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, …

  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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re:

          Good points, the reason I added the edit is that I am aware of the earlier systems I just find it unusual that a company whose role is the secrecy of it's clients would take the time to migrate all this data to new systems or even keep the records in the first place, it's not like they were going to be subject to audit (though I may be wrong on this), I mean originally they traded in bearer shares so why make a record for something without a record?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @AC

          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?

          There was a time when Exchange was being promoted as an office automation and workflow server. So it is feasible that hard copy documents were scanned either on mass or as required for particular customers and loaded into the imaging and workflow server...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC

          @previous AC

          "Seems unlikely that a couple of Tb of scanned files would have been sat in someone's inbox rather than somewhere more suitable."

          I work for a retail sector client which has a legal department who keep in excess of 1TB of shit data in their inboxes. They are all compulsive about keeping a record of EVERYTHING and about not using normal sharing tools.

        4. Pookietoo

          Re: Seems unlikely ... sat in someone's inbox

          Were the slurped files on the mail server, or did they use the compromised mail server to access a separate document management system?

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: @AC

        AB "...a lot of the docs were scanned and ocr'd..."

        Thus explaining all the "Put in my account..." -> "Putin: my account..." OCR errors.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Mail?

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

      Just about; 40 years ago puts us in the mid to late 70s which puts us in the era of standalone word processors and large corporation mail based around mainframes.

      (You'd be surprised at the number of people who think that computers didn't exist before the 1980s.)

      1. Richard Jones 1

        Re: Mail?

        Remember that finance did not embrace e-mail and in some cases may still not have embraced e-mail to the extent of others, rather it relied on such as telex and, other internal protocols essentially based on telegrams. Telegrams have a long and cherished, (by some) history. Both telexes and telegrams were often machine generated. I remember experimenting with generating telexes via a small desk top type computer back in the 1970s.

        The English Electric Leo was running a business back in the 1950s and while many businesses struggled with 'computerisation' in the late 50s and 60s, (footnote many still have those same old problems) a lot of stuff was 'computerised' with even the banks using them by the mid 1960s. The fact that records go back 40 years is a bit of a surprise, since that only goes back to about 1976. So two comments, did they prune out the other 20 odd years through house keeping or was it simply lost through bad retention policies?

        It makes the 6 ~ 10 year retention policies of many banks look really lame. Mind you, life insurance does have more distant retention horizons.

        1. Skoorb

          Re: Mail?

          Further to the old telex systems, a number of large institutions ran their "email" systems over an X.400 and X.500 messaging system. This allows for serious audit of deliverability and message integrity compared to SMTP.

          Last I saw you can even run Exchange in X.400 mode and just slap an SMTP gateway over the front of it to interface with the Internet and an interface to convert email addresses to X.400 addresses.

          Even today lots of large institutions who consider their internal comms “sensitive” still run over an underlying X.400/X.500 system. It is used heavily in military/intelligence/aviation/shipping etc.

          So, they may well have been using "email" (or something similar to it) for many decades now.

      2. Bloakey1
        Unhappy

        Re: Mail?

        <snip>

        "(You'd be surprised at the number of people who think that computers didn't exist before the 1980s.)"

        Or the amount that think the Americans invented it all during world war II.

        Computable numbers, Babbage and Ada I hear you say. Nope twas the US wot did it whilst saving your sorry Limey asses during World war II.

    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.

      It must be if you can hold open a pipe long enough to suck 2.6TERAbyte through it. Decent IT management would have picked up complaints about "slow Internet" long before you hit the GB mark, let alone TB.

      I've done some back of the envelope calcs (I'm pre-coffee, so please check this yourself :) ) - if you sucked data out at 5MB/s, 2,6TB would take you pretty close to a year so this has either travelled through the door on tape or something else happened there that I find hard to explain without some serious lapses in security, process and judgement.

      As I said elsewhere, something doesn't quite add up in this whole story.

      1. Justicesays

        5MB / min would take a year, or 82kB/s.

        Doesn't seem that far fetched?

        1. Archie Woodnuts

          Not to mention that it likely isn't all coming from the same server or data centre. If you're pulling that down from two locations, you've already halved the time it takes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not to mention that it likely isn't all coming from the same server or data centre. If you're pulling that down from two locations, you've already halved the time it takes.

            That is, of course, assuming you can also RECEIVE at that speed. That needs a pro connection, or an online (v)server on a fat pipe and enough storage.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            well that's one use for Bittorrent that the labels can't complain about too loudly?

            hang on, on that thought, does NSA really need the Utah facility, can't it just torrent from a redundant array of innocent PCs instead?

      2. John H Woods

        "I've done some back of the envelope calcs (I'm pre-coffee, so please check this yourself :) ) - if you sucked data out at 5MB/s, 2,6TB would take you pretty close to a year"

        No need for envelope backs, just type 2.6TB / 5MB into Google and get an answer of 520,000. Less than a week (Google can do that for you as well). Also Images of documents compress nicely --- 2.6TB of uncompressed data could easily be <0.5 TB of compressed files - which would fit on a USB stick or memory card in under an hour (and which could be sucked out of a >10Mb/s connection in a few days).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Less than a week

          I confirm, without google's help: 6 days at 5 mbps, and that's a very conservative figure.

          Even downloading at full speed, most lawyers are too clueless about technology to notice -- and a large subset of them are too greedy and arrogant to employ good IT people.

          1. Andy Davies

            With Googles help: 2.6TB/5Mb/60/60/24 = 48.14814814814815 days - that's assuming 5Mb/s dedicated.

            1. IT Poser

              That is the second comment when the author used the G word to do the work. I'm afraid, so very afraid.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @previous AC

        "It must be if you can hold open a pipe long enough to suck 2.6TERAbyte through it. Decent IT management would have picked up complaints about "slow Internet" long before you hit the GB mark, let alone TB."

        Again, this isnt always true. Most IT services teams simply dont notice anything except mahoosive volumes of data being slurped in small timescales. A previous employer had an external company carry out a pentest during which the testers slurped 400gb of data without triggering any reporting tools in five days. It did generate a bit of "why is my internet slow" comments but even the one ticket which got raised was treated as a service quality issue rather than data leakage.

        If the BadPeople here did exfil at 5MB/s for 50 days, it is almost certain nothing will have been noticed. (Which is my approximation for how long it would take to get 2.6TB off the network). 1MB/s would take about 260 days, which is around the time FireEye say it takes enterprises to realise they've been pwnd.

    5. quattroprorocked

      Would not have been but

      Information exposed in an email is ALWAYS older than the email, (think about it). Sometimes much older.

      A 1978 NewCo is set up on paper. This becomes a matter of record on the public register in Panama, (but is basically just micky mouse data), and, for some reason, can't be reached today :-)

      2015 - a Partner sends an email to BigWig saying "great news Sir, NewCo is worth X and it's all yours, latest accounts attached, you'll be amazed how savvy you are at gold dealing".

      Now you have an email leak covering stuff going back 40 years. Because NewCo was EITHER set up to be sold as an established company OR by/for BigWig at that time. Both are dubious.

    6. Lunatik

      Needn't stay on paper/micro

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

      Having worked on many very large backscan conversions for financial clients (jobs with resultant repositories in the 10s of TB), it's very possible that any old paper, fiche or film files would have been converted at some point in the past and form a fair chunk of this 2.6TB.

      Discussion of the intricacies of bulk conversion of archive files is a great hit at parties btw

      1. DwarfPants

        Re: Needn't stay on paper/micro

        "Discussion of the intricacies of bulk conversion of archive files is a great hit at parties btw"

        I bet you have to fight the ladies/gents off with a sick.

        1. e^iπ+1=0

          Re: Needn't stay on paper/micro

          "I bet you have to fight the ladies/gents off with a sick."

          I was going to suggest this was a typo, but the concept works brilliantly.

      2. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: Needn't stay on paper/micro

        "Having worked on many very large backscan conversions for financial clients (jobs with resultant repositories in the 10s of TB), it's very possible that any old paper, fiche or film files would have been converted at some point in the past and form a fair chunk of this 2.6TB."

        Yep, did a much smaller project like that back in 1992, which is 24 years ago. Think legal departments who wanted easy access to contracts stretching back years.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "It's also feasible that not every individual or company named was fully aware of what was going on, since the ICIJ notes that banks were behind establishing most of the offshore entities."

    Pro tip: if you do not understand what your accountant/lawyer/business manager/consultant/etc. wants you to do, don't do it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Agreed. Even my accountant told me this. He said he could advise but ultimately any bad decision or illegal act would be my responsibility.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        "Agreed. Even my accountant told me this. He said he could advise but ultimately any bad decision or illegal act would be my responsibility."

        S/He may "say" that, but ultimately the whole point oh hiring an expert is because we can't possible all be experts at everything. An account who gives advice that directly results in illegal actions or illegal monitory gain is quite likely to be in the dock with you and possibly get the lions share of the blame, whatever their disclaimers might say.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Someone believes these people do the hard work themselves instead of relying on expert intermediaries - which of course take their cut of the money? Private banking is not just comfy offices instead of waiting in a queue.... and you may also need complex money movement schemes to make them "disappear" properly - something banks today are very well capable of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >relying on expert intermediaries

        Totally irrelevant. It is their money, they are responsible. Besides, if you gave millions to "expert intermediaries" you'd still want to know where it was and how to get it. There is no deniablility

        1. LDS Silver badge

          I never meant this shifts liability. I meant many people with too much money may not have the time, skills, and infrastructure to "move" the money themselves (and setup all the companies needed to "clean" them and shield the true owner...) - you need someone offering them, and here comes the whole "private banking" business, a remunerative one.

          Thereby it's no surprise entities like Mossack Fonseca exist, and that banks are involved in this affair.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money-shuttling firm lost 2.6 TB of data and didn't even notice

    "Money-shuttling firm "lost" 2.6 T£ of tax revenue and no-one even noticed"

    TFTFY

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it...

    ...I can't transfer more than 50p without a red flag being raised somewhere in the name of anti-terrorism yet politicians manage to transfer millions?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it...

      Because you're not a politician, duh. You don't even need to go far to see how they keep on scammin'.. (note to lawyers: this is opinion).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: Why is it...

        There's always someone who feels the need to explain. Never heard of a rhetorical question?

        1. frank ly Silver badge

          Re: Why is it...

          I belive that the 'red flag' limit is £10,000 when it comes to 'funny money' investigations.

          I cashed in a long tern ISA style savings policy last year, for £12,000. I'm a UK citizen all my life with a UK bank (for many years) and a well known UK savings organisation. The savings people sent a cheque to my registered home address (they have to do that because of 'security' rules, no bank transfers.) I sent the cheque to my bank and they usually take 3-4 days to have the money in my account. It took two weeks and when I phoned up, the standard operator tranferred me to someone who told me it was being 'cleared in another place'.

          This is where we are now. Ordinary people who have done nothing wrong have inconveniences dumped on them at every turn while rich people, corrupt people and criminals have various mechanisms available to them for making their activities easier.

          As Paul Ab says below, I pay my builder/plumber/mechanic in cash and good luck to them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is it...

            Also strange that a > £10,000 transfer by BACS or Faster Payment (free) is not allowed due to money laundering regulations.

            Although if you pay the £20~£35 Chaps fee then it can be transferred (you're obviously not a money launderer if you're paying a small fee!). Similarly if you have certain privileged accounts (Barclays Premier Current account for instance) you may transfer more (up to £30,000 in the Barclays case) because once again, you are obviously not a money launderer if you have the income and/or savings to have those accounts.

            1. 0laf Silver badge

              Re: Why is it...

              Yup, I cleared my mortgage recently and it took about an hour to go through the CHAPS process to get it done due to the money laundering measures.

              1. Vic

                Re: Why is it...

                Yup, I cleared my mortgage recently and it took about an hour to go through the CHAPS process

                I cleared my mortgage about 3 years ago. My lender[1] told me that they couldn't take money from a card - neither over the phone, nor in person - but that I had to go into a branch with a cheque.

                The cheque method did actually work rather well, but added a couple of miles' walk to my day...

                Vic.

                [1] Barclays, in case it make a difference.

            2. Skoorb

              Re: Why is it...

              Faster payment transaction limits are nowt to do with money laundering, and all to do with the banks wanting to make money out of you by making you pay the CHAPS fee.

              Just change banks.

              The limits per bank are at http://www.fasterpayments.org.uk/about-us/transaction-limits. Note that some allow you to pay up to the scheme limit of £250,000 per transaction with no problems.

            3. Super Fast Jellyfish

              BACS limit

              Bank of England puts the limit at £20M for Direct Debits, or similar payments through BACS.

              Your bank may have a lower limit depending on how exposed to Fraud / Risk they want to be.

          2. paulf Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Why is it...

            @frank ly "I cashed in a long tern ISA..."

            All these rules are intended to hammer the International Criminal Masterminds (tm) but just end up causing extended annoyance to us minions that have the temerity to deprive the super rich of a few thousand we've managed to keep hold of; while the aforementioned ICMs(tm) have a plethora of dodgy methods for avoiding the authorities. In a way it's the same as encryption - the serious Mr Big crims/terrorists aren't relying on iPhone encryption to hid their plans any more than they're popping into a high street bank to transfer £200m of drug money.

            A story like yours. I've been able to make two over payments to my mortgage in the last year. Nothing devastating, a couple of thousand each time in a call to the mortgage provider once I've proved I'm the account holder with the usual questions. Payment is made using a debit card issued by a UK branch of a UK bank with a UK Banking license. The paper trail is as copious as it is comprehensive.

            Despite all that I'm still asked where the money is coming from. "My current account", I reply earnestly. "No, Sir, where is the money coming from?". I simply give the same reply again since it's both true and accurate and the call centre droid usually doesn't push further. If I had walked into a branch with a suitcase of used fifties then I could understand a few questions just to be sure, but all too often these financial outfits are quite happy to be overzealous just to annoy.

          3. Bloakey1
            Happy

            Re: Why is it...

            "I belive that the 'red flag' limit is £10,000 when it comes to 'funny money' investigations."

            <snip>

            I believe it is £5000 although the police say that anything over £1000 is of interest if a person is carrying it.

            I once had a a big argument at a bank when I wanted to take out £5000 to pay builders. They made me fill out a form as to what i intended to spend the money on. I said that I would spend it on prostitutes, rent boys and drugs, the rest of it i would squander. They then told me that I could not put that in the form but I got my way in the end.

            The police do not even bother with these forms as they are innundated with crap already.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is it...

              I once had a a big argument at a bank when I wanted to take out £5000 to pay builders. They made me fill out a form as to what i intended to spend the money on. I said that I would spend it on prostitutes, rent boys and drugs, the rest of it i would squander. They then told me that I could not put that in the form but I got my way in the end.

              You know, I'm going to take up some money in those amounts, just to make sure they will have to get me to fill in those forms too. And I will fill in exactly the same because I actually hope to have that argument -loudly- in the nice, quiet hallowed halls they pull in their high level customers. I give the poor idiot less than 10 seconds before he caves (my voice is trained - let's just say that I expect this to reach well past the doors).

              It'll be even more fun watching his face when I pay it back into the account 10 minutes later :).

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                Re: Why is it...

                It'll be even more fun watching his face when I pay it back into the account 10 minutes later :).

                But do go to the bank next door and convert that to small bills and use those to pay it back. :)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Why is it...

                  But do go to the bank next door and convert that to small bills and use those to pay it back. :)

                  Long ago when I still lived at home, my dad decided I should pay rent. I spent the entire month going from bank to bank, so at the end of the month he had his rent - in the smallest coinage I could find. It's quite impressive what a couple of hundred becomes in coins. :)

                  1. e^iπ+1=0

                    Re: Why is it...

                    "It's quite impressive what a couple of hundred becomes in coins. :)"

                    What it becomes is ... not legal tender.

          4. Asterix the Gaul

            Re: Why is it...

            It would have been easier to have withdrawn the savings in two or three tranches,they would have given two separate cheques for the same amount,which could have been paid into another account's elsewhere on different date's.

            Where there's a will....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is it...

          I'm not the OP but yes I have heard of rhetorical questions.

        3. BurnT'offering

          Re: Never heard of a rhetorical question?

          Yes, I have heard of a rhetorical question. It's a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer. Though classically stated as a proper question, such a rhetorical device may be posed declaratively by implying a question, and therefore may not always require a question mark when written. Though a rhetorical question does not require a direct answer, in many cases it may be intended to start a discussion or at least draw an acknowledgement that the listener understands the intended message.

          A common example is the question "Never heard of a rhetorical question?" This question, when posed, is intended not to ask about the reader's knowledge of rhetorical questions, but rather to insinuate a lack of the reader's knowledge.

          Although occasionally amusing and even humorous, rhetorical questions rarely achieve any comedic effect.

        4. Bloakey1
          Joke

          Re: Why is it...

          "There's always someone who feels the need to explain. Never heard of a rhetorical question?"

          What do you think?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why is it... @Bloakey1

            Good one. I'd've upvoted that except for joke icon.

            1. e^iπ+1=0

              Re: Why is it... @Bloakey1

              "except for joke icon."

              Use the mobile site - no poxy icons.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why is it...

          There's always someone who feels the need to explain. Never heard of a rhetorical question?

          A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.

          :)

    2. kmac499

      Re: Why is it...

      "...I can't transfer more than 50p without a red flag being raised somewhere in the name of anti-terrorism yet politicians manage to transfer millions?"

      Too bloody right; Last year as Executor of my late parents estate I tried to pay out to family members including myself.

      I tried mobile banking (specifically added to the account fot this purpose.)

      Computer says NO; amount too large please try in branch.

      So I went to the Branch to do EFT

      "Sorry no can do" says the bank "£5k a day limit on EFT". But we can do CHAPS for a fee on each payment.

      Is there any way I can pay this money out in one go without an extra fee.?

      Yes said the bank you can write a cheque but it will take up to three days..

      So all the latest technology fails but good ole paper which presumably triggered a BACS transfer is allowable. No passwords or 2 factor auth etc just an illegible scribble..

      If I had any more parents left I think I'd go offshore just for the convenience...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is it...

        OK so you've heard of a rhetorical question

        What about understatement?

        >I can't transfer more than 50p without a red flag

        >I belive that the 'red flag' limit is £10,000

        1. BurnT'offering

          Re: What about understatement?

          Is that a rhetorical question?

          Is the above?

          Is this?

          Is?

          ?

    3. beast666

      Re: Why is it...

      Obviously terrorism could be funded thru off-shore accounts.

      Why haven't GCHQ and the NSA been all over this for years?

      The obvious answer is that they have but are saying nothing. Why and how?

      If this data is a complete surprise to the intelligence community then I would still ask why and how.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is it...

        > Obviously terrorism could be funded thru off-shore accounts.

        > Why haven't GCHQ and the NSA been all over this for years?

        Conventional wisdom says they have been... on the other side. There's a long history of US government agencies engaging in money laundering, gun/drug smuggling, and basically terrorism. Iran-Contra and Fast & Furious are just two examples that spring to mind.

        But it's not "terrorism" when our governments do it. It's just... shit declining empires do.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why is it...

        >Why haven't GCHQ and the NSA been all over this for years?

        Because along with terrorism you also need to fund counter insurgency and freedom fighters.

        Like those muslim chappies in Afghanistan fighting the Russians, and those similar chaps fighter Sadaam and Assad. Not to mention all the devout anti-communist regimes in S America and those loyal gentlemen in Northern Ireland.

        If you get up the bank's nose too much they could "leak" everyone's account.

    4. LDS Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Why is it...

      Because of course you're not in the "VIP whitelist". Do you believe the day they will start the whole big PNR data gathering for flights their travels will be recorded as ours?

      Otherwise it may happen that a travel to Panama (maybe with someone who is not the rightful partner....) could not be denied....

  8. MotionCompensation

    Of course it's legal

    After having lived in both the "developed world" and a corrupt "developing country", I've started to see a pattern. Corruption is crude and illegal in the developing world. In the developed world, it happens on a huge scale too, but it's mostly within the law. I guess that's what developing a country is: fine tuning the law so you can get away with stealing. It's not even stealing anymore, by law.

    Some people will have to step down because of this, sure. But jail time? Nah...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Of course it's legal

      This reminds me of a conversation I had last weekend, before this story hit the news. A relative investigates fraud for a living. They've been doing quite a bit of work with authorities in Nigeria. The customer recently commented that as far as they could see London appeared to be the world centre for fraud, "take the case of former Minister XXX of our then government. He now lives in London and lives like a millionaire. He's never had a proper job, outside politics in Nigeria, where he never earned that fortune. Now we can't touch him and can't get anyone in London to investigate where all the money has come from."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course it's legal

        Had to get some medical equipment into Africa for an NGO. It took probably $100 total in bribes to customs/guards/etc to get it out of the airport. Totally illegal and if we were a US funded NGO we could go to jail for paying bribes.

        Same equipment went to S America and had to go through the USA. We spent $10,000 on visa fees, carnet fees, customs fees, special freight handling fees, brokers fees to pay for paying the other fees.

        Just to have the gear change planes in Miami - all perfectly legal and above board.

  9. Winkypop Silver badge

    It's only illegal

    If the powers that be deem it so.

  10. PaulAb

    Good for the Goose......

    I don't feel so bad for all that cash in hand work I paid my builders

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone noticed ..

    .. that the reporting so far has studiously avoided to mention any Americans involved in this?

    Sorry, but the law of averages (and the law of avarice) dictates that this sort of scam is not limited to specific geographies, and the result of that omission is that it all starts to get a Swiss Banky feeling about it: leaking and disclosing mainly to harm Wall Street competition.

    If you recall, Swiss bank data thefts started around the time it was found out just how fantastically Wall Street had screwed over the world, supported by a total absence of regulator activity and rating agencies doing what the banks told them to keep their business. Very conveniently, the press found at that time another black sheep.

    Given the rather noticeable absence of US entities in all of this, it feels like a state sponsored attack rather than a "good citizen" (I would call 2.6TB somewhat excessive anyway for just a whistleblower - worse, not seeking a reward is IMHO a red flag in itself as nobody is free of motives).

    So, the press will no doubt have a field day with all of it, but I catch a whiff off this I don't like. It makes me wonder just how independent an organisation of independent journalists can be when based in Washington, but I haven't worked out what exactly they are trying to distract you from yet.

    Beware.

    1. Whitter
      Unhappy

      Re: Anyone noticed ..

      Who pays the piper etc. The ICIJ belongs to the Center for Public Integrity:

      https://www.publicintegrity.org/about/our-work/supporters

      I'm going to guess that the leak is likely honest enough. The processing of that leak will likely be politically/economically "regulated". then again, I'm a cynic in such matters, as I already belived this to be true without the papers!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Anyone noticed ..

        There have been two whistle-blowers in France, ready to hand over "documents" containing offshore financial information about French officials, one even claimed he had offshore bank account details of all high-ranking politicos that have ruled in France since the 80's, with very few exceptions.

        Then, the guy retracted his claims, nobody knows why ... some years later, the German government sent a subset of these documents to the French authorities, informing the press of the move, and so France now has to do something with it ... the pruning goes on as I type.

        The French president said that he welcomed whistle-blowers, I wrecked a keyboard yesterday on hearing that ... but it is not really funny.

        I, for one, do not trust the ICIJ - put the data for the last 4 years on pastebin, and I might change my mind ... wikileaks was public, this is nothing like it ... just another list of felons that needs censors approval ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone noticed ..

        Now go one step further be find out who funds them.

        I did it for you. They are funded by USAID.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Anyone noticed ..

      According to some journo (name escapes me) I heard on the radio discussing this, there are two reasons for the lack of american names.

      Firstly there is "more to come" from this, they (the journos) aren't releasing everything they have at once, which means there's another big story in there (as they see it) that is yet to come out. Secondly that it's so easy to hide money in the states, when compared to Europe, there are fewer american names involved. Fewer, but not "none".

      He said the old shell corporation route in the US is laughably easy, compared to elsewhere in the world, hence the lower percentage of Americans in the story as it stands.

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Anyone noticed ..

      .. that the reporting so far has studiously avoided to mention any Americans involved in this?

      Well, the yanks have Delaware for their money-laundering and tax-fraud needs. There is that.

      But it does smell, as you say. The message *could* be that certain officials supporting key American interests such as EU signing up for TTIP and TISA need not be listed - for now - and won't be in the future. Unless these things go the wrong way.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone noticed ..

      "Anyone noticed ..

      .. that the reporting so far has studiously avoided to mention any Americans involved in this"?

      Probably the Yanks that fingered PUTIN,like the UKRAINE, they light the touchpaper & stand back watching the fireworks.

      I can''t wait for JP MORGAN to be 'tapped' for it's data,I'm sure that BLAIR's got some nice booty in there somewhere,most notably donated by the American government.

    5. Sieberana

      Re: Anyone noticed ..

      From the NYT article on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/world/panama-papers-explainer.html

      "One reason there may be relatively few Americans named in the documents is that it is fairly easy to form shell companies in the United States. James Henry, an economist and senior adviser to the Tax Justice Network, told Fusion that Americans “really don’t need to go to Panama.”

      “Basically, we have an onshore haven industry in the U.S. that is as secretive as anywhere,” he said."

      I know nothing about international finance so I have no idea how valid this argument is, but someone else did bring it up on this thread.

      Also, the New York Times is very miffed that they weren't included in the global coalition of journalists which examined the data over the past year.

  12. DougS Silver badge

    This is a lie

    As pointed out, you don't have tons of 40 year old scanned papers coming from an email breach. This is the law firm trying to cover their ass, deciding "we were hacked and we're fixing it" is better for the retention of rich tax dodging customers than "we have a rogue insider but we haven't figured out who it is yet".

    It may also let countries with less press freedom suppress stories about it, if the documents resulted from criminal activity rather than a whistle blower. Watch how quickly the story shifts in some countries to talking about the criminal hackers who exposed it, rather than the rich tax dodgers with their pants down.

    Hopefully this will encourage insiders at law firms and banks that provide similar services to become whistle blowers and shine further light on corrupt officials whatever country they represent. Obviously this is only the tip of the iceberg...unless you believe that one law firm is connected to all such activity in the world.

    1. Paul Smith

      Re: This is a lie

      The breach was 'through' an email server, not 'of' an email server, and if their company was anything like mine, in one, in all. As for worrying about 5M/min and the time taken to move terabytes, I call BS. Any top company is going to have better then 50M/sec and if you do much international video conferencing, as I expect they do, then 500M/sec is not unreasonable.

      If I were the hacker, I would look at creating an AWS storage and backup account in the targets name and run regular backups to it. No reason for the companies IT department to be suspicious and 3TB would cost less then $2000.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is a lie

      Hopefully this will encourage insiders at law firms and banks that provide similar services to become whistle blowers and shine further light on corrupt officials whatever country they represent. Obviously this is only the tip of the iceberg...unless you believe that one law firm is connected to all such activity in the world.

      I'll probably be catching the mother of all downvotes for this, but I disagree with the manner in which this has happened. If someone decides to blow the whistle it should be done with some restraint so that legitimate users (of which there are many) are not dragged into this as well, because then it is not whistleblowing, it is jealous betrayal.

      This is in general the issue I have with whistleblowing in the style of Wikipedia and now this: throwing everything you can grab on the street is no longer whistleblowing, that is attempted damage. When you want highlight things that are wrong you identify specifics with evidence and then let the authorities do the rest (usually after being pressured by the press).

      What you're advertising is vigilante justice: as soon as you THINK an organisation is doing something wrong you're going to violate their secrecy, and so harm all the other customers in the process. Where do you draw the line then?

      Am I OK with this disclosure? Only if it was done with the specifics to identify issues. The volume suggests no such filtering, which suggests it was done to cause harm and I for one would then like to know motive. I'm cynical enough to refuse to believe that this was done for betterment of the world: someone is profiting off this. Competing economic areas, politicians, presidential candidates - there is a motive behind this and the fact that it remains hidden suggests it is not a positive one.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: This is a lie

        I'm not sure I buy that argument. This firm apparently specializes in hiding assets. There are few legitimate uses for that, but plenty of illegitimate ones like dodging taxes or hiding assets from a divorced spouse.

        If you simply want to keep ordinary people and criminals from finding out your net worth, you don't need an impenetrable web of offshore shell companies to do so.

  13. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm an international money launderer...

    Luckily the 50 euro note that I'd left in my jeans after a recent trip to Austria was still in one piece when it came out of the washing machine.

    1. ICPurvis47

      Re: I'm an international money launderer...

      Once had a five pound note refused at a chip shop because it fluoresced under their fraud lamp. It had been left in my jeans pocket and gone through the wash, and the brightening agents in the washing powder had been absorbed by the note.

  14. 0laf Silver badge

    Lots of data

    It does seem like an awful lot of data.

    I wonder if someone walked out with a bunch of backup tapes or just plugged in a couple of big removable drives to slurp the data. Dissafected senior employee with an axe to grind?

    Or maybe did they have their stuff in an oh-so-fashionable cloud service, and the Bad-hacker popped the door on it and download from the comfort of his lair.

  15. Andy 97

    It's golden bonus day for every PR agency.

    Can you imagine the fevered telephone calls following the exposure of this?

    If I was a yacht or sports car dealer I'd be launching an extensive campaign of my own.

  16. Paul Smith

    Dodgy dealings doubled

    "The documents landed first at German outlet Sueddeutsche Zeitung last year".

    Last year! Why has it taken so long for any mention of it to be released? Could it be that the actual guilty parties have been given a chance to clean up their act? David Cameron's daddy was a bit naughty, but was David really that squeaky clean? How about Blair or Sarkozy, Chirac or Merkel. I don't care about Putin as I expect him to be bent, but I would love to know about the Clintons and Trumps of this world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dodgy dealings doubled

      "The documents landed first at German outlet Sueddeutsche Zeitung last year".

      Last year! Why has it taken so long for any mention of it to be released?

      Now we know what slow readers do when they're not busy complaining about Alistair's articles :).

      Mind you, if you're into rare metals it may be time to invest in polonium shares - I suspect there will be an increase in demand if I see the number The Guardian is playing on Putin & friends with these papers.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Dodgy dealings doubled

      "Why has it taken so long for any mention of it to be released?"

      Because by all accounts the hard drive which got handed over was full of data, but it was totally disjointed and journalists have had to piece together a jigsaw puzzle to make much sense of it.

      It could take _years_ to fully assemble the pieces to see who's connected to whom and how.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dodgy dealings doubled

        It could take _years_ to fully assemble the pieces to see who's connected to whom and how.

        I think the main work must have been the OCR of all the scans. They already have software to mine such a treasure trove, I presume that was developed during the start of Wikileaks. I'm not sure what it is, but I've seen efforts like that based on the semantic web principle so I assume it'll be something like that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dodgy dealings doubled

          I think that some of the software was actually developed before the start of Wikileaks. I've worked on a project which involved some ICIJ members, and they suggested we use OpenCalais, which under that name is slightly more recent than Wikileaks but appears to have history under a different brand going back several years more.

  17. ukgnome

    Oh my - I am so surprised that the over privileged few have taken steps to hide their money affairs and have cheated taxation systems in their native countries. Surely they are all above board types that are beyond reproach?

  18. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    "Bent" springs to mind

    as in Mavolio Bent

    OK, I'll be going. The one with "Making Money" in the pocket, please

  19. Simon Ward
    Mushroom

    A ... mazing

    Now that his family's tax affairs are under scrutiny, Call-Me-Dave is *all* about privacy.

    Hypocritical twat.

    Also, "we have operated above reproach for more than 40 years" enters the great lexicon of lies along with "I love you", "the cheque's in the post" and "no, I won't come in your mouth".

    They deserve to burn. All of them.

  20. thomas k

    Despite a lot of red faces ...

    I certainly don't expect anything to change. Torches and pitchforks are pretty ineffectual against tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Despite a lot of red faces ...

      "Torches and pitchforks are pretty ineffectual against tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons."

      At some point the people weilding those devices may well decide that they're defending the wrong people - especially given the vast majority of army recruitment is from the very communities that call-me-dave is hurting most with his welfare cuts.

  21. BugabooSue
    WTF?

    Where is the "Cameron Money" now?

    And has tax, the RIGHT tax, finally been paid on it?

    I'm sorry if this seems a bit dim of me, or I've missed it, but just what has happened to that money?

    Has it 'mysteriously' vanished?

    I do REALLY hope that Hameron is forced to answer publicly in PMQ's.

    Smug git.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where is the "Cameron Money" now?

      It was inherited by Cameron's mother.

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/apr/20/cameron-family-tax-havens

      As long as they keep the money in the fund, it doesn't incur tax. But it will incur inheritance tax when she dies. Inheritance between spouses does not come under inheritance tax which is how it went from Camerons dad to his mum without being a tax matter. That won't be the case if interests in that fund are inherited by UK citizens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where is the "Cameron Money" now?

        However if it stays offshore it can buy as many houses / cars / Private Eye Christmas Annuals it wants - as long as they are all owned by the trust and he just happens to use them.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet-facing filing cabinet...

    Seedy dirty-money aside for a moment... The law firm had an internet-facing filing cabinet, despite all the hacks in the news 2-5 years before! Cant help but feel this is due in part to IT staff being relegated to plumbers instead of being viewed as well-paid sought after experts...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Plumbers

      If you think about it... plumbing is critical infrastructure in any company, and you need competent well-paid professionals doing it.

      There was a sewer backup at company where I once worked. The paper archives, stored in boxes on pallets in the basement, literally got soaked in sewage and had to be securely destroyed... somehow. Fun times :)

  23. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    Ramon Fonseca told Panama's Channel 2 the leaked documents are authentic...

    God bless you, Mister Zimmermann. You've made things so much easier.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Putin

    He is good Russian. Strong Russian. Covered in bears.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Putin

      Clearly I've been watching too much Eddie Izzard (if that is possible), I read "covered in bees" :).

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: Putin

        "Clearly I've been watching too much Eddie Izzard (if that is possible), I read "covered in bees" :)."

        Yer lucky. Due to too much wandering on the Internets, I had a different image regarding those 'Bears'.

  25. Ralph B

    Parentage

    >the late father of British PM David Cameron, Vladimir Putin

    I think Putin is still alive, but I didn't know he was Dave's Dad. The thing's we've learnt from the Panama Papers, eh?

  26. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    I'm waiting for...

    ...the "stiff" reprisals against the Mossak Foneseca staff. They've made a lot of psychopaths very unhappy.

  27. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    No coverage in the US

    It's interesting to see there's one story on Reuters about Iceland's PM having political problems, and one about China putting a lid on the "Panama Papers". That's it for coverage in the US. There's nothing on CNN, AP, or anywhere else.

    I only know about it because I read the BBC daily.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No coverage in the US

      Sanitized news...

      Because its in your best interests not to know. It would only upset you to learn how your overlords really work. Now break's over, back to the production line serfs!

      Seriously, in my house we put on CNN when we want a good laugh. Whatever the real news is, CNN provides a reliable myopic focus on something else....

      The agendas in big-news are so huge, they're practically transparent. But a large portion of 300m of my fellow Americans, still can't see this and probably never will...

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: No coverage in the US

      I've been seeing this for a few days. I think that we're not hearing much here in the States is because the "right people for a good headline" haven't been involved yet. If a Trump, Clinton, Obama, etc. were involved, the appropriate news orgs* would be screaming headlines at us.

      *appropriate in the sense that a conservative news org would be screaming for Clinton or Obama's head and a liberal news org would be screaming for Trump's head.

  28. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    But the law

    company is only 1 of 4 major law firms involved in this shell game of 'hide the money'.......

    Lets hope some MPs get named.. although given the past experience of MPs being naughty(excess expenses claims/house flipping etc) they'll be smacked on the hand and told not to be naughty again instead of slung in jail for tax evasion and have to pay 200% of the tax owed + another 200% as a fine..

  29. Adalat

    Pointless closing the stable door now

    2.6TB? I'm sure such a leak won't happen again... there wouldn't be that much left!

  30. Brent Beach

    The general conclusion that given the scarcity of US names of the list there must be some US connection filtering the material has a weakness - it is possible that for legal reasons US citizens don't use a Panama legal firm when doing this. The US - Panama connection may have legal flaws.

    Just saying there could well be another explanation.

    It seems to me it is likely that this dump is clean - it arrived at the German newspaper clean, no filtering.

    Look for another reason for the scarcity of US names on the list.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who cares

    whos on the list, all guilty as charge, confiscate all their assets and then share it with the general population in the form of a special dividend.

    Give us a bit of communism.

    No one would complain, except those on the list, but they don't count, they're criminals!

    TYVM.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's plausible reason why there are no US Names

    I'm a UK ExPat living in the land of the free & just realized most of you are blissfully unaware of :

    www.irs.gov/uac/Whistleblower-Informant-Award/

    TLDR - snitch on a tax fraud and prove it and you can be awarded 30% of what the IRS recovers.

    Also a plausible motive for the hack as well...

  33. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    But if that nice Mr Putin has so much money, how come he can't afford a shirt to go riding in?

  34. cd
    Coffee/keyboard

    I hope everyone gets a year of free credit monitoring from Experian from Mossack Fonseca.

  35. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Where is the illegality?

    ...Given the vagaries of defamation law, every outlet reporting on the breach including The Register is constrained to note that there are legitimate reasons for using such entities, including estate planning and inheritance rules, so it's unsound to assume that all Mossack Fonseca customers were breaking the law....

    Actually, it's unsound to assume that ANY Mossack Fonseca customers were breaking the law. The vast majority are presumably running offshore accounts, and these are frequently set up by people who are able to claim that the money they earn is not tied to a specific country, and should not therefore be taxed by that country.

    This is often viewed as 'unfair' by people who are tied into a specific countries tax regime, but it's not generally illegal. It MAY be supporting an illegal transaction, depending on the specific details of the case,but simply having an offshore account is not something you can be charged with.

    The interesting stories will no doubt turn up when accountants go through these papers and unearth specific wrongdoings. But I can't see why people are jumping up and down about the mere existence of an offshore account....?

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