Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak 797

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent.

But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink.

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. 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

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny “balancing” western country like Iceland. A superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone already with dementia.

The corporate media – the Guardian and BBC in the UK – have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6.

What if they did Mossack Fonseca database searches on the owners of all the corporate media and their companies, and all the editors and senior corporate media journalists? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on all the most senior people at the BBC? What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every donor to the Center for Public Integrity and their companies?

What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every listed company in the western stock exchanges, and on every western millionaire they could trace?

That would be much more interesting. I know Russia and China are corrupt, you don’t have to tell me that. What if you look at things that we might, here in the west, be able to rise up and do something about?

And what if you corporate lapdogs let the people see the actual data?


Hundreds of thousands of people have read this post in the 11 hours since it was published – despite it being overnight here in the UK. There are 235,918 “impressions” on twitter (as twitter calls them) and over 3,700 people have “shared” so far on Facebook, bringing scores of new readers each.

I would remind you that this blog is produced free for the public good and you are welcome to republish or re-use this article or any other material freely anywhere without requesting further permission.

797 thoughts on “Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak

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  • Karen ODonoghue

    Recent ICIJ funders include:

    Adessium Foundation: founder: George Soros- an investing heavyweight through Soros Fund Management, his family office which boasts $29 billion in assets. He also contributed $6 million to the leading super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    The Sigrid Rausing Trust: founder and chair- Sigrid Rausing- heiress to the £4.3billion Tetra Pak fortune

    Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting: CEO and founder- Emily Rauh Pulitzer- family worth of a couple billion

    The Ford Foundations: the fifth wealthiest foundation in the world at $11.2 billion

    Graeme Wood: an Australian multimillionaire and founder of

    David and Lucile Packard Foundation: assets for the foundation are over $6.3 billion

    Pew Charitable Trusts: In 2013 alone president and CEO Rebecca Rimel received $4,065,021 in compensation plus another $46,134 in compensation from related organizations.

    Waterloo Foundation: founded in 2007 by – David and Heather Stevens- they are the founding managers of Cardiff-based insurance company Admiral that make over a $100 million a year.

  • Laura Millard

    I worked in Offshore Company and Trust l formation administration management and dissolution in Jersey in the late 70s for 10 years. I used the company concerned as well as Arias Arias and Fabrega in Panama and Maples and Calder in Cayman. As for due diligence, that’s farcical. You sent a communication to the lawyer for say a Panamanian Co., basic Articles, standard amount of directors and secretary, they offered up a few co names and I picked one, they sent through standard docs establishing co plus inaugural minutes and bank mandates for whatever bank was required. They NEVER met a client directly or did checks on anyone. Unless rules have changed since then, but I doubt it. What I will say is the vast amount of money was from UK, USA, Italy and Middle East.

  • John

    You have “no doubt that Putin is ‘bent,'” as you put it. Intellectual and moral integrity would oblige at least some offering of evidence for your opinion. In its absence, your opinion is merely hot air.

      • Tom Welsh

        So, Anon1, are you saying that no head of state can be honest because their salary is insufficient? Maybe you have overlooked the fact that everything is more or less free for them: they live in state buildings, eat state meals, use state transport, etc. Which is fair enough, when their lives are almost 100% devoted to state business.

        In fact I don’t think it likely that Mr Putin has squirrelled away money in offshore accounts. It doesn’t fit in at all with what I know of him. But it is exactly the kind of thing the CIA would like Westerners – and even, if possible, Russians – to believe about him.

        • Anon1

          You believe that Putin lives off his state salary? Seriously!?

          He is estimated by Stanislav Belkovsky to be worth around $40 billion, with stakes in all the major gas firms.

          • Node

            Belkovsky has been discredited so often and so comprehensively that anyone who still references him is ignorant or disingenuous. Regarding his claims that Putin is the “richest man in the world” ……

            “The media reports, which often cite one another, ultimately tend to rely on one primary source: a November 2007 interview given by a prominent member of Moscow’s chattering classes, Stanislav Belkovsky, to the German daily Die Welt. In the interview, he claimed that Putin “controlled” 37 percent of the oil company Surgutneftegaz and 4.5 percent of natural gas monopoly Gazprom. The $40 billion estimate of Putin’s fortune was simply the 2007 market price of these stakes.


            There has never been the slightest bit of evidence that Putin actually owns stakes in Surgutneftegaz or Gazprom. The Western journalists using Belkovsky as a source either do not know who he is or print his allegations simply because they are colorful. “What game Mr. Belkovsky is playing — and on whose behalf — is unclear,” the Telegraph of London warned in a story copiously citing Belkovsky’s allegations.

            Belkovsky’s game may be mainly literary. A former computer programmer turned political consultant, he has written several books about Putin and a humorous play featuring Russian political figures. Belkovsky’s charm, easygoing style and keen sense of the absurd have made him a popular columnist. Even when he suggests that Russia has become a constitutional monarchy headed by Michael of Kent or Prince Harry, people listen to him as though he is partly serious”

          • Anon1


            I don’t believe Putin is the richest man in the world but he is certainly very rich and in a position of ultimate power within a totally corrupt state.

            If you are so deluded as to believe that Putin earns nothing other than his relatively tiny state salary and has not arranged for himself a very large slice of the pie for his retirement, carved up between him and his favoured oligarch mates, all nicely hidden away and untraceable in tax havens, then there is really no hope for you. No one in Russia would believe you, even if they support Putin. It is expected of a Russian President.

          • Node

            Anon1 : If you are so deluded as to believe that Putin …..

            I have no idea what financial arrangements Putin may or may not have made. The only opinion I expressed was that anyone who still references Belkovsky “is ignorant or disingenuous”. Would you care to address that point?

          • Habbabkuk (for fact-based, polite, rational and obsession-free posting)


            You would be well advised not to defend President Putin against the idea that he has a few shekels stashed away. After all, why should he be different from his immediate predecessor Mr Yeltsin, much criticised (including on here from time to time) for his corruption? If there is a good reason why he is different perhaps you would let us know?

            PS – what’s happened with the weekly list of Israeli “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” you proudly swore you’d be regaling us with following the departure of Mary? At the time I prophesied that you’d be flagging within a month or so.
            So what happened – are you tired, did the Mods ban your posts as being provocative or has the dubious website from which Mary and you used to lift those “lists” gone out of “business”? LOL

  • nevermind

    It was leaked to a German newspaper because Mossack and Fonseca, founded by Juergen Mossack in 1971 is German, his brother is honorary consul to Panama whilst Ramon Fonseca Mora was one of the Panamenian presidents personal advisor, talk about being connected.

    Here is a link from a ‘sourpuss’ Spiegel, which, most likely due to its gate keeper functions, was snubbed in favour of Deutsche Welt.

    A few links there you might not get from the British media. This must have disturbed Osborne’s weekend, with daddy rininging up wanting to know the Governments response….

  • nevermind

    Thanks for That snippet of insight Laura M., very interesting. leaves to say that if many more of you would come together and exchange information in a safe public sphere, this open register so much talked and harangued about, would instantly exist….
    This would force Governments around the world to act, this story is more about covering up, then revealing an unrestricted list of tax evaders who have damaged their respected public service and social systems.

    The vast sums of stale money parked in these bolt holes are the real reasons why the world economy is on its knees, money that does not work, is useless unproductive and damaging to any economy.

  • WTF?

    To further bolster your point: At this page on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists website, they list all the country leaders, other government officials, ex-officials, and their relative and associates who are implicated in the leaked documents:

    You can list these individuals by their home country. Guess what? There’s nobody from the US. Not one. Individuals from over 50 countries are named, but nobody from the United States.

    Are we really supposed to believe that in those 11.5 million files covering almost 40 years, not a single American government official, ex-official, corporate executive, or any of their friends or family members has used Mossack Fonseca? What a joke this is.

    • Stu Douglas

      Oversight? Not enough room? Typo? We just forgot them?

      Seems Biblically fishy doesn’t it?

  • John Goss

    A week ago today it was reported that Putin was going to feature strongly in western-created scandals. No wonder Luke Harding was first on the bandwagon with Mossack Fonseca papers, dragging the dwindling reputation of the Guardian even further into the mire.

    “On Monday, the Kremlin announced that an information attack on the Russian leader and his friends and family was set to be launched in several countries in the upcoming days.”

    Julia’s Zero Hedge link on the previous page suggests the leak was planned to get off-shore stolen untaxed dosh under the US umbrella. This appears to be endorsed by an observation that there are no north American fat-cats on the list. I have not had the opportunity to test out that suggestion.

  • Mike Johnson

    Uh, you forget they havent even released 1/4 of the papers yet. I have a feeling this is going to be like Wikileaks, where they release the documents slowely to allow different focuses on different regions and industries. This time , it seems to focus on FIFA and oil. They havent released Celebrity Names , western european documents, not even central amercia. So calm down, breath deep, and focus. This aint over by a LONG SHOT!

    • Andy

      You would think that a UK based paper would look in the docs for the names of UK politicians and business types. Why Russia? And Putin’s name doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the docs. Seriously, why is anyone in the UK interested in corruption in Russia? Yes, report it but it’s not headlines news.

    • DomesticExtremist

      Given what we know, I suspect it will be more like the Telegraph expenses scandal: people will get a phone call and a chance to resign/pay back what they stole, others will not – their careers will be selectively terminated with extreme prejudice.

    • Freeflight

      “It seems to focus on FIFA and oil”

      What a coincidence! So anybody still remember how the US tried to spin the tale about “The NSA helping clean up the FIFA corruption scandal!”? And focus on oil, what oil exactly? How many US oil companies are named? Not a single one, guess those US companies are just above and beyond corruption. But it’s no news that the US tries to pressure the Russian oil sector, has been doing so for the last couple of years.

      Especially that whole FIFA thing is really smelly, the US trying to “clean out it’s corruption” even tho the US has as much to do with FIFA as Bavaria Munich soccer team has to do with US Major League Baseball, nothing.

      Here’s the MSM spin on that:

  • Adrian Renton

    This is a fantastic piece of work. Daily Mail has Cameron in the frame. Daily Mail!? Do let me know if you’re trying to disseminate this for organising everything to move it forwards.

    • David Littlewood

      The Daily Mail is now anti- Cameron because of the Brexit business. Same with other papers.

  • Peter

    Who ever leaked these data bases should put the lot on the internet so we can all look through them

  • Klemperer

    What a rare, wonderfully balanced view. And now read your daily papers. It is, in most cases, just this open-minded view, this “proportionality”, that is missing from from Guardian to Times, from Dagens Nyheter to Liberation, FAZ to “Die Welt” and in hundreds of like-minded papers.
    Thank you very much, dear Craig Murray!

  • Matt Beeson

    Panama is only a small part of the murky world of offshore. Am I right in thinking these documents won’t cover the “British” offshore industry? Cayman Isles, British Virgin Isles, Jersey, City of London. Also the Swiss and Luxembourg and other European hidey holes?

    • Herbie


      The US of course has its own internal tax havens.

      South Dakota, Nevada, Delaware, Wyoming and a few others.

      I’ve come across the argument that this is primarily a hit on the company itself with the hope that US tax havens will benefit.

      In a statement the company itself has indicated that this is a hit on their business and their success in this area.. They’re thinking the same way.

      The Putin stuff is just a little bonus I suppose.

  • KamNam

    Hopefully in a few days the full list will be available for all to see. HOpe so anyway.

    • fred

      No, it won’t. If someone was to hack into your bank’s computer and take personal data about you would you think it should be published to the general public?

      Teams of journalists from 70 countries have been searching the files for over a year and if they find something interesting it then gets passed to the lawyers. If they find something illegal or something which they could show to be in the public interest to publish then they will publish but unless they are certain they won’t be facing the fanciest most expensive lawyers the rich can afford in court they will keep quiet.

      • craig Post author


        But I don’t bank offshore in Panama. I don’t think those who do deserve privacy. why do you think they do?

        • fred

          Because everyone has the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If someone is doing something illegal then make it public. If someone is a politician and they are doing something immoral then make it public. If it can be proven everyone on the files falls into one of those two categories then make it all public but I don’t believe it can and those that don’t, like all of us here, are entitled to their privacy.

        • Halima Brewer

          We all – us ordinary people – have to report our income for tax purposes. We have no privacy about that, or we risk prosecution. Why should such laws be different for the filthy rich and corporations just because they can afford (at tiny fraction of the cost) rafts of lawyers and legal, or semi-legal or downright illegal loopholes? I do not believe anyone has such a right to privacy to that extent. Especially when this wealth is from those who are in public office – they must be even MORE transparent, not less so.

      • Freeflight

        “If someone was to hack into your bank’s computer and take personal data about you would you think it should be published to the general public?”

        Meanwhile way more personal data has been openly leaked about nearly 50 million Turkish people:
        But when it’s about some fat-cats, with plenty of power and money stashed away, then “privacy” is suddenly such a big concern and the data ought to be “filtered” first, or else it might “damage” somebody.

    • John Goss

      It might be true but I don’t see the connection with this story. My own speculation would be more to do with the collapsing dollar and taking all the other mega-thieves down with them. Don’t know what they will do about BRICS Bank. In fact I think any sensible speculator would move his or her money in that direction.

      • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

        Once again I would strongly advise anyone with any sense at all not to invest their money in the BRICs economies and especially not in their currencies. Your children will not thank you if you do.

        As I have advised on several occasions (for free!) : dump rubles, reals, renminbis and rupees, buy pounds sterling, US dollars, Swiss francs and euros.

      • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

        Id course it’s a little late to dump them now – you should have listened at the time! 🙂

  • Musleh Uddin Ahmad

    Do you think Western Power would ever use this data base – to discredit themselves. The data will only be used politically and selectively, as and when needed, to manipulate opponents.

  • Fredi

    This ‘Panama leak’ reeks of psy oppery, when the front page of the BBC starts prattling on about Putin, when there’s no direct evidence against the man yet, you instinctively know there’s an agenda being played out already.

    Anyway The rich will have to be even more shrew with what they do with their money, they are learning these offshore ventures are becoming less safe for them, vast amounts of data that can be leaked with the click of a mouse has made them all more vulnerable.

    I think this kind of thing will lead to money pouring into physical tangible assets. Gold in particular could gain heavily from events like this. It has always been used in the past as a method of storing wealth anonymously, it will again,

  • Siegesmund von Ilsemann

    As a former foreign editor of one Europe’s (mis-)leading news magazines I can only feel ashamed of what our corporate media so far have done – and probably will do – with this wealth of information. It really stinks. In fact it stinks so much that I would not be surprised if someone would uncover a dirty deal: What if western intelligence supplied this material to western media under the strict obligation only to publish stuff that does not uncover how deeply “our” rich, “our” banks, “our” companies are involved in this filthy scheme?

  • Philip Baynes

    12 articles about the “Panama Papers” on the Guardian online edition – not a single one open for comments!

  • Erb

    “There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers.”

    I’d love to believe this, I’d really love to. But you have to provide evidence for your claims. There’s nothing to support this.

  • Jon Duncan

    Whoever leaked the papers still has their initial motive, whatever that is, and it would be interesting to see if that person took objection to the way the material was being handled certain organizations were (apparently) protected by the various media organisations. I think in the first instance, these organizations are likely to go for the big names – it’s inevitable really as that is where the media interest lies. i.e. people will go after Putin before they go after some little known Conservative Party donor, even though the latter probably has far more relevance to life in the UK (I’m talking from a British perspective, since I am here and the Guardian is mentioned – but feel free to apply this to any country). The question is, will the media just give up on reporting these things once the initial big-name-buzz has died down.

  • Richard Bove

    Surprised the Guardian only refer to the country’s on the west’s blacklist, and are hiding the main guilty culprits, I thought the Guardian was one of the media to be trusted I was wrong.

  • nemo

    Craig, the sudden outburst of sharing and views may be in part due to your article being used by the kremlin’s paid trolls as a proof of Mr. Putin’s innocence. I kid you not, I just saw a link to your article in some bulgarian online media comments sections, posted in that exact context. With all due respect, this is not entirely usual, as you’re not that well known in our parts of the world.

    tldr; they are believing you to be one of those “useful idiots”, such a shame really, as I’ve followed you for more than two years, and I can attest that you are anything but that.

    • fred

      The Bhutos and the Sharifs are saying the database is faked, a conspiracy.

      I would expect there are plenty who will believe them, the ground has been laid for such claims.

    • MJ

      “Craig, the sudden outburst of sharing and views may be in part due to your article being used by the kremlin’s paid trolls as a proof of Mr. Putin’s innocence”

      Putin’s name doesn’t appear in any of the leaked documents.

        • bevin

          Since you categorise those of us who make the point that The Guardian’s coverage is misleading and propagandistic, as paid trolls of The Kremlin (that Moscow gold again), it is probably reasonable to assume that you are a paid troll of western intelligence.
          Do you find this method of analysing facts, by ignoring them and attacking the motives of those who differ from you to be profitable?

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