Panamanian government censors leak probers


Sometimes really you don’t want to know what think you want to know, or at least you don’t want others to share in that knowledge.

That appears to be the case with the investigation the Panamanian government convened when all those secret ownership-hiding and money-laundering corporate front papers leaked.

The leaks briefly embarrassed a lot of celebrities, high level elected government officials and bureaucrats [including prime ministers and a king], banksters, corporate board members, and other assorted nabobs and lootocrats, but like most scandals these days, the public’s collective memory is about as long as Donald Trump’s.

And now Panama is aiding in the collective amnesia project.

From BBC News:

The Swiss anti-corruption expert, Mark Pieth, has told the BBC he resigned from the Panama Papers commission because of government interference.

Mr Pieth said officials told him that they would have final say on whether to publish the panel’s findings on the offshore tax evasion scandal.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, also resigned.

The seven-person panel was set up by Panama’s government in April 2016 to improve transparency.

Speaking on the BBC’s Newshour programme, Mr Pieth said he had received a letter from Panama’s authorities stating that they would have the final say on whether to publish the panel’s report.

“They told us they were going to decide in the end whether (the report) is going to be publicised or not,” he said. “I think that the official Panamanians were in a state of denial. They were basically saying ‘well, what we’ve been seeing in the Panama Papers is something that you observe everywhere in the world.’”

More from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the NGO which received and reported on the leaks:

Stiglitz and Mark Pieth, a Swiss anti-corruption expert, wrote Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela on Friday that they were pulling out of the study committee because they fear government officials will limit the panel’s freedom to investigate and keep its final report secret.

They said in the letter that government officials had declined to commit to public release of the panel’s report and instead had insisted the group’s findings would be the “property” of the government and that Panamanian authorities would have “sole responsibility” for any public announcements. Such restrictions, they said, made no sense considering that the panel was set up to investigate concerns about how offshore secrecy encourages money laundering and other misconduct.

“How can a group allegedly committed to transparency write a report that is not transparent? It would undermine our own credibility,” Stiglitz said in telephone interview Friday afternoon. “Evidently they wanted us to be part of a charade to convince people they were serious when in fact they weren’t.”

A government spokesperson issued a brief statement saying Panamanian officials regretted Stiglitz and Pieth’s exit from the panel and adding that the government “understands both resignations” are related to “internal differences” within the panel “over which it won’t intervene.”

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