Disinfo campaign commences: Panama ‘leaks’ target West’s enemies, ignore NATO criminals
Moon of Alabama
A real leak of data from a law firm in Panama would be very interesting. Many rich people and/or politicians hide money in shell companies that such firms in Panama provide. But the current heavily promoted “leak” of such data to several NATO-supporting news organization and a US government-financed “Non Government Organization” is just a lame attempt to smear some people the U.S. empire dislikes. It also creates a huge blackmail opportunity by NOT publishing certain data in return for this or that desired favor.
Already some 16 month ago Ken Silverstein reported for Vice on a big shady shell company provider, Mossak Fonseca in Panama. (Pierre Omidyar’s Intercept, for which Silverstein was then working, refused to publish the piece.) Yves Smith published several big storiesabout the Mossak Fonseca money laundering business. Silverstein also repeated the well known fact that Rami Makhlouf, a rich cousin of the Syrian president Assad, had some money hidden in Mossak Fonseca shell companies. He explains:
To conduct business, shell companies like Drex need a registered agent, sometimes an attorney, who files the required incorporation papers and whose office usually serves as the shell’s address. This process creates a layer between the shell and its owner, especially if the dummy company is filed in a secrecy haven where ownership information is guarded behind an impenetrable wall of laws and regulations. In Makhlouf’s case—and, I discovered, in the case of various other crooked businessmen and international gangsters—the organization that helped incorporate his shell company and shield it from international scrutiny was a law firm called Mossack Fonseca, which had served as Drex’s registered agent from July 4, 2000, to late 2011.
A year ago someone provided tons of data from Mossak Fonseca to a German newpaper, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The Munich daily is politically on the center right and staunchly pro NATO. It cooperates with the Guardian, the BBC, Le Monde, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and some other news organization who are all known supporters of the establishment.
The Sueddeutsche claims that the “leaked” data is about some 214,000 shell companies and 14,000 Mossak Fonseca clients. There is surely a lot of hidden dirt in there. How many U.S. Senators are involved in such companies? Which European Union politicians? What are the big Wall Street banks and hedge funds hiding in Panama? Oh, sorry. The Sueddeutsche and its partners will not answer those questions.Here is how they “analyzed” the data:
The journalists compiled lists of important politicians, international criminals, and well-known professional athletes, among others. The digital processing made it possible to then search the leak for the names on these lists. The “party donations scandal” list contained 130 names, and the UN sanctions list more than 600. In just a few minutes, the powerful search algorithm compared the lists with the 11.5 million documents.
For each name found, a detailed research process was initiated that posed the following questions: what is this person’s role in the network of companies? Where does the money come from? Where is it going? Is this structure legal?
Essentially the Sueddeutsche compiled a list of known criminals and people and organizations the U.S. dislikes and cross checked them with the “leaked” database. Selected hits were then further evaluated. The outcome are stories like the annual attempt to smear the Russian president Putin, who is not even mentioned in the Mossak Fonseca data, accusations against various people of the soccer association FIFA, much disliked by the U.S., and a few mentions of other miscreants of minor relevancy.
Comment: Some of the people named in the docs (from the Mirror): “David Cameron’s late father Ian and several Tory peers and former MPs”:
Footballer Lionel Messi and his dad, the Prime Ministers of Iceland and Azerbaijan, the King of Saudi Arabia and President of Azerbaijan are named. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is also linked. Although the Russian President is not named, files reveal money from Russian bank Rossiya – already on the EU sanctions list – was channelled through offshore firms owned by associates allegedly including concert cellist Sergei Roldugin.
Putin’s photo popped up all over the British press. This has not been lost on people in the UK, who were scathing that so little attention was being paid to allegations that the prime minister’s father had been caught up in the alleged tax evasion scandal.
The Guardian newspaper broke the story in the UK and led with the headline: “The secret $2bn trail of deals that lead all the way to Putin,” complete with a picture of the Russian president.
The irony is the Guardian put a story on David Cameron’s crusade against tax havens right next to the article on Vladimir Putin, without even mentioning the fact that the leak revealed information about the PM’s father.
Dmitry Peskov, who warned about the upcoming Putin smear last week, told journalists:
Such ‘leaks’, in our view, are meant to target audiences overseas. It is also clear that the degree of Putinophobia has reached a point where to speak well about Russia, or about some of its actions and successes is impossible. One needs to speak [about Russia] in negative terms, the more the better, and when there’s nothing to say, you need to make things up. This is obvious to us.
There is no [profound] information concerning the president – just some insinuations, speculations, reflections that do not require a response. As for the main body, it does not concern us, it has no relation to the president whatsoever.
While Putin does not appear anywhere backed by any facts, it is obvious to us that the main target behind such ‘leaks’ has been and still is our president, especially in the context of the upcoming parliamentary and, taking the long-term perspective, the presidential election in two years’ time.
We know this so-called journalistic community perfectly well, it is clear to us that a number of journalists who are part of it have hardly majored in journalism; there are many former representatives of the [US] State Department and the CIA, along with other intelligence agencies. [Moscow knows] who funds this organization.
There is no story about any U.S. person, none at all, nor about any important NATO politician. The highest political “casualty” so far isthe irrelevant Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson who, together with his wife, owned one of the shell companies. There is no evidence that the ownership or the money held by that company were illegal.
So where is the beef?
As former UK ambassador Craig Murray writes, the beef (if there is any at all) is in what is hidden by the organizations that manage the “leak”:
The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”
What do you expect? 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
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is part of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) which is financed by the U.S. government through USAID.
The “leak” is of data selected by U.S. friendly organization out of a database, likely obtained by U.S. secret services, which can be assumed to include much dirt about “western” persons and organizations.
To only publish very selected data from the “leaked” data has two purposes:
- It smears various “enemies of the empire” even if only by association like the presidents Putin and Assad.
- It lets other important people, those mentioned in the database but not yet published about, know that the U.S. or its “media partner” can, at any time, expose their dirty laundry to the public. It is thereby a perfect blackmailing instrument.
The engineered “leak” of the “Panama Papers” is a limited hangout designed to incriminate a few people and organization the U.S. dislikes. It is also a demonstration of the “torture tools” to the people who did business with Mossak Fonseca but have not (yet) been published about. They are now in the hands of those who control the database. They will have to do as demanded or else …
Comment: While the media focuses on Putin, it’s actually the UK that allegedly has the most links to off-shore tax havens. More than half of the300,000 firms listed are registered in British-administered tax havens (Hong Kong tops the list). This is followed by Switzerland, the U.S., Panama, Guatemala, Luxembourg… Where’s Russia?
In another startling revelation, the leak shows how the £26 million stolen in the notorious 1983 gold bullion heist at the Brink’s-MAT depot near Heathrow may have been channeled through an offshore company set up by Mossack Fonesca.
Of the British officials implicated in the leak, only three have so far been named: Baroness and life peer Pamela Sharples, former Conservative Party donor and ADT security billionaire Michael Ashcroft, and former Tory MP for East Hampshire Michael Mates.
Here’s the Corbett Report’s take on the Panama Papers so far: