back to article Panama Papers graph database cracked open for world+dog

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has announced it will be releasing the structured data from the leaked Mossack Fonseca database on May 9. The searchable database is not intended to be a "data dump", but will include curated information "about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 …

  1. CJ_C
    Pint

    All power to ICJ!

    Title says it all.

  2. Alexander J. Martin
    Thumb Up

    re: ICJ

    I don't think the International Court of Justice is involved.

    Yet.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: re: ICJ

      Since 370 journos have spent 5 months searching the records and have failed to identify any illegal behaviour, I think it's unlikely it will be (that and the fact that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in civil matters). The most astounding revelation to date is that dodgy dictators like to hide funds offshore. Wow! Who knew?

      1. Smooth Newt
        WTF?

        Re: failed to identify any illegal behaviour

        Since 370 journos have spent 5 months searching the records and have failed to identify any illegal behaviour, I think it's unlikely it will be (that and the fact that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in civil matters).

        Investigations into alleged tax fraud and money laundering have been started by numerous governments - e.g. US, France, Spain, Australia etc

        http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/19/panama-papers-us-justice-department-investigation-tax-avoidance

        http://www.france24.com/en/20160404-panama-papers-france-opens-money-laundering-probe

        etc. ad nauseum

      2. theblackhand

        Re:illegal behavior

        I think it is too early to judge the illegal behavior element as it will take time to sort out:

        - entities that are using the service for legal and morally justifiable reasons

        - entities that are using the service for legal but morally unjustifiable reasons

        - entities that are using the service for illegal reasons now (i.e. Austrlain citizens (around 900) would appear to fall into this category due to their tax laws - potentially US citizens as well, but not aware of any so far as they are more likely to have used legal US tax havens)

        - entities that are using the service for illegal reasons in the future... i.e. the actions of some politicians or their friends and families that are "allowed" now, but a future regime may have a different view.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: ICJ

        Since 370 journos...

        They have. Just not where you looking for:

        1. Several cases of sanctions busting and sanctions bypass by various middle-eastern regimes under sanctions.

        2. Corruptions on planetary system scale involving leases of natural resources by various African banana republics and clown dictatorships to usual suspect mining companies. Pretty much the plot of "Dogs of War" repeated again... and again... and again... Sure, dodgy dictators hide funds offshore. Question is not that they hid them, question is where the funds came from and quite often the Panama papers have that trail too pointing to the set of usual mining suspects. That subject falls under the foreign corruption act in the USA and according to USA law it has jurisdiction over these provided that any of the parties involved have any assets in USA (and they do).

        3. Undeclared conflicts of interest similar to the Iceland case are actually criminal offenses under fraud and corruption statutes in most of the developed countries involved. However, the story there is the same as with 2007. Then, only Iceland prosecuted some of the culprits. Everyone else got off. Some went on to become prime ministers despite presiding over decades of monumental accounting fraud in their capacity as central bank chairmen.

        So coming back to your statement - they have uncovered plenty of stuff. However, there is different justice for people who pass the real criteria for admittance to certain private schools (having an off shore trust fund). So they will not get prosecuted. As their "justice" is not the "justice" (quotes intended and needed) which applies to plebs like you and me.

        1. g e

          Re: re: ICJ

          Well perhaps with luck, some of those 'public servants' who voted against having their own tax/financial records investigated might get the outcome they tried so eagerly to prevent after all.

      4. BurnT'offering

        Re: re: ICJ

        Journalists don't decide what's illegal

      5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: re: ICJ

        What the journos find is not a criminal case. That can only be brought by the relevant governments. It is more likely the criminal cases will turn on relatively obscure and arcane points of tax and business law. Stuff that rarely makes a sexy headline, the menage a trois involving Elton John sells better.

  3. Ilmarinen

    "curated information"

    We'll have to wait till someone leaks the full data set to see if there is any truth in the suggestion that the data released so far has been slanted at attacking "nasty right wing" sorts while avoiding folks acceptable to Guardian readers...

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Re: "curated information"

      I did wonder about the trustworthiness of ICIJ themselves. As Fox Mulder says, "Trust no one!"

      1. alferdpacker

        Re: "curated information"

        You don't trust that guy do you?!

    2. theModge

      Re: "curated information"

      The absence almost complete of American's is enough to cause some head scratching as well. Are they all really super keen to pay tax?

      1. Bumpy Cat

        Re: "curated information"

        Citizens of the US who want to efficiently structure their business affairs for tax minimization can use the tax and business offerings of the state of Delaware, which offers similar benefits to offshoring but is conveniently in the US.

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: "curated information"

        As Bumpy Cat noted, in the US companies are registered in a specific state, often Delaware, and can do business through the US. The issue for most Yanks trying to keep from being fleeced by the IRS are related thieves is how to structure the business entities so most of the money is safely out of reach. There are a few legal if morally suspect methods that are well known in the US. Using a Panamanian shyster house would not normally make sense since the various Caribbean islands are a short flight away and would make a nice working vacation.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: "curated information"

        The absence almost complete of American's is enough to cause some head scratching as well. Are they all really super keen to pay tax?

        As BumpyCat points out, there's lots of tax shelters here in the States. That is unless you're something like a drug lord or have a need to launder money then it's a different game. Also, USA types are less likely to use Panama for moving money just because that would really attract attention due to the politics.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          In the US

          If you want corporate privacy and avoidance of state corporate income taxes, you incorporate in Delaware, because they have the most business friendly corporate laws in the country. There's a single address in Delaware where 285,000 corporations are registered. Including several hundred owned by Donald Trump, and at least one owned by the Bill and Hillary Clinton. The latter have had to make tax returns public for the last couple decades so they aren't hiding income, probably just something their tax attorney set up for them to simplify their taxes when they do speaking engagements all over the US / world, but as the talking heads on TV would say "the optics of it are not good".

          If you want to try to avoid US federal taxes, that is to legally delay owing them for as long as possible, you have to incorporate offshore. For foreign sourced income you can leave that money offshore and until bring it into the US your corporation won't owe US taxes on it (you still need to pay any applicable foreign taxes to stay legal with other countries) This is what every company from Apple to Google to whatever company starts with the letter Z has been doing for years.

          If you want to try to dodge US federal taxes - that is to not pay taxes you legally owe - you'd do the same but need to use a few shell companies to route US income offshore. The US is reportedly getting better at detecting that sort of thing, so it probably isn't as easy to get away with as it used to be. Whether you'd use these Panamanian lawyers to help you set up part of your shell company network, or hire a US firm, or hire from someone else, I have no idea. If the Panama Papers show a shell company owned by an anonymously held Delaware corporation, the trail will end there. Well, at least publicly, but the interest of the IRS might be piqued so there could be a few tax dodgers who thought they were in the clear due to not using Swiss banks who are starting to panic right about now!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "curated information"

      You don't trot out a euphemism like"Curated Information" for no reason.

      When they follow that up by saying how they're doing this "ethically", the alarm bells really start ringing....

      1. Mark 65

        Re: "curated information"

        This really isn't like the Snowden leak and I cannot think off-hand what reason there is for not making the whole lot available to all and sundry to make their own investigations. Otherwise it seems like the analysis is being curated rather than just the information.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    I'm all for this...

    I'm all for this, and I truly believe that this controlled leaking and analysis is the only way that these corrupt financial systems will be carved open and investigated. I honestly do not believe that ANY politician really has the will to change it all - despite much rhetoric.

    I am a little sceptical however that this will REALLY change anything. The HSBC leaks were well over a year ago and as far as I can see (and I am prepared to be corrected) it's business as usual for them still? As the banks, lawyers, politicos et al are all in it together, and all as bad as each other, they all just seem to be a bit "meh" about it as they know the shitstorm will die down and that ultimately... that nothing will change. And that is a fucking tragedy.

    I'll ceveat the above in that I'm not following this all the time so am happy to hear the latest opinions.

    1. naive

      Re: I'm all for this...

      If it changes anything is hard to foresee. It is however sure that people who use similar constructs for tax abuse, sleep a bit less well. That is good news, one never knows if there will be some data leak due to whatever reason.

      Too bad that it is not possible to give people who leak data a reward like the bug bounties software companies give. People like this man and Snowden did a lot for the general well being.

      But as long the governments them selves facilitate tax evasion for gaining a quick buck, while its EU neighbor country loses millions, this will indeed not get us far in achieving a more fair share in taxes paid by people and companies. So if the British people vote for Brexit, things will get better, since "Virgin Islands" are not part of the EU anymore :).

  5. Mage Silver badge
    Happy

    Meanwhile the guy in Honduras Embassy

    I've forgotten his name.

    This is great work!

    1. Magani
      Happy

      Re: Meanwhile the guy in Honduras Embassy

      Have you possibly also forgotten the country whose embassy he's really in?

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile the guy in Honduras Embassy

      Frodo Baggins?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile the guy in Honduras Embassy

      Someone had to be first and Wikileaks were first¹. I honestly believe that they opened a door, as it were, and tested the waters so that others who followed could learn from their experience, mistakes included, and improve their strategy in order to increase visibility, reduce risks, and gain the trust of public opinion.

      In any case, I would never make fun of those who dared and tried, when I myself haven't, least I be thought a chav.

      ¹ First to make a major impact in the so-called digital age. There were plenty of others before but for one reason or another they didn't attract so much attention.

  6. BurnT'offering

    Be a shame if

    All this leaked data fell into the hands of phishers and fraudsters. I'll get some onions ready in case I need to show pity for the victims

  7. John Jennings

    There are very few legitimate reasons for an individual to create offshore shell companies. They are often there for tax evasion or money laundering or reverse mergers.

    The few legitimate reasons for a company to set up one are fairly sketchy, - hiding deals with dodgy companies.

    The panama papers are there not for the deed of setting up the company which is not illegal - rather it is a pointer to individuals who should be considered for investigation.

    Its like finding a gun that's been traced to a murder in someone's home. It doesn't prove the owner was the shooter - but you would look into them.

    More interesting will be the individuals that a state doesn't investigate - that suggests that they have power to deflect.

  8. Bloakey1

    Wicked.

    Great and more power to their collective elbow.

    Now I must say that Mar Cabra sounds like a good chap, anyone called Sea Goat {1.} is my kind of chap and far outshines names such as Algie, Bertie and Ginger who went through many a batey moment with young Biggles.

    1. Portuguese translation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wicked.

      > Now I must say that Mar Cabra sounds like a good chap

      Chapess.

      "Mar" is short of Maria del Mar, or Mary of the Sea in translation.

      Sea Goat would be Cabra do mar / cabra de mar in Portuguese, but I'm being pedantic again. Besides, I don't even speak Portuguese. :-(

  9. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Frost Nixon

    Nixon "Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

    In this Panama Papers case, there's little noise (at all) about the illegality of the leak, and the (il)legality of publishing the info.

    Much different reaction than other leaks.

    'When traditional print journalists do it, that means that it is not illegal.'

  10. Dave 15

    illegal?

    Now who makes the laws... oh yes, the rich, who don''t pay tax... er yes, the rich.... who is being prosecuted... oh yes some poor erk who got fed up with seeing millionaires paying less tax than he does.

    Nothing illegal...of course its perfectly legal for the rich not to pay tax.

  11. pete 22
    Mushroom

    IMHO they actually *should* dump the whole of it

    IMHO they actually *should* dump the whole of it online and let the consequences fall where they may. It would go a long ways towards an ethical cleansing in many countries, which the common people badly need.

  12. anoco

    New holiday on May 9th, 2017...

    Celebrating the one year anniversary of the day the internet crashed.

  13. davenewman

    Graph has stopped working

    The graph display in the box has stopped working. All you get it the list of entities at the botoom

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