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The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How…

The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide… (2016)

by Bastian Obermayer, Frederik Obermaier

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Imagine reading a book about a vast conspiracy and yet only getting a taste of said conspiracy. This is essentially what is happening here. You get the story behind the Panama Papers but very little about the papers themselves. There could have been (and might still be) dozens of books out of just what is hinted at in this book. It's fascinating but it's also frustrating because the minute you get involved in one story they jump to a summary of the next. ( )
  doomjesse | Oct 7, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The Panama Papers" describe how two German journalists were approached and asked by an anonymous source if they were interested in some information/data. How could journalists say no? What unfolds throughout the rest of the book is a continuous flow of information, much of it only days old when received, that shows the shadowy world of tax havens, shell companies, and how many of the worlds criminals and "elite" are hiding and laundering their money while avoiding taxes as best they can. The revelations made here have had real world consequences seen throughout the media as hundreds of journalists simultaneously released their stories on individuals in dozens of nations. What started off as two journalists analyzing as much data as they could turned into a huge project with input from investigative journalists throughout the world, from Russia to South America, from Africa to England.

The majority of the stories found in these chapters follow a similar path. We are presented with well-known figures (whether to the world or their localized area of the world) who have made shoddy deals, taken bribes, or given bribes, and tried to hide their cash off-shore, keeping as much of it as possible. At the center of it all is Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm run by a German and a Panamanian with ties to Panama's government. Whatever due diligence they claimed for the past few decades is shown to have been overlooked on a regular basis as everyone from Jurgen Mossack himself down to lower level employees regularly avoided well-known laws and due diligence in order to keep accounts active and provided options for avoiding whatever situation account holders presented Mossack Fonseca with. The bottom line here is that if you have enough connections and money, you do not have to abide by the democratic process or the laws of your land. These men and women paid fees to Mossack Fonseca in order to avoid taxes, to avoid having their name publicized and perhaps ruined (due to their illegal or unethical actions) in their respective nation, and subverted laws that the majority of the world has to tolerate and accept on a daily basis. They have reaped rewards and benefits but have seen fit to avoid giving back to the nation and people that made those rewards and benefits possible. One can only hope that revelations made in this book spurs others to action so that laws are not just made for the "little people" to follow but for all to abide by. ( )
1 vote Kunikov | Sep 9, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An anonymous source provided over 2.5 terabytes of data to two German journalists exposing details of offshore accounts set up by the law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama. Some of the data was only days old when received. The data showed that the law firm had knowingly broken laws in setting up some of the accounts allowing many of their clients to shelter income from taxes, launder money and hide illegal income. The journalists eventually worked for over a year and with approximately 400 other journalists, each working on accounts owned by citizens of their country, to sort the documents and verify the data before publishing. All of the journalists published on the same day around the globe. Politicians, heads of state, financial leaders and criminals were found in the documents of the law firm.
I recommend this book. It was an eye opener as to how the rich, powerful and criminal element protect their assets. The amount of money sheltered in the offshore accounts is staggering. Even worse is the fact that the money in some of the accounts had been siphoned out of countries or banks and money was moved from between accounts as bribes. Every dollar illegally deposited into an offshore account is one taken out of the economy of the country and lost tax revenue. Hopefully, the wrongdoers will be brought to justice and reforms will be made to avoid illegal offshore accounts going forward. ( )
  mak1971 | Aug 18, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Hiding behind the façade of these shell companies, this book illuminates the elite’s common practice of tax evasion and the like. The biggest leak in history shows how greed rules the world. Moreover, the book expounds on the parallel universe and culture that the rich have in a deep dichotomy between the normal, working person. Journalism should look like this! Plowing through mountains of data to reveal such dealings is a huge undertaking. Definitely an important read. ( )
  jamesgwld | Aug 17, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book should change our lives. The expose of offshore finance and the 'grey economy' is appalling in its breadth and depth. An anonymous source leaked documents to two journalists from the SudDeutsche Zeitung newspaper, who in turn, raced to bring this shocking tale to print. As a consequence the narrative lacks a little finesse and can appear repetitive and mechanical, but considering the risks they took to their own personal security in bringing these crimes to the surface, it's almost pedantic to criticize a few lapses in structure. The complicity of ordinary banks in facilitating the theft of billions is meticulously documented. As our society becomes more extremely polarized between rich and poor, The Panama Papers should be a wake-up call for us all; these are our billions, and they have been stolen from us by those whose greed is difficult to comprehend. Unless, and until, we start to demand that the wealth of our nations is more equitably shared, these crimes become normalized, and we accept them as the natural order of things. How much is enough? This thought-provoking book sets out in detail how these crimes are committed, and what we can do to stop it. I salute the author, other journalists and our anonymous source for persevering and casting a harsh light on the rich and powerful. Highly recommended
I received an advance copy of The Panama Papers as a part of LT's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an impartial review. ( )
1 vote fizzypops | Aug 4, 2016 |
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Obermaier, Frederikmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer receives an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels, he then receives documents revealing how the president of Argentina has sequestered millions of dollars of state money for private use. This is just the beginning. Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche journalist Frederik Obermaier find themselves immersed in the secret world where complex networks of letterbox companies help the super-rich to hide their money. Faced with the contents of the largest data leak in history, they activate an international network of journalists to follow every possible line of inquiry. Operating in the strictest secrecy for over a year, they uncover cases involving European prime ministers and international dictators, emirs and kings, celebrities and aristocrats. The real-life thriller behind the story of the century, The Panama Papers is an intense, unputdownable account that proves, once and for all, that there exists a small elite living by a different set of rules and blows their secret world wide open."--Back cover.… (more)

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