News Release

Panama Papers: Some U.S. Connections Emerging

imageSome analysts have charged that the “Panama Papers” have primarily targeted official U.S. government adversaries like Russian leader Vladimir Putin — see for example, Robert Parry’s piece, “‘Corruption’ as a Propaganda Weapon.”

However, journalists working with McClatchy — the only U.S. newspaper company with access to the leaked database — are now revealing at least some notable U.S. connections.
These include Liesel Pritzker Simmons — tied to the Hyatt hotel fortune and relative of billionaire U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker — and movie and record mogul David Geffen. McClatchy also reports on how havens inside the U.S. offer “the same secrecy” as places like Panama in states like Wyoming — which has reportedly started an investigation of Mossack Fonseca, the firm tied to the Panama Papers.

KEVIN G. HALL, khall at mcclatchydc.com, @KevinGHall
MARISA TAYLOR, mtaylor at mcclatchydc.com, @marisaataylor
TIM JOHNSON, tjohnson at mcclatchydc.com, @TimJohnson4
Hall is chief economics correspondent, Taylor is investigative reporter and Johnson is a reporter for McClatchy.

McClatchy is now reporting that Liesel Pritzker Simmons “appears in the Panama Papers. She’s a former child Hollywood star and heiress to the Hyatt hotels fortune. She’s also related to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Forbes magazine estimated her net worth at $600 million in late 2013, and her wealth is combined with that of husband Ian Simmons, himself an heir to a construction and retailing fortune.

“In the Panama Papers, the two appear as shareholders of a Panamanian shell company called Blue Valley Agroinvestment. The documents suggest investment in Colombia’s palm oil sector. One of the other shareholders is John Thompson Dorrance IV, a descendant of the family that created the Campbell Soup company. …

“Hollywood music and film mogul David Geffen also appears in the documents. He’s director of a Delaware company called Barham Maritime LLC, which in 2011 sold shares of his Cayman Islands company created to hold title to his yacht called Pelorus. Shipfinder.com shows the yacht Pelorus is anchored in Miami.”

They also report in “Wyoming investigates Panama Papers law firm” that: “The Wyoming arm of the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers global scandal is under investigation by Wyoming state officials for failing to maintain required statutory information about companies registering there, Secretary of State Ed Murray said Wednesday. …

“As McClatchy reported Tuesday in a lengthy story set in Wyoming, the Cowboy State has roughly one registered company per every 4.5 residents. In response to criticism in 2006, the state began requiring that registered agents who incorporate companies keep contact information for companies. Several agents with whom McClatchy spoke said it is not their job to know who the true owners of companies are.”

See McClatchy’s initial article from Wyoming earlier this week: “U.S. scolds others about offshores, but looks other way at home.” “The U.S. government has publicly and privately pressured countries that act as offshore havens for hiding money, while this barren, sparsely populated state offers the same secrecy.”