Mossfon remains a maze worthy of a Cretan palace, but Bernstein does first-rate work in providing a map to a scandal that...

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SECRECY WORLD

INSIDE THE PANAMA PAPERS INVESTIGATION OF ILLICIT MONEY NETWORKS AND THE GLOBAL ELITE

A searching look at the tangled, deeply buried financial network exposed by the publication of the so-called Panama Papers.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bernstein (co-author: Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency, 2006), a reporter with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, recounts the story that the millions of documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm tell about how corporations and wealthy individuals hide their money in offshore accounts. As he notes, that firm has its origins in the Third Reich, when a former SS commando made his way to Latin America, “a beacon for former Nazis following Germany’s defeat,” and became an expert in maritime law. His partner in Mossack Fonseca had long roots in Panama’s political class as well as a fearless embrace of a questionable clientele—arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, for one. “In Panama, moral flexibility was a professional selling point,” writes Bernstein; the country has a long history of catering to an international criminal cohort in exchange for a cut of the action. Mossack Fonseca, by the author’s account, went headfirst into the business of parking massive fortunes in places where they supposedly would not be detected: the Seychelles, Liechtenstein, the British Virgin Islands. As “Mossfon” grew, it expanded its markets to places like China, whose wealthy had been sheltering money in Panama and Liberia but needed a new haven with the fall of Manuel Noriega and Samuel Doe; Mossfon obliged with fake foundations, silent partnerships, and a range of other strategies, some quite illegal. As its influence grew, others came into Mossfon’s orbit—including members of Vladimir Putin’s circle and, it seems, of Donald Trump’s as well. Bernstein alleges that “Trump had long made a practice of consorting with dodgy characters for financial gain, so Mossfon wouldn’t have been a stretch. In the months since his election, notes the author, it has been difficult to distinguish whether the administration’s actions are in the public or private interest.

Mossfon remains a maze worthy of a Cretan palace, but Bernstein does first-rate work in providing a map to a scandal that has yet to unfold completely.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12668-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2017

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

LICENSED TO LIE

EXPOSING CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

A former Justice Department lawyer, who now devotes her private practice to federal appeals, dissects some of the most politically contentious prosecutions of the last 15 years.

Powell assembles a stunning argument for the old adage, “nothing succeeds like failure,” as she traces the careers of a group of prosecutors who were part of the Enron Task Force. The Supreme Court overturned their most dramatic court victories, and some were even accused of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. Yet former task force members such as Kathryn Ruemmler, Matthew Friedrich and Andrew Weissman continued to climb upward through the ranks and currently hold high positions in the Justice Department, FBI and even the White House. Powell took up the appeal of a Merrill Lynch employee who was convicted in one of the subsidiary Enron cases, fighting for six years to clear his name. The pattern of abuse she found was repeated in other cases brought by the task force. Prosecutors of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen pieced together parts of different statutes to concoct a crime and eliminated criminal intent from the jury instructions, which required the Supreme Court to reverse the Andersen conviction 9-0; the company was forcibly closed with the loss of 85,000 jobs. In the corruption trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key witness was intimidated into presenting false testimony, and as in the Merrill Lynch case, the prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense, a violation of due process under the Supreme court’s 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision. Stevens’ conviction, which led to a narrow loss in his 2008 re-election campaign and impacted the majority makeup of the Senate, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the presiding judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate abuses. Confronted with the need to clean house as he came into office, writes Powell, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to take action.

The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61254-149-5

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Brown Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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