Attestation Update – A&A for CPAs

Technical stuff for CPAs providing attestation services

Update on Panama Papers – 6/1

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Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Seems there was a lull in the interesting articles on Panama Papers. Here are few articles catching my eye to get caught up.

  • How to prepare for a media firestorm
  • Searchable database released
  • A mere 35 Americans are visible in the Panama Papers database

5/9 – Nelson Granados at Forbes – Are You Law-Abiding and in the Panama Papers Database? How to Handle a Public Relations Crisis – Article is written on how a company who is legally and ethically using offshore accounts can prepare for the negative media attention when their name is revealed.

As a general concept these ideas apply to every business and charity. Getting ready in advance of a media firestorm will improve your chances of surviving the onslaught.

Short version:

Planning

Figure out various scenarios and how you will respond.

Consistent transparency

Have senior-level staff briefed on the plan. Appoint specific people to respond to public inquiries

Vigilance

Pay attention to what’s going on in media. Watch carefully for something that unexpectedly goes viral and be ready to respond quickly.

Critical comments to remember anytime you do with the media:

Nothing is ever, ever off the record

The friendly reporter is not your friend

Have an agenda, the reporter has his/hers

A word to the wise – This is the opportunity to learn from the pressure hitting those who legitimately use offshore accounts. Sort through how you would deal with media attention of this magnitude hitting your business or charity.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a database of 320,000 offshore entities which are in the Panama Papers files. This is a searchable database. In fact you can even download it.

Something interesting in the initial coverage is that media in different countries are focusing on the people and leaders in their country. Thus the reporting depth will be quite deep.

A few of the more interesting articles which appeared immediately after the release

5/9 – Miami Herald – Americans with legal troubles used Panama law firm – After a quick scan of the database, one news outlet was able to find a whopping 35 Americans with offshore accounts who had either civil or criminal legal issues while holding the accounts.

Article says the law firm involved, Mossack Fonseca, set up 100,000 offshore entities in a decade from 2005 through 2015. For a 250 day work year, that would be 40 entities per day. Doesn’t seem to me that would be an overwhelming workload.

Most entertaining comment in the article is attributed to an interview by the Associated Press with the firm’s founder. The founder is quoted as saying

“as a policy we prefer not to have American clients.”

Given the attention that can fall on your head from the FBI or SEC, that certainly makes sense. That would also explain why so very few Americans are visible in the client base of this particular firm. My guess is there are other firms who like working with Americans. Data from those other firms has not been dumped. Yet.

Written by Jim Ulvog

June 1, 2016, 6:30 am at 6:30 am

Posted in Fraud, Other stuff

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