Panama Papers,Clinton's Iran Contra CIA Saudi Money Launderers,Arms Trafickers,Stock Frauds Against America
Panama Papers: Links revealed to spies and Iran-Contra affair
Documents show ex-CIA gun-runners, contractors use offshore firms for personal gain
One day during his presidential re-election campaign in September 1996, Bill Clinton walked into a room in Westin Crown Center hotel in Kansas City. At stake was a quarter-million dollars in campaign fundraising. Clinton turned to his generous host, Farhad Azima, and led the guests in song.
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you....”
Azima, an Iranian-born American charter airline executive, had long donated to Democratic and Republican administrations. He visited the Clinton White House 10 times between October 1995 and December 1996, including private afternoon coffees with the president. Years later, as Hillary Clinton stood for election to the Senate in December 1999, Azima hosted her and 40 guests for a private dinner that raised $2,500 a head.
Azima’s Democratic fundraising activities provided an interesting twist in the career of a man who has found himself in a media storm of one of America’s major political scandals, the Iran-Contra affair, during the Republican Reagan Administration.
In the mid-1980s, senior Reagan administration officials secretly arranged to sell weapons to Iran to help free seven American hostages then use the sale proceeds to fund right-wing Nicaraguan rebels known as the Contras. On a mission to Tehran in 1985, one of Azima’s Boeing 707 cargo planes delivered 23 tons of military equipment, the New York Times reported. Azima has always claimed to know nothing about the flight or even if it happened.
“I’ve had nothing to do with Iran-Contra,” Azima told ICIJ. “I was investigated by every known agency in the US and they decided there was absolutely nothing there,” said Azima. “It was a wild goose chase. The law enforcement and regulators fell for it.”
Now, records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media partners including The Irish Times reveal new details about one of America’s most colourful political donors. The records also disclose offshore deals made by another Iran-Contra figure, the Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi.
The more than 11 million documents – which stretch from 1977 to December 2015 – show the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that specializes in building labyrinthine corporate structures that sometimes blur the line between legitimate business and the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage.
Spies’ Offshore Dealings
The documents also pull back the curtain on hundreds of details about how former CIA gun-runners and contractors use offshore companies for personal and private gain. Further, they illuminate the workings of a host of other characters who used offshore companies during or after their work as spy chiefs, secret agents or operatives for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
“You can’t exactly walk around saying that you’re a spy,” says Loch KJohnson, a professor at the University of Georgia, in explaining the cover that offshore firms offer. Johnson, a former aide to a US Senate committee’s intelligence inquiries, has spent decades studying CIA “front” companies.
The documents reveal that Mossack Fonseca’s clients included Saudi Arabia’s first intelligence chief who was named by a US Senate committee as the CIA’s “principal liaison for the entire the Middle East from the mid-1960s through 1979”, Sheikh Kamal Adham, who controlled offshore companies later involved in a US banking scandal; Colombia’s former chief of air intelligence, retired maj gen Ricardo Rubianogroot, who was a shareholder of an aviation and logistics company; and Brig Gen Emmanuel Ndahiro, doctor-turned-spy-chief to Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame.
Adham died in 1999. Ndahiro did not respond to requests for comment. Rubianogroot confirmed to ICIJ partner and Colombian investigative journalism organisation, Consejo de Redacción, that he was a small shareholder in West Tech Panama, which was created to buy an American avionics company. The company is in liquidation.
“We conduct thorough due diligence on all new and prospective clients that often exceeds in stringency the existing rules and standards to which we and others are bound,” said Mossack Fonseca in a statement. “Many of our clients come through established and reputable law firms and financial institutions across the world, including the major correspondent banks . . . If a new client/entity is not willing and/or able to provide to us the appropriate documentation indicating who they are, and (when applicable) from where their funds are derived, we will not work with that client/entity.”
Even wannabe spooks can be found.
“I’ll suggest a name like ‘World Insurance Services Limited’ or maybe ‘Universal Exports’ after the company used in the early James Bond stories but I don’t know if we’d get away with that!” wrote one financier to Mossack Fonseca in 2010 on behalf of a client creating a front company in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Universal Exports was a fictional company used by the British Secret Service in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
The files further show that Mossack Fonseca also incorporated companies named Goldfinger, SkyFall, GoldenEye, Moonraker, Spectre and Blofeldafter James Bond movie titles and villains and was asked to do the same for Octopussy. There is correspondence from a man named Austin Powers, apparently his real name and not the movie character, and Jack Bauer, whom a Mossack Fonseca employee entered into the firm’s database as a client and not the television character after the employee “met him at a pub.”
But Mossack Fonseca’s connection to espionage is more often fact, not fiction.
Men in their flying machines