Cover image for Secrecy world : inside the Panama papers investigation of illicit money networks and the global elite
Title:
Secrecy world : inside the Panama papers investigation of illicit money networks and the global elite
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2017.

©2017.
ISBN:
9781250126689
Physical Description:
x, 335 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
Abstract:
A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes us inside the world revealed by the Panama Papers, a landscape of illicit money, political corruption, and fraud on a global scale. A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of global finance, carrying trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises. This network masks the identities of the individuals who benefit from these activities, aided by bankers, lawyers, and auditors who get paid to look the other way. In Secrecy World, the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Jake Bernstein explores this shadow economy and how it evolved, drawing on millions of leaked documents from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca-a trove now known as the Panama Papers-as well as other journalistic and government investigations. Bernstein shows how shell companies operate, how they allow the superwealthy and celebrities to escape taxes, and how they provide cover for illicit activities on a massive scale by crime bosses and corrupt politicians across the globe. Bernstein traveled to the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and within the United States to uncover how these strands fit together-who is involved, how they operate, and the real-world impact. He recounts how Mossack Fonseca was exposed and what lies ahead for the corporations, banks, law firms, individuals, and governments that are implicated. Secrecy World offers a disturbing and sobering view of how the world really works and raises critical questions about financial and legal institutions we may once have trusted.
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Summary

Summary

A two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist takes us inside the world revealed by the Panama Papers, a landscape of illicit money, political corruption, and fraud on a global scale.

A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of global finance, carrying trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises. This network masks the identities of the individuals who benefit from these activities, aided by bankers, lawyers, and auditors who get paid to look the other way.

In Secrecy World , the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Jake Bernstein explores this shadow economy and how it evolved, drawing on millions of leaked documents from the files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca--a trove now known as the Panama Papers--as well as other journalistic and government investigations. Bernstein shows how shell companies operate, how they allow the superwealthy and celebrities to escape taxes, and how they provide cover for illicit activities on a massive scale by crime bosses and corrupt politicians across the globe.

Bernstein traveled to the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and within the United States to uncover how these strands fit together--who is involved, how they operate, and the real-world impact. He recounts how Mossack Fonseca was exposed and what lies ahead for the corporations, banks, law firms, individuals, and governments that are implicated.

Secrecy World offers a disturbing and sobering view of how the world really works and raises critical questions about financial and legal institutions we may once have trusted.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bernstein, a reporter on the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that broke the Panama Papers story, pulls back the curtain on a shadowy underworld of tax havens, offshore accounts, and shell companies in this heavily detailed yet surprisingly bloodless exposé of the illicit financial system and its 2015 collapse at the hands of anonymous leakers. Bernstein begins with the story of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the center of this web of criminal activity. He explains how the rise of the superwealthy in the 1980s and 1990s led to a new market in secrecy. By taking advantage of the services offered by such firms as Mossack Fonseca, wealthy individuals could store art, launder money, and avoid taxes with impunity-until a few rogue journalists brought the whole thing crashing down. Bernstein's revelatory source material, including interviews and secret videotapes, demonstrates the extent to which global banks such as HSBC were complicit in unlawful activities. However, the brief introduction and epilogue rush by too quickly to do justice to the complex material in the middle. Bernstein's book should be a juicy read, but its plodding pace and monotone prose turns it into a dossier. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A searching look at the tangled, deeply buried financial network exposed by the publication of the so-called Panama Papers.Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bernstein (co-author: Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency, 2006), a reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, recounts the story that the millions of documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm tell about how corporations and wealthy individuals hide their money in offshore accounts. As he notes, that firm has its origins in the Third Reich, when a former SS commando made his way to Latin America, "a beacon for former Nazis following Germany's defeat," and became an expert in maritime law. His partner in Mossack Fonseca had long roots in Panama's political class as well as a fearless embrace of a questionable clientelearms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, for one. "In Panama, moral flexibility was a professional selling point," writes Bernstein; the country has a long history of catering to an international criminal cohort in exchange for a cut of the action. Mossack Fonseca, by the author's account, went headfirst into the business of parking massive fortunes in places where they supposedly would not be detected: the Seychelles, Liechtenstein, the British Virgin Islands. As "Mossfon" grew, it expanded its markets to places like China, whose wealthy had been sheltering money in Panama and Liberia but needed a new haven with the fall of Manuel Noriega and Samuel Doe; Mossfon obliged with fake foundations, silent partnerships, and a range of other strategies, some quite illegal. As its influence grew, others came into Mossfon's orbitincluding members of Vladimir Putin's circle and, it seems, of Donald Trump's as well. Bernstein alleges that "Trump had long made a practice of consorting with dodgy characters for financial gain, so Mossfon wouldn't have been a stretch. In the months since his election, notes the author, it has been difficult to distinguish whether the administration's actions are in the public or private interest.Mossfon remains a maze worthy of a Cretan palace, but Bernstein does first-rate work in providing a map to a scandal that has yet to unfold completely. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Journalist Bernstein's book is a timely one. The recent money laundering indictment of Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, involves offshore accounts. This book explains them and is the second work to cover the titular investigation, after Bastian Obermayer's The Panama Papers. Interested readers should pair Bernstein's book with Brooke Harrington's Capital Without Borders, which studies the wealth managers who orchestrate these plans. This book discusses the findings of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in obtaining records of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which became known as the Panama Papers (and won a Pulitzer Prize). The firm was a leading provider of offshore accounts, which helped shelter legal and illegal income from creditors and taxing authorities. Bernstein describes the history of the firm and tours tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Nauru, and Delaware. The first half of the book is a series of vignettes describing how the wealthy avoided scrutiny. The other half is ICIJ's emergence as a stand-alone investigative organization. Well sourced and nontechnical, this work reads like the script to the next James Bond film. For a complete picture, the reader should visit the website icij.org. Verdict For those interested in current affairs and economics.-Harry Charles, St. Louis © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
1 Nazis and Radical Priestsp. 5
2 Tropical Paradisesp. 19
3 Name of the Gamep. 34
4 Rise of the Global Bankstersp. 47
5 How to Beat the Gamep. 61
6 Full Speedp. 75
7 The North Starp. 88
8 The Art of Secrecyp. 103
9 The Vikings Lose Their Ferrarisp. 116
10 Combing the Monsterp. 130
11 Journalistic Firepowerp. 145
12 Profitable Princelingsp. 162
13 Follow the Leaksp. 176
14 Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behindp. 191
15 Fortune Favors the Boldp. 205
16 Collaboration Triumphsp. 219
17 The Wave Breaksp. 234
18 The Secrecy World Enters the White Housep. 250
Epiloguep. 268
Notesp. 275
Acknowledgmentsp. 315
Indexp. 321