Archive for the ‘Panama Papers’ Category

Failing to Ask Panama for Mossack Fonseca Documents “inexplicable?”

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Panama Papers are available. Why hasn’t U.S. asked to see them? by Marisa Taylor and Kevin G. Hall.

From the post:

…as of June 23, Panama said it had not received a single request from the United States for access to the data seized by Panamanian authorities from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers, said Sandra Sotillo, spokeswoman for Panamanian Attorney General Kenia Porcell.

A great account of the where’s and wherefore’s of the US failure to request the seized documents that closes with this quote:

Roma Theus, another former federal prosecutor, was surprised it had taken so long to ask for the data.

“It’s not three-months difficult,” he said of the process.

He also wondered why European countries, such as Germany or England, haven’t requested the data.

“It’s a very legitimate question why they haven’t, given the enormous amount of data that’s available on potential corruption and other crimes,” Theus said. “It’s inexplicable.”

Considering the wealth and power of those who use offshore accounts to hide their funds, do you find the failure of the U.S., Germany, and England to request the data “inexplicable?”

I don’t.

Corrupt but not “inexplicable.”

After you read this story, be sure to read the others listed under The Secret Shell Game.

“Panama” Papers As Mis-Direction

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Panama Papers May Inspire More Big Leaks, if Not Reform by Scott Shane.

Gabriel Zucman (Berkeley economist) spots the mis-direction inherent in the “Panama Papers” moniker.

In fact, some experts believe the “Panama” label is misleading, obscuring the central role of several states, including Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada, in registering companies with hidden ownership. Mossack Fonseca probably represents just 5 or 10 percent of the industry creating anonymous companies, said Mr. Zucman of Berkeley, so the disclosures have left the vast majority hidden.

And no matter where shell companies may be registered, he said, much of the wealth they own is invested in the United States, in real estate, stocks and bonds. “The U.S. could find out who the true owners are,” Mr. Zucman said.

But the United States may illustrate the difficulty of moving from splashy revelations to serious change. States with a stake in the lucrative corporate registration business are likely to resist serious changes, and Congress appears unlikely to act anytime soon on comprehensive reform bills.

For all of the hooting about the “Panama Papers” consisting of 11.5 million documents, weighing in at 2.6 terabytes, a moment’s consideration carries the sobering realization, this is from a single law firm.

If you consider all the documents held by corporate law firms in the states mentioned by Zucman, plus a few others: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Nevada, New York, Wyoming, the amount of data may exceed multiple zettabytes.

Shane generously remarks: “…and Congress appears unlikely to act anytime soon on comprehensive reform bills.

Unlikely? Unlikely?

I assume you agree that the laws that enable the hiding of wealth are not accidental.

Don’t be distracted by reform side-shows, presented by the people responsible for the problem.

Let’s go big-leak hunting.


Panama Papers Import Scripts for Neo4j and Docker

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Panama Papers Import Scripts for Neo4j and Docker by Michael Hunger.

Michael’s import scripts enable you too to explore and visualize, a sub-set of the Panama Papers data.

Thanks Michael!

Panama Papers Database Warning: You Will Be Tracked

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

As promised, a teaser database of 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, has been released by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

I say “teaser” because of the information you won’t find in the database:

The new data that ICIJ is now making public represents a fraction of the Panama Papers, a trove of more than 11.5 million leaked files from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s top creators of hard-to-trace companies, trusts and foundations.

ICIJ is not publishing the totality of the leak, and it is not disclosing raw documents or personal information en masse. The database contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdictions, but it doesn’t disclose bank accounts, email exchanges and financial transactions contained in the documents.

In all, the interactive application reveals more than 360,000 names of people and companies behind secret offshore structures. As the data are from leaked sources and not a standardized registry, there may be some duplication of names.

Warning: Even visits to the database are being logged, as shown by this initial greeting:


How deep the tracking is post-entry to the site isn’t readily evident.

I would assume all searches are logged along with the IP address of origin.

Use Tor if you plan to visit this resource.

A couple of positive comments about the database:

First, you can download the database as CSV files, a file for each type of node and the other for edges (think relationships). A release of the Neo4j data files is forthcoming.

Second, the ICIJ gets the licensing right:

The ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database is licensed under the Open Database License and its contents under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Always cite the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists when using this data.

Be forewarned that a lot of loose headlines will be appearing about this release, such as: The Panama Papers can now be searched online. Hardly, see the ICIJ’s own statement of exclusions above. It’s always better to read a post before commenting on it.

I don’t now nor have I ever disagreed with the statement “the > 370 reporters and the ICIJ have done a great job of reporting on the Panama Papers.”

I do disagree with the refusal of the ICIJ to release the leak contents to law enforcement under the guise of protecting the leaker and its plans to never release the full leak to the public.

As I have said before, some period of exclusive access is understandable given the investment of ICIJ in the leak but only for a reasonable period of time.

Hoarding of Panama Papers Weakens – Prosecutors, Maybe …

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come

From the post:

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities.

In a statement issued to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the so-called “John Doe” behind the biggest information leak in history cites the need for better whistleblower protection and has hinted at even more revelations to come.

Titled “The Revolution Will Be Digitized” the 1800-word statement gives justification for the leak, saying that “income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time” and says that government authorities need to do more to address it.

Süddeutsche Zeitung has authenticated that the statement came from the Panama Papers source. The statement in full:

As I pointed out in Panama Papers – Shake That Money Maker and $230 Billion Impact of Partial Use of Panama Papers, doing more than profiting Süddeutsche Zeitung and others requires releasing the Panama Papers to legal authorities.

My suggestion did not influence the relaxing of the hoarding of the Panama Papers but I welcome the move.

The full statement of “John Doe” throws Süddeutsche Zeitung a bone and says they have rightly refused to release the leak to authorities.

I’m sure you are as curious as I am about that statement.

BTW, if and when the Panama Papers are leaked to one or more governments, be on guard for fake Panama Papers which are infectious, etc. Possibly even those leaked by governments.

Leaks can always have malicious content but purported high visibility leaks perhaps more than others.

$230 Billion Impact of Partial Use of Panama Papers

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

The Value of Offshore Secrets – Evidence from the Panama Papers by James O’Donovan, Hannes F. Wagner, Stefan Zeume.

O’Donovan and colleagues find the keyhole view of the Panama Papers has erased $230 Billion in market capitalization among the firms exposed by those papers.

Imagine the impact if:

  • The Panama Papers were released to prosecutors charged with enforcing laws violated by the named firms and people.
  • Thousands of people, not < 400, were combining the Panama Papers with data on the named firms and individuals.

Until there is a full release, or a secondary leak, of the Panama Papers, we may never know.


We use the data leak of the Panama Papers on April 3, 2016 to study whether and how the use of offshore vehicles affects valuation around the world. The data leak made transparent the operations of more than 214,000 shell companies incorporated in tax havens by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The Panama Papers implicate a wide range of firms, politicians, and other individuals around the globe to have used secret offshore vehicles. Allegations include tax evasion, financing corruption, money laundering, violation of sanctions, and hiding other activities. We find that, around the world, the data leak erased an unprecedented risk-adjusted US$230 billion in market capitalization among 1,105 firms with exposure to the revelations of the Panama Papers. Firms with subsidiaries in Panama, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, or the Seychelles – representing 90% of the tax havens used by Mossack Fonseca – experienced an average drop in firm value of 0.5%-0.6% around the data leak. We also find that firms operating in perceivably corrupt countries – particularly in those where high-ranked government officials were implicated by name in the leaked data – suffered a similar decline in firm value. Further, firms operating both in Mossack Fonseca’s primary tax havens and in countries with implicated politicians experienced the largest negative abnormal returns. For instance, firms linked to Mossack Fonseca’s tax havens and operating in Iceland experienced negative abnormal returns of -1.4%; the data leak revealed that Iceland’s Prime Minister failed to disclose beneficial interest in a British Virgin Islands incorporated shell company. Overall, our estimates suggest that investors perceive the leak to destroy some of the value generated from offshore activity.

Want your leak hoarded for personal gain?

I think you know the lesson the Panama Papers teaches.

MATISSE – Solar System Exploration

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

MATISSE: A novel tool to access, visualize and analyse data from planetary exploration missions by Angelo Zinzi, Maria Teresa Capria, Ernesto Palomba, Paolo Giommi, Lucio Angelo Antonelli.


The increasing number and complexity of planetary exploration space missions require new tools to access, visualize and analyse data to improve their scientific return.

ASI Science Data Center (ASDC) addresses this request with the web-tool MATISSE (Multi-purpose Advanced Tool for the Instruments of the Solar System Exploration), allowing the visualization of single observation or real-time computed high-order products, directly projected on the three-dimensional model of the selected target body.

Using MATISSE it will be no longer needed to download huge quantity of data or to write down a specific code for every instrument analysed, greatly encouraging studies based on joint analysis of different datasets.

In addition the extremely high-resolution output, to be used offline with a Python-based free software, together with the files to be read with specific GIS software, makes it a valuable tool to further process the data at the best spatial accuracy available.

MATISSE modular structure permits addition of new missions or tasks and, thanks to dedicated future developments, it would be possible to make it compliant to the Planetary Virtual Observatory standards currently under definition. In this context the recent development of an interface to the NASA ODE REST API by which it is possible to access to public repositories is set.

Continuing a long tradition of making big data and tools for processing big data freely available online (hint, hint, Panama Papers hoarders), this paper describes MATISSE (Multi-purpose Advanced Tool for the Instruments for the Solar System Exploration), which you can find online at:

Data currently available:

MATISSE currently ingests both public and proprietary data from 4 missions (ESA Rosetta, NASA Dawn, Chinese Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2), 4 targets (4 Vesta, 21 Lutetia, 67P ChuryumovGerasimenko, the Moon) and 6 instruments (GIADA, OSIRIS, VIRTIS-M, all onboard Rosetta, VIR onboard Dawn, elemental abundance maps from Gamma Ray Spectrometer, Digital Elevation Models by Laser Altimeter and Digital Ortophoto by CCD Camera from Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2).

If those names don’t sound familiar (links to mission pages):

4 Vesta – asteriod (NASA)

21 Lutetia – asteroid (ESA)

67P ChuryumovGerasimenko – comet (ESA)

the Moon – As in “our” moon.

You can do professional level research on extra-worldly data, but with worldly data (Panama Papers), not so much. Don’t be deceived by the forthcoming May 9th dribble of corporate data from the Panama Papers. Without the details contained in the documents, it’s little more than a suspect’s list.

Panama Papers – Shake That Money Maker

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

ICIJ to Release Panama Papers Offshore Companies Data by Marina Walker Guevara.

From the post:

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will release on May 9 a searchable database with information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers investigation.

While the database opens up a world that has never been revealed on such a massive scale, the application will not be a “data dump” of the original documents – it will be a careful release of basic corporate information .

ICIJ won’t release personal data en masse; the database will not include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers. The selected and limited information is being published in the public interest.

Meanwhile ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung which received the leak, and other global media partners, including several new outlets in countries where ICIJ has not been able to report, will continue to investigate and publish stories in the weeks and months to come. (emphasis added)

A teaser from ICIJ.

ICIJ is shaking the Panama Papers as a money maker.

Here a video depiction:

I don’t object to ICIJ and its 400 or so blessed journalists making money from the Panama Papers.

A lot of money has been invested in making the data dump useful and profits here will support more investigations in the future.

Admitting profit is driving the concealment of the Panama Papers enables a rational discussion on releasing the data dump.

For example, when law enforcement authorities request copies of data relevant to their jurisdictions, they should have to pay for the research to segregate and package those files, along with agreements to not post publicly post them for some set time.

In terms of public access, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ)/ICIJ has had these documents for more than a year. Two years from the first publication, how much low-lying fruit could be left? Especially given the need to re-process the raw data to explore it.

Reasonable profits are necessary and just, hoarding (think monopoly/anti-trust) and avoiding accountability are not.