NEW YORK: The Panamanian government has hired Bellwether Strategies to burnish the country’s image after months of aftershock from the Panama Papers leak, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The firm is working on "daily activities to promote Panama’s commercial and diplomatic objectives worldwide," according to U.S. Justice Department documents cited by the ICIJ. The efforts include "electronic communication with news organizations and civil-society organizations, [such as] trade groups and think tanks," according to the documents, as well as drafting press releases and talking points as part of the $50,000-a-month contract.
Bellwether’s president and CEO is Mike Holtzman, who worked on Beijing’s successful bid for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and was an adviser for Qatar’s proposal to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to the firm’s website. His profile also noted he handles international strategy and media portfolios for governments in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Holtzman is also an adviser to BLJ, where he was the firm’s president prior to 2015.
Holtzman, PRWeek’s 2002 PR Pro of the Year, was not immediately available for comment.
Revealed this spring, the Panama Papers investigation, based on more than 11 million leaked files, detailed how political and business interests around the world stash their wealth in offshore entities and accounts.