The International Consortium of Journalists today released publicly some 36,000 documents – known as the Panama Papers – that offer a glimpse into the vast, secret network of offshore tax havens that are used to not only perpetrate racketeering, fraud, and financial crime but is also used by more than 140 politicians in over 50 countries to secretly funnel money, accept/distribute bribes, and hide embezzled funds from international watchdog groups. This network is used to perpetrate horrifying crimes around the world – from the Assad regime’s purchasing of fuel from Daesh (which it then uses to bomb hospitals and markets) to the laundering of the profits of child sex slavery.
More than 36 Americans have been exposed so far for using offshore companies, purchased through the now notorious company of Mossack Fonseca, to hide a wide variety of financial crimes. Though a small window into the conspiracies of American criminals, each case represents a much larger piece of the puzzle of the millions of dollars that are being extorted from people around the world and funneled away.
LEONARD GOTSHALK, a former tackle for the Atlanta Falcons, purchased a company called Irishmyst Consultants in the British Virgin Islands for $3,055 – three days after he was charged by federal prosecutors for scheming to use kickbacks and other shady dealings to inflate the prices of tech company stocks.
MARTIN FRANKEL fled the United States in 1999 with nine passports and 567 diamonds after embezzling more than $200 million from insurance companies across the nation, and committing wire fraud, securities fraud, and racketeering. He was a long-time customer at Mossack Fonseca and held multiple offshore companies.
MARY PATTEN was a Florida investment scammer who perpetrated a $6 million fraud with the help of a Mossack Fonseca-sold offshore company.
ANDREW WIEDERHORN is an Oregon corporate executive who pleaded guilty to two felonies an illegal gratuity and filing a false tax return.
Six more as-yet unnamed Americans are accused of using a Fonseca-based offshore company – Dressel Investments – to run a Ponzi scheme which ripped off poor Indonesian families of nearly a hundred million dollars.
These are just a small sample of a much bigger net that will only grow wider as the full trove of documents is analyzed. It is very curious to see whose names will show up in the documents – and it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibly if a certain presumptive Republican nominee got caught up in the scandal, given his shady past dealings.
The biggest results of the Panama Papers, of course, will be the international fallout from the truly scandalous leaks. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been found to have given $80 million dollars to the election campaign of Binyamin Netanyahu – a shocking revelation that proves not only that the Arab League’s “concern” for the plight of the Palestinian people is nothing but a useful propaganda tool but could upset the balance of power in the Middle East. If anyone chooses to take action against this network of dark money, it could have huge implications for the pursuit of peace and stability in the world.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.