Who leaked the Panama Papers? A famous financial whistleblower says: CIA


#1

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#2

Doubtful. I don’t think the docs were scrubbed of information that harms US interests - they were indiscriminate. Mossack Fonseca just didn’t have many US clients. The sheer size of the dump suggests it was everything. Can you imagine having to read - what was it, a million documents - to choose the ones that further the national interest? If Youtube can’t handle that much data, there’s no way the government can.


#3

It’s not everything. The ICIJ has said certain names haven’t been released to protect private citizens. That the leak serves some agenda other than fiscal transparency seems very plausible to me.


#4

I’ve also heard it proposed that that US tax laws are already so catered to the mega-wealthy that they don’t need to hide their money offshore.

I don’t know if I believe that-- on one hand the wealthy do have a lot of influence on tax laws here, on the other hand I still think that wouldn’t stop them from using a hidden offshore scheme to keep every single penny.


#5

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t targeted. They don’t need to scrub everything, and presumably they don’t care about all of the rich people in America. It’s at least plausible to me.

On the other hand, it’s complete speculation from someone who should not be considered an expert despite his tangential experience. Would you believe I could tell you the name of a chef who cooked a dish on the basis that I myself have cooked many things? I don’t see why Birkenfeld has any credibility on this.


#6

Indeed, this guy’s logic isn’t exactly bulletproof. It doesn’t follow at all from the underrepresentation of US clients in MF’s records that the source of the information was a US intelligence agency. The fallout from the leak may ultimately be advantageous the the US national interest, but that’s neither here nor there in terms of its actual origins. And anyway, if a lot of US nationals had been implicated in the MF leak, couldn’t it just have been a “false flag” designed to throw the wokest of woke folks off the scent? You can’t talk them out of it.

The conspiracy theorist mindset is all about reducing complex, unpredictable events to a small set of predictable causes. This gives the small, powerless individual the illusion of mastery over the things that cause him or her anxiety. Everything that has, might, and ever will happen can be ascribed to all-powerful shadowy actors… and even when things seemingly don’t fit, that’s just what they want you to believe. That makes his or her relative powerlessness over his or her own life (much less global affairs) forgiveable… why bother, if the fix is in no matter what you do?


#7

No, but I would be willing to sample your cooking.


#8

It’s like the World Cup. The American public really doesn’t like the idea that there is something huge going on and America is only involved peripherally.


#9

I mean, I’m glad he threw this theory out there, but obviously the most likely case is that it was an internal job.


#10

I just don’t know what the CIA / the US would really stand to gain.

I mean, it’s not like there’s some secret grudge against Icelandic prime ministers or whatever as far as I know?

…though maybe it’s a long con to destabilize areas rich in natural resources to allow us to usher in a more US / open trade friendly regime…it’d be a pretty long con, though. Have oil companies really wanted their paws on Panamanian natural resources for years? No clue.


#11

The United Kingdom is a big ally of the US, and has had many embarrassing revelations via the Panama Papers. So I don’t see how, if this was some CIA plot, they would avoid other US allies but still have the UK be embarrased. They may be our most supportive ally in the world, including Canada.


#12

This first round of articles are centered around politicians and unambiguously public figures. The ICIJ has said there are many, many Americans implicated, and plenty of U.S. “celebrities,” but they didn’t want the story to be about celebrity scandals, they wanted it to be about politicians lying and illegal acts. They haven’t (yet) found any U.S. politicians implicated in the leak.

We also have the best “offshore” tax havens available right here on our shores. Delaware and Wisconsin, to name some of the easiest.

Anyway, for a nuanced look at this, and plausible non-conspiratorial responses from the horses’ mouths, listen to the most recent On The Media episode, “Rolling In It”:


#13

Makes sense, the worse damage goes to ‘un-friendly’ countries to the US, with the possible exception of Cameron who has already in his final term (a promise he made before his election). Even the Iceland resignation/protest/fun can be seen as a spanking from the US for actually jailing bankers for their part of the 2008 economic collapse.


#14

Yes, that’s something the conspiracy theories never address. Most of the top handful of names on the first day may have been non-western, but it is unlikely that anything will ever come of that. The impact is mostly felt in the western world.

Perhaps it was a vast conspiracy to hurt a rather eclectic mix of more or less notable western figures, but that would be a different conspiracy theory.


#15

The good thing about conspiracy theories, though, is that they are pretty easy to change on the fly if necessary.


#16

It’s definitely not the case that the US is favorable enough to discourage offshoring(indeed, our theoretical corporate tax rate is actually pretty high; hence the interminable list of ‘US Companies’ that mysteriously don’t actually own anything and make zero profit because they spend every penny they can scrape up stateside licensing IP that was…totally…produced by their lawyer and PO box in Ireland, the Caymans, or wherever); but between the fairly favorable laws of incorporation provided by the fact that all 50 states basically compete on who can be more ‘customer service oriented’ (I hear Nevada takes a particularly ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ approach these days); and the fact that much of our oligarchic plunder is either actually legal or ‘could-probably-be-prosecuted; but nobody who could so much as get elected to school board would seriously consider pushing the issue’; there probably isn’t the same amount of demand for the services of clandestine and offshore operations. If you just want clandestine, you don’t need to leave the country; and if you want offshore you can still get the requisite advice domestically, though you’ll need at least a token agent in the approprate tax shelter.
Plus, the US is pretty stable from the perspective of the would-be oligarch: Sometimes the republicans win, sometimes the democrats win; occasionally a proposal to modify the tax code actually goes somewhere; but when was the last time that somebody who had been using their political power/relationship to someone with political power suddenly had the wind shift and ended up doing hard time, or even being stripped of a meaningful percentage of their assets, when the wind shifted?

If I were, say, a family friend of somebody in the right bit of the Chinese Communist Party; and had been doing well by doing good; I’d be seriously concerned about what might happen to my cash, if not to me personally, if my good buddy were to lose a fight over political influence or get caught up in one of the periodic corruption purges. Things could actually get serious.

If I were an American in an analogous situation? Nah. We have people who, in seriousness, suggest that upping capital gains taxes by a percentage point or two is basically one step from starting up the death camps. Why worry?


#17

I thought the US names were coming soonish?


#18

My favorite theory so far is that Putin leaked the stuff. Hey, why not :slight_smile:


#19

I’m underconvinced by the conspiracy theory(wow, a boutique law firm doesn’t have a client list that includes equal representation of people from all nations? Either the CIA or Mossad, gotta be…); but if I were trying to retcon the UK-related leaks, I’d go with the…admittedly interesting… fact that Mr. Cameron did a bit of lobbying for the position that offshore trusts, totally coincidentally like the one that Dear Old Dad set up…) should be excluded from EU-level proposals to crack down on tax avoidance strategies that the US, UK, and various EU member states have taken an interest in trying get a bit more of a grasp on.

We don’t have too much in the way of obvious gain from throwing a spanner into the works in the UK(except perhaps in the sense that The City of London and New York are competitors for the world’s supply of not-too-dirty money); but a little nudge encouraging Dave to stop meddling with such cross-jurisdiction tax avoidance crackdowns as we do approve of might have been a very convenient opportunity.


#20

Hmmm… I thought we were on pretty good terms with the UK. So, no, not buying it.