Something fishy about offshore hacking scandal

William Engdahl
William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages. He has lectured as Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology and delivers talks and private seminars around the world on subjects of current importance from economics to oil geopolitics to agribusiness. A widely discussed analyst of current political and economic developments, his provocative articles and analyses have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines and well-known international websites. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal and member of the editorial board of Eurasia magazine. Based in Frankfurt, Germany he may be reached via his website
Something fishy about offshore hacking scandal
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists says they hold leaked secret data on offshore banking customers from 170 countries, “bigger than Wikileaks,” but how they got such information casts a huge shadow on the whole story.

The website of the Washington-based ICIJ refers to Government officials and families in “Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and elsewhere who use covert offshore companies and bank accounts. Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Clariden and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in…offshore hideaways.”

And they say they won’t turn over the files to government agencies. Among the titbits they released so far are items such as “Deutsche Bank Helped Customers Maintain Hundreds of Offshore Entities” and “Post-Soviet Billionaires Invade UK ... ” They say dozens of selected journalists have gone through “millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy. A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing the hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over. The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts…”  They omit to mention how ICIJ “obtained” such a cache.

Their selected scandals so far has hit French President Hollande, Greek billionaires or Russian oligarchs. No scandal has hit the US White House or Washington in any serious way. ICIJ’s SüddeutscheZeitung  partner writes that they will expose arms dealers, oligarchs, financial fraudsters and “hundreds of Germans…” For owning an offshore account?

The ICIJ group claims, “The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization... more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.”  

For anyone with knowledge of how tightly controlled mainstream global media is, the names of the newspapers the ICIJ chose to analyze the documents include BBC and The Guardian in the U.K., The Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Le Monde in France, Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany, The Washington Post, among others. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to use his leadership of the G8 to help crack down on tax evasion and money laundering.

Investigating the investigators…

While the mainstream world press is focusing on the leaks, it’s relevant to ask just who is this ICIJ leaker?

According to their website, the ICIJ was founded in 1997 as a project of the Center for Public Integrity “to extend the Center’s style of watchdog journalism.” Among financial donors to ICIJ are Open Society Foundations, which have been involved in many countries targeted by the US State Department for regime change or “color revolutions” including Georgia, Ukraine, Burma (Myanmar), Libya. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Hewlett Packard founder and former Assistant Defense Secretary David Packard, among others.

But the more interesting organization is the one which created ICIJ: the Center for Public Integrity, which shares the same office floor with ICIJ. Here we find a creation of the most powerful families of Wall Street and US political establishment. The Center for Public Integrity was created in 1989 to enhance democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.”  Sounds noble enough.

Notably, however, listed funders in 2012 of the Center include the Ford Foundation, documented in the Cold War to work intimately with the CIA; George Soros’ Open Society Foundations; John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; billionaire Wall Street banker Sandy Bernstein’s Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC; GE Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund.

Now what do America’s crème de la crème of powerful families and bankers find so compelling about financing an organization of journalists who now hold documents allegedly containing material that could be used to blackmail governments and politicians and businessmen around the globe? Are their offshore holdings to be exposed along with those of Russians or French or Germans?

The relevant question is what agency would have the capacity to hack international computer data banks and secret encrypted banking offshore records to give to ICIJ?

Control the money, control the World…

The methodology of the ICIJ suggests another agenda at play. A global witch-hunt against private fortunes—legal or illegal—has begun. No longer is it a former employee of UBS or another Swiss bank who steals data files of a few secret German clients to give German tax authorities as an “act of conscience.” Now all offshore accounts in the world can presumably be exposed as ICIJ decides.

James S. Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, estimates that wealthy individuals have $21 trillion to $32 trillion in private financial wealth tucked away in offshore havens.   

The question is what agency or agencies of which governments have the espionage facilities to pull off such a massive global hacking of all offshore bank accounts?

William A. Hamilton was involved in the Reagan years with a project that the National Security Agency initiated to interdict the sale of embargoed technology to the Soviet Union. In a recent exchange with the author regarding the “source” for the ICIJ files on global offshore accounts, Hamilton noted, “NSA is one and perhaps the only obvious candidate.” He added that in the 1980s the NSA “obtained a copy of [Hamilton’s software] PROMIS from the US Department of Justice and arranged for copies to be installed on computers in the banking sector (wire transfer clearing houses…the World Bank…major commercial and investment banks worldwide) to facilitate NSA's real-time electronic surveillance.”  Clearly in the intervening three decades the NSA international banking covert espionage capabilities must have been upgraded.

There is a role for genuine honest investigative journalism, but the Secrecy for Sale project of the ICIJ smells like a massive US Government-sponsored blackmail or worse against the rest of the world’s wealth. As Rockefeller family protégé Henry Kissinger reportedly said during the 1970’s, “If you control the money, you control the entire World…”

F. William Engdahl can be reached through his website at or at

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.