Panama Papers Show How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad

Eric Lipton and Julie Creswell, Panama Papers Show How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad. The New York Times, 5 June 2016. Financial transactions “for a stable of wealthy clients from the United States are outlined in extraordinary detail in the trove of internal Mossack Fonseca documents known as the Panama Papers. The materials were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and have now been shared with The New York Times. In recent weeks, the papers’ revelations about Mossack Fonseca’s international clientele have shaken the financial world. The Times’s examination of the files found that Mossack Fonseca also had at least 2,400 United States-based clients over the past decade, and set up at least 2,800 companies on their behalf in the British Virgin Islands, Panama, the Seychelles and other jurisdictions that specialize in helping hide wealth…. For many of its American clients, Mossack Fonseca offered a how-to guide of sorts on skirting or evading United States tax and financial disclosure laws.”

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The Bank Robber: The computer technician who exposed a Swiss bank’s darkest secrets

Patrick Radden Keefe, The Bank Robber: The computer technician who exposed a Swiss bank’s darkest secrets. The New Yorker, 30 May 2016. “A few days before Christmas in 2008, Hervé Falciani was in a meeting at his office, in Geneva, when a team of police officers arrived to arrest him. Falciani, who was thirty-six, worked for H.S.B.C., then the largest bank in the world. He was on the staff of the company’s private Swiss bank, which serves clients who are wealthy enough to afford the minimum deposit—half a million dollars—required to open an account…. As the Swiss police escorted him from the building, he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.”

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The Panama Papers: Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Bastian Obermayer, Gerard Ryle, Marina Walker Guevara, Michael Hudson, Jake Bernstein, Will Fitzgibbon, Mar Cabra, Martha M. Hamilton, Frederik Obermaier, Ryan Chittum, Emilia Diaz-Struck, Rigoberto Carvajal, Cécile Schilis-Gallego, Marcos Garcia Rey, Delphine Reuter, Matthew Caruana Galizia, Hamish Boland-Rudder, Miguel Fiandor and Mago Torres, Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and CorruptionThe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 3 April 2016. “Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens. In this story: Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world. Current and former world leaders in the data include the prime minister of Iceland, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia. More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens.”

About this project.

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‘Redlining’ Home Loan Discrimination Re-emerges as a Concern for Regulators

Rachel L. Swarns, ‘Redlining’ Home Loan Discrimination Re-emerges as a Concern for Regulators. The New York Times, 30 October 2015. “In 2014, Hudson [City Savings Bank] approved 1,886 mortgages in the market that includes New Jersey and sections of New York and Connecticut, federal mortgage data show. Only 25 of those loans went to black borrowers.”

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Swiss Leaks: Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers

Gerard Ryle, Will Fitzgibbon, Mar Cabra, Rigoberto Carvajal, Marina Walker Guevara, Martha M. Hamilton and Tom Stites, Swiss Leaks: Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 8 February 2015. “HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) continued to offer services to clients who had been unfavorably named by the United Nations, in court documents and in media as connected to arms trafficking, blood diamonds and bribery. HSBC served those close to discredited regimes such as that of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian president Ben Ali and current [2015] Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad…. The bank repeatedly reassured clients that it would not disclose details of accounts to national authorities, even if evidence suggested that the accounts were undeclared to tax authorities in the client’s home country. Bank employees also discussed with clients a range of measures that would ultimately allow clients to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. This included holding accounts in the name of offshore companies to avoid the European Savings Directive, a 2005 Europe-wide rule aimed at tackling tax evasion through the exchange of bank information.”

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The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare, Alayne Fleischmann

Matt Taibbi, The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare. Rolling Stone, 6 Novmeber 2014. “Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking. Chase whistle-blower Alayne Fleischmann risked it all.”

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Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra and a Culture Clash

Jake Bernstein, Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash. ProPublica, 26 September 2014. “A confidential report and a fired examiner’s hidden recorder penetrate the cloistered world of Wall Street’s top regulator–and its history of deference to banks.” This story was co-published with This American Life, from WBEZ Chicago: “536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra,” 26 September 2014. Listen to the radio version here. And read the transcript of the radio version here.

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Hidden in Plain Sight: New York Just Another Island Haven for Money Laundering into Real Estate

Michael Hudson, Ionut Stanescu and Samuel Adler-Bell, Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze: Hidden in Plain Sight: New York Just Another Island Haven. International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 3 July 2014. “Lax U.S. rules and real estate industry’s no-questions-asked approach make it easy for dodgy characters to funnel wealth through high-end Manhattan apartments…. Government officials and their families and associates in ChinaAzerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts. The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.” Winner of the 2014 George Polk Award for Business Reporting.

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The Case for Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations. The Atlantic, 21 May 2014. “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

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Wells Fargo’s pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost

E. Scott Reckard, Wells Fargo’s pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost. Los Angeles Times, 21 December 2013. “Wells Fargo & Co. is the nation’s leader in selling add-on services to its customers. The giant San Francisco bank brags in earnings reports of its prowess in “cross-selling” financial products such as checking and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages and wealth management. In addition to generating fees and profits, those services keep customers tied to the bank and less likely to jump to competitors. But that success has come at a cost. The relentless pressure to sell has battered employee morale and led to ethical breaches, customer complaints and labor lawsuits, a [Los Angeles] Times investigation has found.”

Related:

James Rufus Koren, Wells Fargo to pay $185 million settlement for ‘outrageous’ sales culture. Los Angeles Times, 8 September 2016. “Calling it “outrageous” and “a major breach of trust,” local and federal regulators hammered Wells Fargo & Co. for a pervasive culture of aggressive sales goals that pushed thousands of workers to open as many as 2 million accounts that bank customers never wanted. Those practices, first uncovered by the Los Angeles Times in 2013, led to a massive $185-million settlement package announced Thursday [8 September  2016].

Pete Vernon, Q&A: Former LA Times reporter on story that led to $185 million Wells Fargo fine. Columbia Journalism Review, 12 September 2016.

Adam Davidson, How Regulation Failed With Wells Fargo. The New Yorker, 12 September 2016.

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