The papers have been ablaze with headlines about the recent exposé of Mossack Fonseca & Co and the 2.6 terabyte file containing 11.5 million leaked documents about the internal operations of one of the world’s leading firms in the incorporation of offshore entities, and which is head-quartered in the Republic of Panama. Dubbed the Panama papers by the media, the data shows that Mossack Fonseca was working/worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, corporations and other men in black to set up companies, foundations and trusts for clients who with the company’s expertise profited hugely from off shore accounts and various Tax havens. The files were originally obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) and then leaked to more than 100 media partners.
The core of this investigation contains nearly 40 years of records, and includes information about more than 210,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. The countries most heavily implemented in the crime were Hong Kong, UK, USA and Switzerland with the British Virgin Islands being the most popular tax haven for clients of Mossack Fonseca to use. As well as corporations such as HSBC, Rothschild Trust and Landsbanki Luxembourg many of the world’s elite were implicated in the data. Dictator and agitator of Syria Bashar al Assad, authoritarian, manipulator Putin as well as Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson,who has now resigned after leaks exposed his offshore accounts he had set up secretly with Mossack Fonseca.
The British prime minister David Cameron was also exposed in the leaks, with his late farther Ian Cameron being linked to off shore accounts and profiting from a “unit trust” fund; this is where a group of people pool their money (by buying shares, or units) and use it to invest in a variety of companies, to spread out the financial risk. The money from this passed to David Cameron upon his father’s death. The documents also shine a light on Britain’s capitalist relationships, exposing Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan president of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) who up till now had secretly been UK’s biggest offshore landlord with a 1.2 billion property portfolio.
Now it is important to keep things in context by pointing out that under our current political structures, i.e capitalism, off shore accounts are not completely illegal; and instead they often exploit legal loop holes to bypass current laws set up to halt tax avoidance. In fact, the rhetoric from the bourgeois and Cameron’s allies would have you believe that nothing damnable has happened. Herein lies the fundamental problem which makes this much more criminal, and in turn, exposes the deeper rooted sickness embedded at the heart of our society’s ideology that allows such inequality to inherently exist within our economic systems.
These leaks are but a glimpse of the ruling class and no doubt just scratch the surface of the accumulated wealth hoarded by the rich. For those wishing to look at the raw data click here. What is so appalling about the revelations the data shows, and why so many are in an uproar, is due to the utter hypocrisy that is highlighted in the leaks. Although not everyone who uses off shore accounts is automatically a crook; it does seem to appear to be a morally questionable way to profit, especially seeing it was only last year British PM David Cameron took to a stage in Singapore and said “the corrupt, criminals and money launderers” take advantage of anonymous company structures. The government is trying to do something about this. It wants to set up a central register that will reveal the beneficial owners of offshore companies. claiming that UK companies will be forced to reveal their “significant” owners for the first time. which now seems almost laughable seeing when confronted about his affiliation with the data dump Cameron claimed he did not have to disclose the information calling it a “private matter”. Tory MP Alan Duncan yesterday described the non-wealthy as “low achievers” in defence of Cameron in the House of Commons. If it wasn’t so insulting, it would almost be laughable especially from a mostly self- employed oil tycoon millionaire, who back in May 2009 appeared on the satirical BBC programme Have I Got News for You. The programme showed footage of Duncan’s previous appearance on the show in which he boasted about his second home allowance, denied that he should pay any of the money back and stated it was “a great system”.
However finding hypocrites within the political class seems far too easy and at the heart of it, it should be expected from this fall out. The important thing outside of the data that the Panama Papers will inject into society is, that it will dispel this myth that the wealthiest amongst us got their wealth through hard labour that has somehow been adopted by the mainstream. We need only look to the London protests starting and the people of Iceland, who are now calling for their entire government to resign. The only benefit of these scandals are the power they give the left and its various movements, that blossom when economic corruption is exposed.