The Panama Papers is a global investigation into the sprawling, secretive industry of offshore that the world’s rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which coordinated the research on a trove of more than 11 million leaked files that come from Panama based law firm Mossack Fonseca, the investigation exposes a cast of characters who use offshore companies to facilitate bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking.
Before you accept the possible perspective of ‘I’m not surprised!’ Let us take you a little further as to why this should matter to us individually and collectively here in the UK?
The first reason is that it is alledged that David Cameron’s father and top Tory MP’s are named in the leaked documents, that make up a list that includes other world leaders and dignitaries who have been named or have links to Mossack Fonseca.
If you watched the video above, you will have had a small insight into what companies like Mossack Fonseca are facilitating and endorsing, atrocities that we are all paying for one way or another, whether it be by overseas aid to countries where they are unable to sustain themselves due to tax avoidance and corruption. Or by the notion that those that govern us have got there by hard work and intellect and not by fixing the rules in their favour or by breaking them with impunity, is a myth.
Then there is the collective turning a blind eye to the unscrupulous and in some cases evil actions and consequences of others using the same organizations and methods to create wealth and power at the expense of others. The collective will to overlook others wrong doing however atrocious it may be, so as to not expose your own wrong doings.
In the case of Mr Cameron’s father Ian Cameron, The Guardian reported in 2012, that Ian Cameron had an offshore tax haven named after the family home in Aberdeenshire, a Victorian mansion named Blairmore House. Mr Ian Cameron used Mossack Fonseca’s services to shield his investment fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc. A 2006 prospectus for Blairmore Holdings Inc described Mr Cameron, a stockbroker and multi-millionaire, as “instrumental in [its] formation”. It said the fund “should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for UK taxation purposes”.
The Cameron’s family’s banking history goes back even further, to the 1860s, when Sir Ewen Cameron joined the industry. He later helped the Rothschild banking dynasty sell war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war.
Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party speaker on economics and finance, has responded to the so called Panama paper, by saying;
“What becomes clear from the revelations contained in the Panama Papers is that it is the UK that is at the centre of the global network of tax havens that facilitates tax avoidance and crime. More than half the companies listed in the documents are registered in British-administered tax havens or the UK itself. This is deeply embarrassing for us as a country and reveals as entirely hollow the Chancellor’s claim to be cracking down on tax avoidance.”
And to illustrate just how easy it is for those in power with all the wealth, to stay in power and keep all the wealth, watch this short video from The Guardian:
But before we get bogged down in the going’s on of Putin and the Cameron’s, let’s pause a moment and ask ourselves, where has this leak come from and who is telling us what? The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. Author, broadcaster and human rights activist Craig Murray who was also British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, highlights the point that the main search of the files has been for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media could be perceived to follow a direct western governmental agenda. The Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.” Which could be interpreted as the leak being managed enabling a hand picked exposé. And when you consider that the “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)
among many others. Can we really expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny “balancing” a western country like Iceland, a superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone dead or with pending dementia.
What if they did Mossack Fonseca database searches on the owners of all the corporate media and their companies, and all the editors and senior corporate media journalists?
What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every donor to the Center for Public Integrity and their companies?
What if they did Mossack Fonseca searches on every listed company in the western stock exchanges, and on every western millionaire they could trace?
What if we were able to see ALL the data?
What cannot be ignored by the leaking of these documents is the fact that a picture is emerging of a global, ‘game’ of money laundering, deceit and corruption that is becoming more and more harder to dispel myth or minor. And when you begin to acknowledge the level of unscrupulous behavior that is taking place by our world leaders and the people that govern us, it begs the question, what wouldn’t they do to secure their own interests be it financial or to cover their tracks?
The lines between political fact and fiction is as blurred as it can get, with award winning drama’s like ‘House of Cards, Homelands or Scandal, dramatising what many of us would consider far fetched or purely entertainment, yet somehow in our concious we feel in many points they are likely hitting the nail squarely on the head.
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Video clip by:
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Hamish Boland-Rudder
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER/AUDIO EDITOR: Carrie Ching
ANIMATION ARTIST: Arthur Jones
REPORTER: Will Fitzgibbon
NARRATOR: Eleanor Bell Fox
SUPPORTED BY THE PULITZER CENTER ON CRISIS REPORTING
For more, go to panamapapers.icij.org