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Panama Papers: Son of a man who killed Emmett Till named in latest leak

The Mississippi businessman was connected to the Mossack Fonseca law firm

Feliks Garcia
New York
Monday 09 May 2016 21:36 BST
Mario Bennett/Facebook
Mario Bennett/Facebook

The latest release of the Panama Papers includes the name of a Mississippi businessman whose father killed 14-year-old Emmett Till - one the most high-profile racialized killings in the pre-Civil Rights US.

Harvey Milam - son of a man who admitted to killing Till, JW - showed up in the latest leak of the 11m documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in April. The documents implicated numerous heads of state, businessmen, and celebrities in money laundering and tax evasion scandals, with the help of the law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama.

According to the ICIJ, Mr Milam was a client of Michael B Edge, who was an "unofficial representative" of Mosseck Fonseca questioned by the FBI in 2000.

Mr Milam was reportedly sued by the Nevis-based insurance company, Condor Insurance Limited, who claimed that he cheated investors by “fraudulently transferring the insurer’s assets to other companies”. The insurance company accused Mr Milam of transferring $313m in assets to Condor Guaranty, Inc, “to put them out of the reach of creditors,” the lawsuit filing reads.

The suit was reportedly settled in 2012. Mr Milam never admitted to any wrongdoing.

JW MIlam (right) Rex

Mr Milam’s father, JW, along with his half-brother Roy Bryant, lynched Till on 28 August 1955 for apparently whistling at a white girl in Money, a small town in the Southern state. The two men kidnapped Till, beat him, and shot him with a Colt .45 pistol. Till’s body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River three days later.

Both JW and Mr Bryant were acquitted by an all-white jury. JW later admitted to the killing in a 1956 article in Look magazine that graphically describes the killing.

“Chicago boy,” JW said, “I'm tired of ‘em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. ... I'm going to make an example of you - just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.”

JW and Mr Bryant reportedly sold their story to Look for $3,500.

The acquittal of the two confessed killers exposed the level of racial injustice in the US South, and is widely considered a pivotal moment that helped spark the Civil Rights movement.

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