open a corporation in Panama and why it is so hard for us, panamanians, to open a bank account.  But the most funny thing is that those who has not only the political power but the economical power can do almost anything here without restriction.  Why? Because they are powerful and have money.  The rules apply to all normal people but not for them.   Money changes everything.   Money buys conscience and moral.  

 

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2 hours ago, Roger B said:

Greed.  Extreme apetite for money and wealth, is what is leading those people to sell, spoil and denigrate the name of Panama and Panamanians around the world.  

 

Now can you see why it is becoming so hard to open a corporation in Panama and why it is so hard for us, panamanians, to open a bank account.  But the most funny thing is that those who has not only the political power but the economical power can do almost anything here without restriction.  Why? Because they are powerful and have money.  The rules apply to all normal people but not for them.   Money changes everything.   Money buys conscience and moral.  

 

Them that's got the gold makes the rules.

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This is one of the BBC stories published today after investigation of the leaked documents. http://www.bbc.com/news/35956324

Panama Papers: How a British man, 90, covered for a U.S. millionaire

By Richard Bilton BBC Panorama

Marianna Olszewski

Ms Olszewski is a money expert and life coach

The Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca says it does everything possible to ensure the offshore companies it sets up are not used for illicit purposes. But documents seen by the BBC show that isn't always true. One of the clearest examples of how the company breaks the rules involves a 90-year-old British man and an American millionaire.

Eight years ago, business guru Marianna Olszewski had a problem.

The author of Live it, Love it, Earn it (A Woman's Guide to Financial Freedom) offers financial advice directed at American women. Some of her personal fortune had been invested using a secret offshore company.

But in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, she decided she wanted to get her $1.8m back.

The problem was that the bank that held the funds wouldn't release the cash without knowing who was behind the offshore company - and Ms Olszewski was desperate to keep her identity secret.

'Sensitive manner'

Mossack Fonseca was willing to help. It offered to provide somebody who would pretend to be the real - or beneficial - owner of the cash.

An email from a Mossack executive to Ms Olszewski in January 2009 explained how she could deceive the bank: "We may use a natural person who will act as the beneficial owner… and therefore his name will be disclosed to the bank. Since this is a very sensitive matter, fees are quite high."

Panama

Panama: Home to law firm Mossack Fonseca

She replied: "I do think we should go ahead with the natural person however I want to have your promise that you… will handle this in the most sensitive manner."

The "natural person" Mossack Fonseca offered turned out to be a 90-year-old British citizen.

Mossack Fonseca told Ms Olszewski that the service would be expensive because it was so sensitive. Fees were normally $30,000 (about £20,000 at the time) for the first year and $15,000 for every subsequent year. But she was offered a discount - just $10,000 for year one and $7,500 for every year after.

One reason for the high cost is likely to have been the degree of deception. Another email from Mossack details what would be involved:

"We need to hire the Natural Person Nominee, pay him, make him sign lots of documents to cover us, make him sign resignations, make him get some proofs evidencing that he has the economic capacity to place such amount of moneys, letters of reference, proof of domicile, etc, etc."

It's a blatant breach of anti-money laundering rules, but Ms Olszewski signed up anyway.

Andrew Mitchell QC, one of the UK's leading experts on money laundering, has no doubt the bank would have been deceived.

"Anybody looking at all these documents will believe that it is entirely legitimately owned by this person," he said.

"Mossack Fonseca are prepared to go to that length in order to assist their client. Basically creating a real, live human being to look to the world as if they own the assets, when in fact and in truth, they know, as their client knows, that that person is a sham."

The revelation that offshore companies are providing services of this nature could undermine the UK government's plan to create greater transparency.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has pinned his hopes for reform on a new register that will force British companies to reveal their beneficial owners.

But the register won't work properly if companies like Mossack Fonseca pay people to pretend to be the beneficial owner.

Marianna Olszewski failed to respond when Panorama attempted to contact her about this story by phone, email and letter.

In a statement Mossack Fonseca said: "Your allegations that we provide structures supposedly designed to hide the identity of the real owners, are completely unsupported and false.

"We do not provide beneficiary services to deceive banks. It is difficult, not to say impossible, not to provide banks with the identity of final beneficiaries and the origin of funds."

 

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And another article by the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/world/panama-papers-explainer.html

I am NOT trying to beat this to death, but my gut tells me that we small folk are going to suffer through more paperwork and government intrusion into our lives. I am not even a client of Mossack Fonseca, but fear that this "Panama Papers" episode is going to negatively impact many people.

I am still looking for what the illegal acts might have been. So far all I see is emotional reaction. And what is happening to the hackers that broke into the law firm in the first place?

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I do really think, with a cool head and seeing things ahead  I do believe that the documents hacked or stolen from the law firm Mossack Fonseca has a hidden agenda.  Expert says "stolen" because there are files covering more than 30 years and the amount of information is to big for being hacked remotely.   

Anyways some people are commenting without knowledge of what is "off shore companies", how it works, where in the world you can incorporate them, where are the biggest tax heavens or fiscal paradise in the world, etc.  I will post some cartoons that are being published lately in Panama regarding this case.

 

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This new scandal has risen some questions and people are asking why this is having an direct impact in Panama and why this is making people think of Panama as a country that support illegal actions.   It is interesting to see in the social media and from other countries of the world bash Panama's name without any minimum knowledge of what they are talking about.

I have found this interesting articles posted in AL JAZEERA website.  Very interesting and informative articles that will give some people basic understanding of the terms and subjects this new scandal is talking about

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/04/panama-papers-perfectly-legal-160404113825480.html

 

It is interesting to note that the most biggest tax havens places in the world belongs or are part of the British Commonwealth.  

http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalcampaigns/taxjusticecampaign/taxhavenlist.aspx

 

What is different in Panama.  The difference is in our legislation there is a concept of territorialism.   If you have a corporation in Panama that do business and receive income from transactions in the territory of Panama you have to pay income taxes at the rate state that starts at 25% and up.   If you have a corporation registered in Panama that do business in both Panama and foreign countries you will only pay income taxes for the income you received from Panama and not from the income received from foreign countries.

This issue will have exposition for at least a couple of weeks.  I think that the position of France against Panama is an Hyprocresy but let see how it develops.

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I think it's hypocrisy for the US to paint Panama black, when it is the most corrupt country in the world. And probably the biggest money launderer.

Besides, the "leaks" should be called the " Mossack Fonseca Papers," not the "Panama Papers."

The big-money drug lords and money launderers (such as the US) will always get away with it, while the "leaks" of such stuff affects only the innocent. Like Bud said.

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13 hours ago, Bud said:

And what is happening to the hackers that broke into the law firm in the first place?

I read that it was a whistle blower, a company employee who didn't like what the company was doing, not hackers.

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2 hours ago, Dottie Atwater said:

I think it's hypocrisy for the US to paint Panama black, when it is the most corrupt country in the world. And probably the biggest money launderer.

Besides, the "leaks" should be called the " Mossack Fonseca Papers," not the "Panama Papers."

The big-money drug lords and money launderers (such as the US) will always get away with it, while the "leaks" of such stuff affects only the innocent. Like Bud said.

The leak story was first printed by a German newspaper.  Where did you get the idea this came from the U.S.?

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US-Panama FTA linked to tax evasion

THE PANAMA PAPERS affair is being cited in the USA as a warning sign over Free Trade deals between the two countries, with Hillary Clinton a torch bearer and Bernie Sanders predicting tax evasion problems.

On Tuesday, President Obama claimed that activity like that exposed by the Panama Papers was the result of “poorly designed” laws, some analysts state that relevant regulations were not exactly “poorly designed,” but skillfully designed to facilitate certain interests says Washington based Institute for Public Accuracy. ...etc.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/us-panama-free-trade-linked-tax-evasion?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+newsroompanama+%28Newsroom+Panama%29

I didn't say the "leak story" came from the US. And, yes, the story was first printed by a German newspaper...but who knows where the "leaks" actually came from? Some think the CIA did the hacking. 

Back to my coconut oil...

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The interesting thing of all the stuff that is being printed in newspaper and online is that looks like everyday people are starting to see that Panama, as a country, has very little action in this scandal.  That the law firm used other countries considered tax havens that are located in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and also USA.  Also people is starting to know that no Panamanian bank were used for the customers or clients of Mossack Fonseca Law firm.  All the banks used are located in Europe mainly. 

This article in spanish.  I couldnt find the same in english.  Makes interesting questions about this case and why Panama is being used as an scape goat of rich nations when the current situation states that the corruption is in front of their own noses and they turn away their eyes.

 

http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/04/160405_economia_panama_papers_paises_con_mas_secreto_financiero_ms

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Here's the google translation of the article Roger mentioned: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.com%2Fmundo%2Fnoticias%2F2016%2F04%2F160405_economia_panama_papers_paises_con_mas_secreto_financiero_ms&edit-text=&act=url

The heading is: 

The amazing list of 10 countries with more financial secrecy (and Panama is not among them)

I agree with Roger that Panama has been made the scape goat in this issue, first of all by calling the leaks "The Panama Papers." Intentional?

The only thing Panama has to do with it is that the  Mossack Fonseca Law firm has offices here. They have offices in a lot of other countries, too.

 

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See what President Obama talks abouts this issue and US corporations and rich individuals.

 

 

 

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People.  This theme is hot in the financial market worldwide.  It has developed that most of the rich people, corporations and politicians of the rich countries are the biggest users of the services of off shore companies and tax havens around the world to avoid taxes or tax evasion.  

An interesting article that talks that the USA is the biggest tax haven in the world for US Rich people and corporations.

 

This article was written in a SPAIN newspaper and it says: Forget Switzerland:  United States is the favorite tax haven of great fortunes.   It is in spanish but you could find ways to translate it and read it.

http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2016/02/01/actualidad/1454342583_965613.html

 

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On 4/7/2016 at 10:28 PM, Roger B said:

This new scandal has risen some questions and people are asking why this is having an direct impact in Panama and why this is making people think of Panama as a country that support illegal actions.   It is interesting to see in the social media and from other countries of the world bash Panama's name without any minimum knowledge of what they are talking about.

 

How has the Papers affair affected Panama?

By Luis Fajardo BBC Mundo, Panama City

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35993552

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