Panama Papers: Intelligence agencies including the CIA used offshore service to funnel money for operations

A leaked report in the ongoing Panama Papers scandal has revealed new sources using the law firm of Mossack Fonseca to funnel money offshore, and to provide services for ongoing off-book operations.  In an announcement made by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Panamanian firm helped facilitate accounts for several intelligence services, including the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to hide and funnel money for agents and operations.

Using shell and other holding companies is nothing new for intelligence apparatus, but today’s revelations will open new scrutiny for the CIA and other national spy services who may be using the law firm to launder money in illicit activities such as drug running and funding NGO organizations tied to terrorist groups.


Intelligence agencies from several countries, including CIA intermediaries, have abundantly used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to “conceal” their activities, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) says, citing leaked documents.

Both “secret agents and their informants have used the company’s services,”wrote the newspaper, which earlier this month published online materials based on 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm. It has been called the largest leak on corruption in journalistic history.

“Agents have set up shell companies to conceal their activities,” the Munich-based newspaper reported, adding that there are CIA mediators among them.

According to SZ, Mossack Fonseca’s clients also included some of those involved in the so-called Iran-Contra affair, in which several Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated arms sales to Iran in the 1980s in order to secure the release of US hostages and fund Nicaragua’s Contra rebels. – Russia Today

Most of the scrutiny from the Panama Paper’s disclosures have focused primarily on individuals who used Mossack Fonseca to create trusts or shell companies to move their wealth offshore.  However, because of the environment we are in today, where there are massive concerns and even divisions between the haves and have-nots, just the perception about offshore accounts and moving one’s money out of their home country is leading to protests and even resignations from elected officials despite the fact that these transactions are completely legal unless individuals choose to evade tax obligations on any profits gained from that wealth.

But the problems and perceptions regarding the offshoring of wealth pale in comparison to its potential use by covert intelligence agencies who can and do use the facilities for both legal and illegal activities, without the possibility of transparency and accountability.  And this is an area governments are extremely unlikely to investigate.

Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for,, and To the Death Media, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Wednesday afternoons giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.