Panama Papers II


Blog No. 87.


Stop Press: Ten minutes before this was scheduled to be posted, I heard  on the news that the hacker responsible for the release of the Panama Papers  had revealed his identity and issued a statement in which he mentioned NZ’s Prime Minister, John Key specifically. I then found on the web this report issued  two hours previously.

Clearly a major supposition in the following blog has been disproved – on the surface, this no longer looks like a hack conducted by  a government agency.  I still wonder why the Suddeutsche Zeitung was chosen as the vehicle for the leak.

The offshore system in general. Prompted by the release of the Panama Papers, in my previous blog I gave two practical illustrations of how benefit can be derived from the existing global system of offshore banking facilities. Glenn Greenwald in a recent article gave an excellent overview of the system. I quote:

Proving that certain behavior is “legal” does not prove that it is ethical or just. That’s because corrupted political systems, by definition, often protect and legalize exactly the behavior that is most unjust.

Greenwald goes onto ask how it could be that the continued existence of this overt system of tax-evasion/avoidance (and covert enabler of multiple criminal activities) is so readily tolerated by the major powers. His answer is that it suits the legislators to allow it to continue as they are a class that either benefits, or aspires to benefit from it.

In the party system of most democratic countries, wealthy individuals and corporations from outside the government, provide the political parties with the wherewithal that enables them to pay for their electoral campaigns. Many of these are beneficiaries of the offshore system, who would not welcome action by their political protégées to curtail their freedom of financial manoeuvre. So too are many of the politicians in a sympathetic position themselves – by far the majority of them belong to the higher echelons of their societies’ wealth distribution and thereby, in contrast to the multitude of their constituents, able to consider a place at the offshore trough.

Just in little, uncorrupted New Zealand over 70 of its 121 MPs own two or more properties.

In the US, the net worth of the average Congressman is in excess of $1 million and of senators it is $2.8 million. – as against the average American household that sits just above $50,000

Politician wealthAs Greenwald puts it “If Panama or the Cayman Islands were acting to undermine the integrity of the global pharmaceutical patent system, the United States would stop them. But the political elite of powerful Western nations have not acted to stop relatively puny Caribbean nations from undermining the integrity of the global tax system — largely because Western economic elites don’t want them to. …”

The Panama Papers in particular. The release of the papers was claimed to be the work of an anonymous and philanthropic hacker. This person of noble intent, chose to expose to the world the workings of the dastardly system and a cross section of those manipulating it to their advantage, by dumping the lot on the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Who hacked Mossack Fonseca. Fonseca denies an inside job and claims it was hacked from ‘overseas.’ Evidently, the information, which would have given a criminal a hay-day of blackmail opportunities, was simply given to the Süddeutsche Zeitung anonymously and with no request for any form of reward. One has to assume that the reward sought would be in the actions the newspaper would subsequently take.

The main victim of the subsequent publicity, turned out to be Vladimir Putin, though neither his name, nor that of any of his ministers was mentioned in the Papers. Another notable victim, the only one to lose his job as a result, was the Prime Minister of Iceland. Who, we have to ask, doesn’t like Putin and, who might have a had a grudge against (or wish to pull back into line) tiny little Iceland?

Süddeutsche Zeitung’s place in the world. The SZ, as it is known, was the first German language newspaper to be given a license by the US forces occupying Munich at the end of World War II. It has a wide distribution throughout southern Germany and a reasonable circulation for its international edition. If anything, it is generally viewed as being slightly left of centre in its political outlook.

The International coalition of Investigative Journalists. On receipt of the hacked documents about a year ago, the SZ, rather than opt to extract a direct benefit from the multiple scoops that had been handed to it on a plate,  decided to hand the documents en bloc for editing and release to an organisation called the ‘International Coalition of Investigative Journalists.’ (ICIJ) After a year of working on the Papers, the ICIJ released to the world press the first round of its sensational findings. They claim there are many other revelations that will follow. One therefore has reason to hope that the ICIJ will yet rectify the balance after their first release, in which Russia took the main flak and quite remarkably, not a single American citizen was fingered.

The coordination centre for the ICIJ is in Washington DC. It is funded through ‘charitable donations.’ It website lists a variety of such donors – very few of which, among them, the Ford Foundation, I recognise. “Recent ICIJ funders include: Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Fritt Ord Foundation, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Ford Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts and Waterloo Foundation.” All, no-doubt, have immaculate philanthropic pedigrees.

Ever since having heard Udo Ulfkotte’s story, I have been suspicious of any investigative journalism emanating from Washington. Having subsequently been spectacularly bamboozled by a CIA plant in a German agency for investigative journalism, ‘Correct!v,’ who had written a demonstrably false claim about the Russian Army’s downing of MH-17, I have become even less inclined to take the truths presented to the public by such as ICIJ, as gospel. The vast majority of the global network of journalists set to work by the ICIJ on the Panama Papers, will be honest and even idealistic people doing their best to bring the unsavoury truth into public view. However, planted among them will be those, whom Udo Ulfkotte warned the world about, deliberately distorting the truth to serve the end of the CIA’s vision of global empire.

Not satisfied with the anodyne list of its supporters given in the ICIJ’s website, I came across an article by Christopher Black, an international lawyer resident in Canada. Black often presents the alternative view on international reality. Disputing ICIJ’s impartiality credentials, Black writes:

“ The key is found in the list of the members of the Advisory Board, the Board of Directors and the funders of its parent organisation, the Centre For Public Integrity (CFPI). The ICIJ states on its website that is a non-profit organisation. That technically may be true but they failed to add that they act for the profit of the people who fund them and who control their operations.”

cpiIf you go to the CFPI’s website you come up with the list of the CFPI’s funders and advisors. These, we are assured, are separated by a firewall from the journalistic activities of the ICIJ. Personally, I find it hard to believe that any firewall would be totally proof against the amazing accumulation of wealth stacked up against the CFPI side of the fence. Black goes on to give much more detail about the individual names appearing on the CFPI’s list.

Funders of the CFPI include the Democracy Fund, the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Foundations of George Soros, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund and many others of the same pedigree. Individual donors include such people as Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve and many others of the powerful US corporate and financial elite.

Its Advisory Board includes Geoffrey Cowan, who was appointed Director of Voice of America by President Clinton in 1994 and was in 1994-96 associate director of the United States Information Agency. He is now president of the Annenberg Foundation which has hosted US presidents at its retreat in California, dubbed Camp David West, including President Obama. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations which is the American think tank whose membership includes several former heads of the CIA, several US Secretaries of State, and connected media figures and which has the role of promoting globalisation, free trade and other economic and foreign policies for the benefit of the rich and powerful in America.

The Advisory Board also includes Hodding Carter III, former assistant secretary of state under President Carter and later a journalist for major western media such as BBC, ABC, CBC, CNN, NBC, PBS Wall Street Journal, and now President of the Knight Foundation. There is Edith Everett, President of Gruntal and Company, one of the oldest and biggest investment banks in New York City, Hebert Hafif, connected establishment lawyer, Kathleen Hill Jamieson, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, an expert on the use of the media for political purposes including how to influence political campaigns and elections, and Sonia Jarvis, a lawyer who once worked with President Clinton,


It includes Harold Hongji Koh who was a legal adviser at the US Department of State from 2009 to 2013, nominated by President Obama, who in March 2010 gave a speech supporting the legality of drone assassinations. There is Charles Ogletree, Harvard law professor and a close friend of President Obama, Allen Pusey, publisher and editor of the American Bar Association Journal, Ben Sherwood, co-chair of Disney Media, former president of ABC News and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Paul Volcker not only is an individual financial supporter but is also on the Board. Aside from his position as a former chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987) he was also chair of the US Economic Advisory Board, appointed by President Obama (2009-2011) a former chair of the Trilateral Commission, worked for the Chase Manhattan Bank and is very close to the Rockefeller family.

It includes Harold Williams, former Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (1977-1981) and member of board of directors of dozens of companies, William Julius Wilson, professor of sociology at Harvard and, last but not least, Christiane Amanpour, chief war propagandist for CNN, who just a few days ago appeared on CNN acting out a charade in which she interviewed a staffer from the ICIJ about the Panama Papers while pretending not to know anything about them. She was in fact interviewing a member of her own organisation but she never informed her viewers of this. For some reason her name does not appear on the CFPI website but her name does appear in the organisation’s latest annual report for 2014-15.

The Board of Directors includes Peter Beale a former head of, a former Reuters agent, editor at the London Times, and Microsoft editorial director, as well as Arianna Huffington, president of Post Media, and Bill Kovach, journalist for the New York Times, to name just a few of the establishment figures listed.

The point is made. This is not some independent, muckraking group dedicated to truth and democracy. This is a group of propagandists who, under the cloak of journalism, carry out the art of deception on behalf of the American government and secret services. Indeed in the annual report, they even quote President Obama approving their work. In January this same group launched an attack on the government of China with another story of “leaked” financial documents implicating the Chinese leadership and have done it again in this new story, no doubt part of the “pivot to China.”

Despite Black’s general condemnation, by no means all of the names named will be crooks and robbers, I have no doubt, there is an enormous sum of genuine philanthropy to be found among them – but there will also be those with other axes to grind.

On their website, the ICIJ invite anyone with a whistle to blow to come to them, where their revelations will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.

How could one be certain that this is not a US government sponsored front designed to trap and silence the most embarrassing whistle-blowers, before their unsavoury truths might emerge? The ICIJ’s website inveigles whistle-blowers and wannabe disseminator of truth and social justice, with honeyed promises that in letting ICIJ have access to their secrets, they would be in safe and caring hands. It is a claim deserving of caution.

We should await the next ICIJ release of the Panama Papers with interest, to see what, or rather who, will be sacrificed in order to add authenticity to the cover for the long term goals of whatever the ultimate agency behind the release of the Panama Papers. Where one can be certain that the ICIJ have kept to their word, is in protecting the identity of whoever it was that hacked Mossack Fonseca!

Here are the world leaders fingered in this recent release, which by being first will have had most impact. Note how few North American and European leaders feature. If this pattern continues in the ICIJ’s future releases, we can only draw the conclusion that the West is governed by paragons of unparalleled virtue.  Yeah, right!



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