It began with a tip-off.
An email from a web consultant pointing out Mossack Fonseca had recently moved the sever for its website from Panama to — of all places — Lower Hutt!
Mossack Fonseca! The Panamanian law firm at the centre of the massive leak of 11.5 million documents about the financial dealings of everyone from politicians to soccer stars to billionaires!
Could it be that their documents had been moved here?
Angus Allan from Wellington-based Hello Digital says he noticed the link when researching the Panama Papers for a tutorial he gives at Victoria University.
He punched in the Mossack Fonseca website http://www.mossfon.com into domain name search website “viewdns.info” and there it was under location: Lower Hutt, New Zealand.
“The fact that Lower Hutt would show up is odd, especially because Incapsula, their content delivery company, have no information about a server site in Lower Hutt”, says Mr Allan. “For a US-based company to even index Mossack Fonseca as having their website located in Lower Hutt is strange and the lack of information available only fuels the mystery behind it.”
Mr Allan also showed the result to his class.
“I presented what I found to about 40 students and they all responded in shock. ‘Lower Hutt? Of all the places in the world why would it be in Lower Hutt?’ one student said. Everyone was shocked, but most of all it got them thinking about the Panama Papers and how there is still so much more yet to be uncovered.”
But is it proof? Not all is so straightforward in cyber-security.
The company listed as owning the website is Incapsula Inc. It’s based in California under the name Imperva Incapsula and operates as a Content Delivery Network and Website Security company.
Imperva Incapsula’s website says its customers include companies lilke BNZ, Hitachi and Siemens.
It appears that after the story broke about the massive document dump, Mossack Fonseca moved its website hosting out of Panama and to the California-based company.
Imperva Incapsula says it has 28 data centres around the world, including one listed in a misspelt “Aukland”.
Also, if you put Mossack Fonseca’s website into other search tools, the location comes up as Atlanta, Georgia, which is another of the hosting company Incapsula’s data centres.
Then, as of April 13, the website http://www.mossfon.com was transferred to a Florida company called Perfect Privacy, a company that specialises in protecting clients’ information online.
It’s clear Mossack Fonseca has been trying to protect its information in the wake of the Panama Papers leak.
The ramifications have been felt all the way to New Zealand, where the Gvernment has ordered a review about its foreign trust laws.
The fact the trail might lead to Lower Hutt is intriguing, if nothing else.