The biggest story of the year

23 Nov

That is quite a claim to make, considering the other stories. But I stand by the claim. Now, ask yourselves, why haven’t you heard about it?

I have no idea why the British newspapers, largely owned by tax-avoiding billionaires, made so little of the Panama Papers story. I mean, what possible interest could they have in the actions of corrupt politicians and drug cartels?

Just because they hardly mentioned the story, it can’t mean that the owners of these papers benefitted from dirty deals in tax havens. I mean, perish the thought!

Just a reminder, as you might not have noticed, the story broke in April this year, in the biggest leak of data in history. The records of the 4th largest Offshore Tax Law firm, Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to a German newspaper, and from them to the BBC, the Guardian and various other institutions who actually engage in journalism. The next part is from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

“This investigation shows how secretly owned companies, many of them based in the UK’s tax havens, can act as getaway cars for terrorists, dictators, money launderers and tax evaders all over the world. The time has clearly come to take away the keys, by requiring the collection and publication of information on who really owns and controls these companies. This would make it much harder to launder dirty money and leave the rest of us safer as a result,” said Robert Palmer, campaign leader at Global Witness.

Among other facts revealed, it turns out that Vladimir Putin’s friend, a cellist, has secreted $2 Bn in one of these schemes. Now, not a lot of cellists make that kind of dosh, so I think that the money really comes from V Putin, as a little nest egg, in case things go a bit Pete Tong. But there are many other leaders of countries involved in such schemes.

Anyhow, to stop this getting too long, have a look at the initial Guardian guide to what is going on.

Just to point out that the largest and most important such tax havens are on British controlled territories, and can be controlled by British legislation. David Cameron, (bless!) said he wanted to do something to make the system more transparent. Then he resigned. No such qualms for Theresa May. Her government is resisting calls by the EU to do something about it.

Now, it would be unfair to infer that members of this government, or more likely the large corporate donors to the Conservative Party, had anything to do with such delaying tactics, so I will just leave that to you to decide.


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