This article has been updated.
After over more than a year of collaborations by journalists in about 80 countries, three days ago the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began releasing information on the ‘Panama Papers’ an investigative expose started by reporters at Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung who obtained millions of records from a confidential source blowing the whistle on a prominent law firm known as Mossack Fonseca whose primary business dealt with shell companies aka off-shore corporations.
The fallout so far includes the resignation of Iceland’s PM due to companies his wife holds with ties to failed banks. Lines have also been drawn, and denied, to as much as $2 billion in off-shore funds reportedly one degree away from Russian president Vladimir Putin’s control. But don’t expect to see many American names come up – Americans pay very little in taxes compared to Europeans, so other than tax criminals, those wishing to hide their wealth from family, and people with legitimate business interests overseas, you won’t see as many U.S. residents appearing in the continuing saga. In other words, Donald Trump is not likely to appear.
After the first release, and many more are sure to come, journalists and reporters in their niches began unearthing and sleuthing out connections to the shady world of offshore banking. On Monday we followed a Haaretz report on Playtech’s Teddy Sagi owning at least 16 offshore companies, Tuesday the Irish Times reported on Ray Grehan, a bankrupt U.K. developer who allegedly failed to disclose to the National Asset Management Agency his quarter share in a €50m Dutch casino, and now ClavinAyre.com is reporting on potential links between the Panama Papers and family and associates of the recently resigned Amaya CEO and Chairman, David Baazov. The CEO was charged with insider trading by Quebec’s securities regulator, Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) before stepping down in late March. The information seems to have come from an earlier release of documents, previous to April 3rd.
According to the report one of the companies exposed in the Panama Papers was Zhapa Holdings Inc. One of the shareholders in that company is identified as Goulissa Baazov – reportedly the sister to David and Ofer “Josh” Baazov. Another shareholder in Zhapa was Isam Mansour. Mr. Mansour is one of more than a dozen people who had their stock trading privileges revoked by the AMF in relation to the insider trading allegations.
The Clavinayre report goes on to draw potential associations between the now idled internet payment processor zhapa.com and internet gambling websites hosted on the same DNS server including BetonUSA.com (once owned by Josh and Craig Levett – another name found in the proceedings against Amaya’s David Baazov). Another site mentioned is Oddsmaker.ag. The seemingly tenuous connections are further fleshed out with fairly convincing reason, including a timeline and oratory “Venn diagram” but no concrete proof of wrongdoing is currently exposed.
Presumably additional gambling industry leaders will be exposed as the journalists working on the 11.5 million newly leaked documents release more information. The fallout from the leak and subsequent investigations are unpredictable and not measurable at this point, but promise to result in upheavals in business, government, sports, and several other areas – the gambling world is likely the least of them.
Update 4-8-2016: This article has been updated to reflect that the information drawn from was from an earlier release by the ICIJ and not the April 3 ‘Panama Papers’. We also previously referenced Amaya CFO, Daniel Sebag and mentioned shareholders in Zhapa Holdings Inc., with the same last name. According to reliable reports Mr. Sebag is not related to nor associated with those individuals, so that reference has been removed.