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Panama Papers source 'John Doe' sends manifesto to explain data-release actions

The anonymous source behind the Panama Papers leake has issued a manifesto explaining his or her motives for releasing the data. "John Doe" also called for action against the corruption at the heart of income inequality.

The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung

published on its website a manifesto

written by the anonymous source of the "Panama Papers," the 11.5 million files on offshore tax havens from the law firm Mossack Fonseca released last month.

The source denied being a spy: "For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own."

"John Doe" had harsh words for what he or she called "massive, pervasive corruption" at the heart of income inequality: "one of the defining issues of our time."

In the 1,800 word statement, Doe said the "sudden acceleration" of income inequality affects everyone around the world, with politicians academics and activists "alike helpless to stop its steady growth."

Doe accused law firms, and not just the Panama firm at the heart of the revelations, of using their influence to "write and bend laws worldwide to favor the interests of criminals over a period of decades.

Police on guard at the entrance to the Mossack Fonseca office in Panama City

Police on guard at the entrance to the Mossack Fonseca office in Panama City

"Mossack Fonseca did not work in a vacuum - despite repeated fines and documented regulatory violations, it found allies and clients at major law firms in virtually every nation," wrote the leaker, whose name and gender have not been made public.

Naming names

The source of the documents said the founders of Mossack Fonseca, Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, and their "employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes," including tax evasion and more serious offenses. Doe said it could take decades for the full extent of the offenses to become known.

Doe said he or she would be "willing to cooperate with law enforcement" to prosecute wrongdoers whose activities were revealed in the papers, but remained wary as whistleblowers "have had their lives destroyed ... after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing." Instead, Doe said, whistleblowers "deserve immunity from government retribution."

In the statement, Doe called on "the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers."

In the European Union, Doe said each member state's corporate register should be freely accessible, with detailed data plainly available on ultimate beneficial owners.

The United Kingdom received praise from Doe for its domestic initiatives, but it still had "a vital role to play by ending financial secrecy on its various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide."

Doe said the US could no longer trust its 50 states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data.

"It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access," Doe wrote, adding that "reform of America's broken campaign finance system cannot wait.

"Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes," the manifesto read.

Watch video 01:21

Panama vows to fight tax evasion and corruption

Individual causes

Doe also singled out particular nations, such as New Zealand for "enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands."

The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom had been "shameless about concealing their own practices involving offshore companies." The father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron was named in the Panama Papers.

Doe also named "Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the United States Treasury" who had "just announced her resignation to work instead for HSBC."

Failures

Governments, banks, financial regulators and tax authorities have "failed," Doe said, while "judges have too often acquiesced to the arguments of the rich."

Doe also said the media had failed, with a number of organizations choosing not to report the story of the Panama Papers.

"But, most of all, the legal profession has failed," Doe wrote, adding that the collective impact of the failures was a "complete erosion of ethical standards" that is "tantamount to economic slavery." The manifesto called for a revolution that would be "digitized," suggesting that "perhaps it has already begun."

On Thursday night, the US White House announced a series of initiatives to crack down on international tax evasion: "The Panama Papers underscore the importance of the efforts the United States has taken domestically, and the efforts we have undertaken with our international partners, to address these shared challenges," a statement from the White House read.

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