The Panama Papers rabbit hole just got deeper. Former Swiss banker and whistleblower for the system that is the tax evasion industry on an international scale, Bradley Birkenfeld, has put forth a theory of who is behind the release of the documents stolen from the Panamanian Law Firm of Mossack Fonseca and why. He told CNBC:
“The CIA I’m sure is behind this, in my opinion,” Birkenfeld said.
Birkenfeld pointed to the fact that the political uproar created by the disclosures have mainly impacted countries with tense relationships with the United States. “The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, Argentina and we don’t see one U.S. name. Why is that?” Birkenfeld said. “Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation.”
Much has been made of the lack of Americans in the papers. No one has yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation for that. Ramon Fonseca, the managing partner of the law firm from which the document theft happened believes strongly that the “leak” was really an attack on privacy rights, and if Birkenfeld is right, that just might be the case.
“If you’ve got NSA and CIA spying on foreign governments they can certainly get into a law firm like this,” Birkenfeld said. “But they selectively bring the information to the public domain that doesn’t hurt the U.S. in any shape or form. That’s wrong. And there’s something seriously sinister here behind this.”
The NSA certainly has no use for privacy rights, so maybe Birkenfeld has a point.
As it happens, Bradley Birkenfeld is an American citizen who brought to light the internal workings of the Swiss banking apparatus where wealthy people had hidden their money from cash hungry governments for decades. (He was paid BIG MONEY for the info, too.) He says Mossack Fonseca is quite well known in the cat and mouse game of “hide the money” but not exactly a big fish in that sea.
“We knew that firm very well in Switzerland. I certainly knew of it,” Birkenfeld said.
But Mossack Fonseca was just one of a number of firms in Panama offering such services, he said. “The cost of doing business there was quite low, relatively speaking,” he said. “So what you would have is Panama operating as a conduit to the Swiss banks and the trust companies to set up these facilities for clients around the world.”
Which still does not definitively answer who was behind the release, but it does put an interesting twist on it. Especially since, in the larger scheme of things, the Mossack Fonseca “leak” was more or less a glancing blow on an industry that is amazingly resilient.