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[dupe] Panama Papers - 2.6TB leak on offshore tax havens (sueddeutsche.de)
357 points by goshx on April 4, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 79 comments

I think less quality coverage, but interesting to watch the news spread through media here:

- https://www.yahoo.com/news/putin-aides-among-world-leaders-e...

- https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/associates-of-...

- http://www.usatoday.com/ (prominent on front page)

- http://time.com/4280200/panama-papers-vladimir-putin-russia-...

- newyorktimes.com buried under politics http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/04/us/politics/leaked-documen...

Nothing on CNN's front page as of yet. Don't know if on TV. Imagine editorial staff doing catch up, but wonder why they weren't collaborating earlier. Maybe AOL/TimeWarner are in there?

No leaks involving Americans (yet).

Don't expect to hear much on that front: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/04/corporate-me...

Editor says there may be some:



Also, I hope journalists are asking the "accused" for their comments, and giving them time to respond, as journalistic best practice.

"Some" really isn't good enough. From what I've been able to put together, the whole thing seems choreographed if not outright rigged. Why is it that Putin and Assad seem to be the only targets with the initial release?

I will have a hard time believing any of the reporting until the raw data is released.

The group putting out this leak is also funded by George Soros and Rockefeller Funds through OpenSociety.

Makes me skeptical to say the least.

Süddeutsche Zeitung is funded by Soros? Any proof? And here I thought it was owned by five Munich publisher families for generations - Friedmann, Goldschagg, Seidlein, Schwingenstein and Dürrmeier...

(BTW, people will believe your rather out-of-the-box accusations more if you don't create separate brand-new accounts to post them.)

So is the data correct or is it not?

Even if this was orchestrated by the usual US suspects, the rest of the world has some house cleaning to do.

That does seem extremely odd, considering the alleged size of the leak. Waiting to see what the explanation is there.

The "Oh this is the biggest leak ever because it's lots of TB" is also stupid. For all we know it's huge because it contains a bunch of scanned faxes.

Warning: If you click through to the article itself it will automatically start playing music. You might want to turn your volume down if you are in an environment where that would be inappropriate.

Can someone explain me if reading these documents is even legal for journalists? I mean I am pretty sure most of the people that used that law office are completely innocent and having their personal information leaked and now read and investigated by some journalists is kind of crime in its own, I would not want my legal papers stolen and read by anybody if I am doing everything according to the law.

My question is - what legal right do these journalists have to read this confidential information?

Mere possession of information is rarely illegal. The right to possess information - even that which was gleaned illegally initially, goes back further than the US Constitution and is clearly established.

If you are interested in the current jurisprudence surrounding the matter of when possessing information can be (and can't be) illegal, you might be interested in "illegal numbers": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_number

But can't this Mossack Fonseca firm now go ahead and send a legal request to these journalists to delete these confidential documents and journalists will have to comply with it? It's just so hard to believe for me that company confidential information is not protected by any law and these leaks can happen with no punishment for those who possess this confidential information. It's a great success that this leak had some information to bring public's attention to individuals who evade taxes, but what if there was no compromising data in it - does it mean you can get away with just reading people's confidential data?

> company confidential information is not protected by any law

This is not the case. Presumably the original leaker(s) are in violation of their contracts with the company and possibly Panamanian criminal law (which I know nothing about). In some jurisdictions, there may also be statutory civil liability surrounding the subsequent losses realized as the result of the information being in the hands of these non-parties.

Aren't these documents the copyright of Mossack Fonseca? They could just sue everyone reproducing copies for copyright infringement, beyond just the original leaker breaking contract and also committing copyright infringement.

If there is no license, full rights are reserved and copyright is implied.

They could sue but they would lose because of fair use/fair dealing clauses. In the UK for instance the rule is:

"Fair dealing for criticism, review or quotation is allowed for any type of copyright work. Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of reporting current events is allowed for any type of copyright work other than a photograph. In each of these cases, a sufficient acknowledgment will be required."

I am not a lawyer, but as far as I know there is no US law that makes it illegal for a civilian to see something. It's important, though, that if you have a security clearance you can be fired or put in jail for reading something outside of your clearance but those laws don't apply to normal people.

It's unclear why my response is getting downvoted when other people are giving normative answers to a legal question.

> It's important, though, that if you have a security clearance you can be fired or put in jail for reading something outside of your clearance but those laws don't apply to normal people.

What happens if your clearance is secret and you are doing your job and some time later, they decide something you were working is now top secret?

Or if your clearance is secret and TS stuff is on the morning NYTimes?

I'm sure the military has all sorts of rules about this that makes no sense but a lot of non military also have these clearances. Who reads the 150 some page application in its entirety?

Again, I'm pretty sure that the military will not hold you responsible for something you were shown. That is, I don't see how they would hold someone responsible for being accidentally exposed to something on the morning news. That said, there are many articles from around the Snowden times that talk about the Navy and Air Force blocking wikileaks so that people won't expose themselves to things outside their sec level. Here's one I was able to find from around that time: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/15/us/15wiki.html .

It might seem backwards, but members of the military are subject to trial by military tribunal. They agree to this when they sign up, and you agree to more restrictions on your actions when you apply for security clearances. I don't know specifically what they are and I am not a military lawyer, but I have five or six friends who have at one point or another had S or TS clearance in the army, navy, and two other three-letter agencies and have had casual discussions with them about it.

tl;dr: You agree not to read things outside your security clearance when you get one. If you do so, you're subject to legal repercussions. It's my understanding that going to a website and knowingly downloading these things would be treated similarly to reading something using a coworkers network account that has access to a higher security level than your own.

As long as journalists didn't hack into server and got the information themselves, they can read leaked information without fear of prosecution.

However engaging in publishing of the leaked information 'may' get them in trouble, unless it is in public's interest to do so. And that's a big 'may'.

See the quoted block below.


A few things to consider when evaluating the morality of this leak:

1. I can assure you that the majority of people purchasing services from Mossack Fonseca are not "completely innocent".

2. There is firm precedent for the legality of whistleblowing when you believe there to be crimes occurring.

3. "Who owns a business" is not generally considered to be a highly protected class of information, and that's mostly what the data in the leak is about. It's generally about board structure and ownership of various shell companies.

4. Only in Panama (and a few other countries) is business ownership information considered to be "confidential" information.

But to answer your direct question - what legal right do these journalists have? I believe they have the same legal right all citizens do: the right to know if our leaders are committing crimes secretly.

The leak occurred in Panama. It might have something to do with Panamanian laws, but there are no international laws regarding the use of leaked data as far as I know. It isn't a crime against humanity.

It's not illegal. You reserve rights that are not explicitly taken away.


>Generally speaking, owning an offshore company is not illegal in itself. In fact, establishing an offshore company can be seen as a logical step for a broad range of business transactions. However, a look through the Panama Papers very quickly reveals that concealing the identities of the true company owners was the primary aim in the vast majority of cases.

This makes it sound like owning an offshore company solely to conceal your identity is illegal. Is that true?

It actually all depends on what you want to do. Opening an overseas is not illegal for Americans, you just have to declare it when you file your taxes. However, having a bank account out of the reach of creditors or others who may seek legal action against you is advisable for people in certain fields. You could be a doctor in a risky part of medicine where people will sue you at a drop of a hat. You would put your money into a Cook Island Trust and then no one can get access to it. You are not doing anything illegal, you have paid taxes on that money and the government knows about it. Someone who has gained money through crime or sinister methods could do the same thing, but instead an American judge would just throw them in jail until they returned the funds.

You could also own a company that does the majority of its business overseas. If you need to move money from one part of the world to another, sometimes it is just easier to keep it in Panama or Singapore. When you move the money back into the US, you would have to pay taxes on it.

However in all cases, if you have an overseas account with a lot of money in it, you must accept that you are willing to flee the US to keep it.

It highly depends on your country of tax residence and citizenship.

And the countries in which you do business that in some way involves the offshore entity.

Even if concealing your identity isn't illegal, you may be concealing it because you're involved in something shady. Like tax evasion.

You wouldn't describe your position on cryptography and privacy in general as "moderate" by any chance?

I don't think those two things are analogous. Being an owner of a company is something decidedly public. It has nothing to do with encryption or privacy.

> decidedly public

If that were true then the concept of registered agents wouldn't be tolerated, but in reality they're commonly used - even by the lowly working class setting up their LLCs. In any case, an appeal to the tyranny of the majority isn't a strong argument - I certainly wasn't a part of that decision... unless we're talking about the social contract I implicitly agreed to upon emerging from the birth canal.

It's kind of sad, that the data is not really published. I mean i cant go to some side and take a look at the data. Maybe this is one reason:

"The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

- Ford Foundation - Carnegie Endowment - Rockefeller Family Fund - W K Kellogg Foundation - Open Society Foundation (Soros)" [1]

[1] https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/04/corporate-me...

I also wish the data was published in its raw form so people can not only form their own conclusions but maybe someone out there would find an interesting link that no other journalists have found.

Otherwise it's like reading a research paper that provides no raw data - this way the analysis is not replicable by third parties.

Hi throwaway user, The leak is being managed by Süddeutsche Zeitung, which used the ICIJ to distribute the data to 100+ different newspapers.

Are you accusing SZ to be in the pocket of your US corporate overlords? Or are you trying to drop names to discredit the leak?

It pleases me greatly that the firm is located in Panama, and therefore has a strange sounding name to native English ears and a menacing looking logo that looks like something that walked right on out of a Bond movie.

I guess the real world isn't so boring afterall.

Native english ears reporting in, sorry to disappoint you but the name and logo do not strike me as sinister in the least - it looks like the name and logo of a company that would make ink blotters.

I wonder who did the leak? I wonder if the law firm knows who did it and where he is now?

My guess is some sys admin presumely at some central office (as this spans the whole company); I mean 2.6TB data - not so easy for an average lawyer to download to his laptop.

My guess is more than one IT person is not going to show up to work tomorrow.

Good call and probably European given the choice of paper leaked too.

It is Germany's largest newspaper.

The data probably would have been handed over in person.

My guess is he is German speaking; maybe from Switzerland or Liechtenstein.

But I wonder about doing something like this: He is not exactly protected, what he has done is illegal (at least to some extent - whistleblower laws etc.), he stands to make no personal gains.

One thing is being a high profile whistleblower like Snowden or Assange. But this guy? Where does he end up?

I have never heard of this paper. But really impressed with what they have managed to pull off. Kudos!

It would be cool to see the global engineering community coming together in a similar manner that the journos have, towards one such big project.

Sueddeutsche is one of the major papers in Germany. It is worth being aware of major papers in large countries if you pay attention to foreign affairs.

This data has been out there for a year, Vice did a piece about it a long time ago. I'm sure there are some juicy things in there, but I highly doubt it will be as explosive as some seem think it will be (especially as the stories begin to rollout over the next 14 days.)

If anything it will be an interesting insight into how tightly knit world leaders are to one another and their investments. The story does say that more data is expected to come in, about 700GBs worth...so that could be new material. However, as it stands I don't think this will cause much upheaval. It does almost read like a plot to a Stieg Larsson novel though, and I'm sure someone is going to write a terrific book about it all.

I do hope there is a lot of explosive material in here, but I do have my doubts, given the amount of time the data has been available.

Here's the Vice article from 2014. http://www.vice.com/read/evil-llc-0000524-v21n12

Why is Mossack Fonceca company website excluded from Wayback Machine? https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://mossfon.com

You can choose to have your own website excluded from archival.

It's interesting to see how leak disclosure has changed over the years. Leakers/reporters are increasingly sophisticated at maximizing the impact of their information through titrated disclosure.

Someone, somewhere, is building the theory of the optimal leak.

I'd be surprised if the method employed for Snowden's leak is ever topped - several of the first reveals were responded to by the USG, and then the following day the next reveal would demonstrate the response to be a lie. I don't remember the specifics of it, but I do remember wondering how long it would take the PR folks in government to realize that their spin was actually amplifying the message. I'm pretty sure it took three news cycles. It might have been less to do with masterfully predicting the media and government response, and more to do with the amount of evidence available - but it was hilarious (in the darkest way possible).

If you want to burn your ideas into the minds of as many people as possible, the timings are probably similar to spaced repetition[1]. In other words: Lots of leaks early on; on the order of every day or two. Then taper off and only leak new stuff right before people are likely to forget you exist. If you can stretch things out for six months or so, you're embedded in the public psyche.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition

Is it just me or is this expose surprisingly low on American citizens?

Is this one of the times when conspiracy theory could be conspiracy fact? It feels like this is an extremely selective release.

From the Reddit live thread: The Editor in Chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung responded to the lack of United States individuals in the documents, saying to "Just wait for what is coming next".

Perhaps they don't want the individuals in the initial release to be overshadowed. Everything in good time.

Good news :)

Finger crossed for some dirt on Hillary.

(Assuming you are a US citizen from your previous comments)

Why are you hoping one of your presidential candidates is corrupt? Shouldn't you be crossing your fingers not to find dirt?

Many people have totally lost faith in establishment politicians... our system is constantly exploited by business and even "good" politicians have shady support (through lobbying/superpacs/etc). If a mainstream politician is implicated in this mess, it gives the public concrete evidence to improve the status quo.

It's like the Snowden leaks. Many knew about the NSA conspiracies years before his information came out. For all those years the public was blind to their rights slowly slipping away as precedents were set, while those that knew were ignored as paranoid nutters. Now we can see the light.

edit: to be clear, I'm not talking about any specific politician here.

Some people don't care what it takes to get their guy to win. If she has corrupt dealings, I hope they are exposed, but I don't hope she has corrupt dealings (though many would already say she does).

To many people, the sunshine that exposing scandal brings is much needed. Consider the fact that the Church Committee was formed only after Watergate.

Many of us know that establishment politicians are utterly compromised. It's similar to the Edward Snowden revelations. We just need proof.

Many people are already convinced that Hillary is corrupt. When that is the case, finding dirt is a desirable thing.

(I don't have strong opinions on the matter, by the way.)

Or perhaps Americans have a different organization they go to when they want to form shell companies.

I think it is selective. They say they will reveal more in May.

It's definitely a very focused search. There will almost certainly be more coverage over the coming days/weeks. It is reported that a full list of names and companies linked will be released in early May. http://www.irishtimes.com/business/what-are-the-panama-paper...

from https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/04/corporate-me...

"The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

Ford Foundation Carnegie Endowment Rockefeller Family Fund W K Kellogg Foundation Open Society Foundation (Soros)"

Is there a torrent available for us to download the documents?

There are banking details, passports, drivers license info for thousands of people.. It'd be hugely irresponsible to publish all of that in a Torrent.. Redacted docs are accompanying all of the news reports.

More or less irresponsible than to "manage" access through rather establishment org?

- Passports: Not Secret.

- Drivers Licenses: Also Not Secret.

- Banking details of the people who have been ripping off the rest of the world...sorry if I fail to see the downside of dumping all of it :)


At the same time, I understand where you're coming from so thanks for the info mikeyouse!

Some of whom had been ripping off the world, many of whom who are completely innocent.. Also, it'd be incredibly easy to steal identities of just about anyone in the data dump if you had the level of detail the documents have.

How are documents that can directly lead to the identity theft of people not a privacy issue?

You see, in a civilized world you would treat people by the same standards that you want to be treated.

I could only find these 149 documents so far: https://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/Source:%20%22Int...

In terms of e-discovery, 2.6TB is not really all that large.

Large, in terms of e-discovery, is on the order of 1PB.



You're supposed to log out of your sockpuppet account before replying to yourself.

Brilliant. Thanks for the laugh.

Looking for some creative data filtering here, hackers.

TLDR - The super wealthy use loopholes & hide money offshore to avoid taxes / etc

But now we know it's Person A, Person B, etc. and not just "the rich"

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