Panama City, Panama (TFC)— As shady as the game is, should anyone be surprised a top military contractor has been named in the Panama Papers leak? No, it’s not Blackwater, AKA Xi, AKA Academi, but it’s merger– Triple Canopy. The group, suspect for illegal killings and weapons trading, now adds tax avoidance to it’s list of crimes.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Triple Canopy emerged alongside other war profiteers during Iraq’s 2003 invasion. Similar to Erik Prince’s Blackwater, renamed twice and sold, Triple Canopy competes for top government security contracts. It’s personnel were responsible for protecting coalition authorities during the war, as well as performing other logistical tasks.
Mossack Fonseca’s damning 11.5 million document leak has brought Triple Canopy back to print news. According to Fusion, the contractor went through a rather elaborate series of capitalistic takeovers to avoid tax accountability. Triple Canopy began by reputedly absorbed defense contractor Edinburgh International using a shell company. Following that purchase, Daily Caller reports, Mossack Fonseca registered those companies, thus beginning their relationship.
Ironically, former Triple Canopy CEO Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas advocated before congress for US contractors over foreign competitors. Balderas’ arguement, Daily Caller reports, rested on the notion that a US company is more accountable, which isn’t the reality. In fact, Iggy’s outfit absorbed Edinburgh International meer weeks before that meeting.
If you’re in the crowd that finds that disingenuous, the State Department isn’t amongst you. Officials, defending Triple Canopy, said unless firm’s are “involved in the performance” of contractors, it’s irrelevant. University of Baltimore contracting expert Charles Tiefer disagrees, Daily Caller reports. “There’s no reason for them to do that, except for the same reason that people bank in Turks and Caicos, which is to take them out of the line of visibility of American domestic authorities, who can’t audit the doings of Caribbean island entities.”
Not unlike Blackwater, the Delta Force founded Triple Canopy was accused of illegally gunning down Iraqis in the streets. Killings became so frequent and random, in fact, two TC employee’s whistle blew what they’d seen before a court. The contractor has also been implicated in buying black market weapons and mismanaging critical contracts.
Want more? Triple Canopy also misled the family of a deceased contractor regarding the circumstances of his suspicious death. Adam Hermanson’s family was notified by a senior manager, Jeff Wilczak, claiming Adam was found collapsed in his bed. It was later confirmed that spokespeople lied when asked if Adam’s body had any marks, and then gutted his bunk. An independent autopsy found Adam died of electrocution and, interestingly, every piece of wiring equipment had been stripped from his room. To this day, no sound chain of events has been put forward to explain the 25 year old’s death inside 2003’s Green Zone.
All of this may be alarming, given the billions poured into these private army conglomerations through lucrative contracts. Military contracting exists in a international legal grey area, a thin line separating acceptable from reprehensible. These most recent revelations serve only to exemplify a fundamental failing in modern military contracting– accountability. Will the Panama Papers propel lawmakers to respond, or will it quietly disappear until another atrocity surfaces?