back to article 'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

The staggering, Wikileaks-beating “Panama Papers” data exfiltration has been attributed to the breach of an email server last year. The leak of documents from Panama-based, internationally-franchised firm Mossack Fonseca appears to confirm what has long been suspected but rarely proven: well-heeled politicians, businesses, …

Page:

  1. mr. deadlift
    Mushroom

    yeah yeah

    Though this operation may have been legal in some countries obviously, makes you wonder who the real criminal are, oh wait - we already do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: yeah yeah

      1. The data has USA politicos filtered

      2. The data dump suspiciously coincides with Russian election campaign and contains data that points to circumstantial evidence that one of Putin's childhood's friends maybe (the number of circumstantial conjectures in this one is off the scale) has acted as a proxy for him to stash 2Bn.

      3. The rest are collateral damage to make the data look genuine and unfiltered (point 1).

      This narrows the possible source of the leak to 3 letters. Unfortunately, it is "close but no cigar".

      A. The Russians got a whiff off the leak 2 weeks ago. The "hatchet job on the way" has been all over their media.

      B. Their media (including most of the opposition newspapers by the way) has refused to use it exactly because of A - it looks filtered and prepped by a state actor for their elections.

      I suggest the CIA and the NSA try better next time and chose a couple of USA politicos for sacrificial goats and leave them in the dump instead of filtering them out. The fuhrer wannabie will be a good one to keep in for example.

      1. Spooks

        Re: yeah yeah

        Yeah I agree, Putin is clean as a whistle. I mean, I know LOADS of musical conductors who have $100m sitting in offshore bank accounts. The fact that he's Putin's best mate is completely coincidental.

      2. theModge

        Re: yeah yeah

        I'm of the opinion, as ill informed as everyone else's, that the US data is being held back for later release not to protect someone and that the aim is just to create a bigger story.

        Of course if this doesn't happen, then I'm wrong and I'd be inclined to agree that it looks mighty suspicious. We can but wait and see.

      3. John Hughes

        Re: yeah yeah

        The Russians got a whiff off the leak 2 weeks ago.
        By which you mean the ICIJ called 'em up and asked for comments.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: yeah yeah

        You're forgetting something important: the US invaded Panama in 1989, so I'm sure by the time they captured Noriega they had fully moved their tax-evasion and money-laundering operations to a different caribbean economy.

      5. fishman

        Re: yeah yeah

        I wondered how long it would take the Russian Astroturf Squad to show up - they made it by the second post.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: yeah yeah

          Panama is just one country that host scumbag lawyers, there are many more wretched hives of scum and villany.

          1. oolor
            Coat

            Re: yeah yeah

            Oh, this certainly was a 3-letter hack, of that I am certain. ABC Childcare is the likely culprit.

            I know quite a few lawyers and only one has the slightest clue about security. If you think banks are cheap with it, you have not seen what a large law firm is (in)capable of.

            Further, the lack of US (and Canadian) politicians is more indicative of the fact they are quite poor compared to other countries' politicos. The 3 letters (or 4 in the GWN) would have caught anyone long before they got anywhere.

            Add to that sweetheart deals for those who have been caught lately (KPMG clients comes to mind in Canada)

            While I am certain that the CIA has had all this info all along, the defenses that existed for the data are not exactly NSA level stuff. Also, the information is worth more to the US if less people know.

            Anyhow, more to come. Where did I put my popcorn now?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: yeah yeah

      How unlucky must one be to be on both this list and last year's Ashley Madison?

    3. cduance

      IF the yanks did it

      I would have thought they would have enough sense to add Trump in there...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

    ... it's more probable that the data originated from an unofficial off-site backup held by the NSA.

    From the global coverage so far, tt looks pretty much like it has been pre-filtered, pre-redacted and pre-digested for public consumption.

    I wonder what's in the other stuff that hasn't been compromised ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

      The saddest outcome from all this so far is that Kreml spokesman - with a straight face - claims that all this is just western attempt to create more Putinfobia. NSA has apparently been pretty busy to create all these 11 million pages just to deface Putin and his cronies in a small subset of these papers.

      Or maybe the saddest part is after all that the Russian population either a) doesn't seem to care ("Glorious Leader and his friends are entitled to minor benefits for their great work"), or b) they're drinking the pro-Russian koolaid, or c) they are wary of raising their voice for fear of something.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        The BBC in particular *did* concentrate on the Putin angle, especially in the first reports, despite the Putin link being nowhere near as strong as, say, David Cameron's.

        Later reports seem to be restoring the balance somewhat.

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

          There have been stories and programs about Putin and his circle of friends and advisers before this leak came to light. Guessing they went with the stuff they were already familiar with and could verify quickly.

        2. Asterix the Gaul

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

          Same old BBC,divert attention away from the realities of this affair in whom it affects in this country & gain kudos from the BBC arse-licked politicians that they suck up to at Westminster.

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

            Yes.... any attempt at partisan releasing will rapidly break the cease-fire. So, nothing locally salacious until it's all old news.

        3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

          The BBC in particular *did* concentrate on the Putin angle, especially in the first reports, despite the Putin link being nowhere near as strong as, say, David Cameron's.

          Later reports seem to be restoring the balance somewhat.

          Working from home when the first reports arrived; the BBC were being very vague and only reporting that the leak had occurred. It was notable that there was little substance as to what it might mean, what it had exposed, or who was due to get a good kicking. All quite odd when they were promoting the related Panorama programme.

          There seemed to be 'an abundance of caution' in play early on, as if they were hinting at knowing something but weren't going to say until others had. And that seems to be how it played out.

        4. Just Enough

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

          I can't believe I'm defending Cameron here, but...

          Cameron Junior didn't have much say and control over the business activities of his father.

          Putin, on the other hand, theoretically, could easily be controlling the business deals of his personal pals. Very easily indeed. One of his pals in particular, is little more than a music teacher, yet appears to be operating a multi-million shell company. No wonder the BBC and others reckon that's fishy and more of a story than the dealings of a dead man.

        5. Stuart Castle

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

          Re: despite the Putin link being nowhere near as strong as, say, David Cameron's.

          From what I've seen, the data shows companies owned by both Putin's friends and his wife. I'd say that's a stronger link than someone's father.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

            Russian mindset. Russian papers arent reporting on it (chinese are censoring). Western media isnt trusted in Russia. Those who do believe it wont stick their head above the parapet.

      2. Mattjimf

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        d) Corruption is so rife in the former soviet union that they just expect that they have been stealing millions but can't do anything due to the next person to come in will be just the same regardless of what they say: see Ukriane and Poroshenko.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released... @Mattjimf

          If Putin et al. wasn't mentioned in these papers every single Russian newspaper and TV station would be covering the Poroshenko affairs with great interest. But now that Kremlin has denounced the papers as fiction the media cannot throw accusations at anyone except the evil Western journalists!

      3. TeeCee Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        It's called Vodka and being too wasted to give a shit about anything much is a side-effect.

        This is where Gorbachev came unstuck. He clamped down on the Vodka supply, the population sobered up briefly, noticed him and kicked him out.

      4. fajensen Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        Or maybe the saddest part is after all that the Russian population

        Why should they care? It's expected (both the part about their leaders having "business interests" on the side and the part about Putin being presented as the architect of all evil by the west).

        ... And, things being what they are Here, in the EUSSR, who cares about what "they" say about Putin?

        The good part is, that If "they" want some credibility for the Putin story, "they" will need to grass up at least some of the higher-branch monkeys *here*. We know they exist. Their lobbying is why tax law is the way that it is and the reason we allow off-shore entities being *blatantly* used as vehicles for fraud and abuse.

        It's probably not worth it, though.

      5. tojb
        Holmes

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        "fear of something" you mean "fear of being murdered as has happened before"

    2. Shane McCarrick

      Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

      Pre-filtered/redacted etc- the consortium of journalists don't want their asses sued off them in god only knows how many different jurisdictions- or indeed, more unilateral action being taken against them- a la some actions some of those who were exposed are infamous for........ They have had a year to digest and decide on how to release information, in what format, who to protect, etc etc It is not that they were given this information on a platter a couple of weeks ago and they're simply serving it globally with Suddeutschezeitung acting as a custodian and coordinator for the release- this has been planned for the last 13 months........

      Looks like we're going to have quite an interesting time of things- as they release chunks of data over the next few weeks.........

      Also- while they're making much of the volume of data slurped from the mail server- its highly likely that there is significant repetition (versioning of documents etc)- along with a massive amount of crap that no-one has any interest in reading- so in defense of the journalists- they have saved the rest of us a thankless task sifting through trawl to dig out the nuggets that are actually of interest (both to the public but also to the relevant tax and prosecution authorities globally).......

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

      From the global coverage so far, tt looks pretty much like it has been pre-filtered, pre-redacted and pre-digested for public consumption.

      Obviously it is, with emphasis on exposing interesting people. After all, the investigators are in the business of making news. Nobody wants to hear how some random owner of a mediocre firm somewhere has tried to hide his wealth.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

        >> despite the Putin link being nowhere near as strong as, say, David Cameron's.

        Dog bites man != news, man bites dog = news

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

      Yeh that's what I was thinking. It's clearly filtered.

      It's notably missing senior Americans, no Congressmen, no Senators past or present, no senior US businessmen. Yet US business spends so much effort avoiding US taxes, and USA is much bigger and with more rich people, yet none of those rich Americans avoid taxes via Panama? No way!

      IMHO: I agree, this has been filtered US business names, rich people and political leaders and possibly others. That suggests its US government as the source. A private group wouldn't have reason to filter for a *countries* people, whereas a state actor like the NSA would have the obligation to.

      But that also means we have a much bigger problem. WHO SHOULD BE ON THE LIST AND HAS BEEN REMOVED? Because those people are acting under duress now. They might negotiate treaties in bad faith, impose foreign surveillance on their own countries, sign away democracy with a flick of a pen. TPP signing is coming up, as are a few condemned treaties.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

        US financial laws are incredibly lax, in practically all the states it's possible to set up a company while hiding the beneficial owner. Delaware is a particularly notable culprit. US leaders and businessmen can very easily set up their shell companies at home.

        1. pete 22

          Re: Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

          This makes no difference because you will still be subject to the IRS regardless of which state you form your corporation in.

      2. organiser

        Re: Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

        Panama has an information exchange agreement with exactly one other country: the USA. This is probably why Americans prefer the Caymans and other British jurisdictions.

      3. ntevanza

        Re: Pre-Filtered, so who is under duress

        If you're in the US, you don't need to go to Panama to set up a shell company with obfuscated ownership. You can, and do, do it cheaper in Delaware.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

      Since the reporters are "international" and given the volume of data, I'm sure they'll find some USA types in this. Unless, of course, the USA types used a different law firm. Or NSA go to the info first (which seems unlikely).

      But so far, it does make me wonder... where are the US types hiding the cash?

    6. organiser

      Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

      Very much so, considering that the ICIJ who first published the papers is funded by USAID.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panama canal

    Data so big you could steer a ship through it.

    Puts my $236.13 bank account to shame.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Panama canal

      I'm married with teenage kids, your bank balance puts mine to shame!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Panama canal

        I'm divorced with kids, something tells, me both of yours are in a better state than mine.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Coat

          Re: Panama canal

          Luxury!

          When I were a lad we 'ad piggy bank with thruppence in farthings in it.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Panama canal

            We used to DREAM about having thruppence in farthings! People with piggy banks were considered right toffs when I were a lad!

            1. Def Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Panama canal

              Dreams? Back in my day we had to make do with what we had. We used to envy people with dreams.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Panama canal

                When I was a kid, I was lucky to be a boy. Otherwise, dunno what I'd've played with.

                1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                  Re: Panama canal

                  You had the luxury of playing with yourself? As young boys we had to make do with the priests playing with us.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was wondering when at least one media outlet was going to say where this data came from, though pretty obvious either this or an inside job.

    I wonder why other news outlets have been reluctant to state this, is it a belief it devalues the information?

    Edit: I also noted that this information goes back 40 years, would all this information have been electronic 40 years ago?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you believe someone actually sucked 2.6TB down a pipe you would think this amouint of additional traffic might just get noticed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " this amouint of additional traffic might just get noticed."

        Why? Is the tinfoil black-helicopter perspective your default view on everything, or do you have some concrete reason to believe that?

        There's no suggestion this was accomplished on a specific tuesday lunchtime. Penetrate the server and set up a dribble of data, sit back and wait to see how much you get before they notice. A year later, get bored of waiting for them to notice and ship the lot off to a friendly journalist.Seems plausible to me.

        They're a firm of lawyers serving the wealthy and not-so-wise, they're not going to be combing through a bandwidth bill ticking off the pennies. More likely they'll be whining that the videoconferencing still has a lag whenever they talk to someone on the other side of the atlantic and demanding an upgrade to true real-time.

      2. fwadman

        Bleed the data out over 100 days and it won't show up

    2. Ashton Black

      @AC

      From what I've read, a lot of the docs were scanned and ocr'd. So yeah, it could conceivably go back that far.

      1. SteveK

        Re: @AC

        From what I've read, a lot of the docs were scanned and ocr'd. So yeah, it could conceivably go back that far.

        But if this report of a breach of a mailserver is to be believed, how would all this 40 year old scanned material have been obtained? Seems unlikely that a couple of Tb of scanned files would have been sat in someone's inbox rather than somewhere more suitable.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019