- No politicians of note are in files but plenty of others
- Among them: Retirees, scammers, and tax evaders
- All find a use for secrecy of offshore companies
John "Red" Crim was found guilty in January 2008 of a scheme to defraud the IRS out of $10 million in tax revenue. He wrote a book about the offshore shell company world called From Here to Malta, and was interviewed by Fusion on Feb. 7, 2016 at a halfway house in Los Angeles. Courtesy of The Naked Truth/Fusion
WASHINGTONHT: I think both The Big Picture and ZeroHedge Mentioned McClatchy's coverage. Maybe Alphaville's Markets Live too.
The passports of at least 200 Americans show up in this week’s massive leak of secret data on secretive offshore shell companies.
Given the high-profile nature of some of the foreign names in the leaks – close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin were seen moving more than $2 billion through shell companies – many of the Americans may seem like small fish.
In four separate cases, the law firm Mossack Fonseca helped register offshore companies for Americans who are now either accused or convicted by federal prosecutors of serious financial crimes, including securities fraud and running a Ponzi scheme.
In some cases, the shell companies created through the Panamanian law firm were part of fraudulent activities. In others, it’s not clear. That’s the purpose of shell companies, after all, to shelter money or assets.
“You don’t know the unknowable,” said Daniel Reeves, a former high-level official with the Internal Revenue Service who helped establish its programs to monitor offshore shell companies. “If a company out of Malta is investing in U.S. securities and generating gains and it turns out it’s owned by a wealthy family in New York, no one is going to know except the incorporator.”
Mossack Fonseca is a leading global player in the incorporation of offshore companies across the globe. It was the subject of the largest-ever financial breach, and 11.5 million of its documents are the subject of a collaborative analysis by McClatchy and about 350 journalists under the umbrella of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. McClatchy was the only U.S. newspaper company involved.
The Americans in the Panama Papers
Determining a precise number of Americans in the data is difficult. There are at least 200 scanned individual U.S. passports. Some appear to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama. Also in the database, about 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies who list U.S. addresses. And almost 3,100 companies are tied to offshore professionals based in Miami, New York, and other parts of the United States.
Further complicating matters, some U.S. citizens enjoy dual citizenship and open accounts under foreign passports. Others appeared to be American retirees purchasing real estate in places like Costa Rica and Panama.
Among the cases McClatchy and its partners found:
▪ Robert Miracle of Bellevue, Wash., is in the files. He was indicted for a $65-million Seattle-area Ponzi scheme involving investment in Indonesian oilfields, with new investors’ money allegedly used to pay off past investors. Miracle was sentenced on May 13, 2011, to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion.
Miracle’s company was called Mcube Petroleum, and it remained an active shareholder in several offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands up until he pleaded guilty. The offshores were created by Mossack Fonseca....MORE
It's all starting to blur together.