The Panama Papers

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In the land of UK politics, things have gotten a little heated. This is mainly due to David Cameron – the prime minister’s secrecy with regards to his investment in an offshore fund founded by his father:

“David Cameron’s father ran an offshore fund that avoided ever having to pay tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents – including a part-time bishop – to sign its paperwork”.

It took the prime minister almost 5 different statements to admit that he profited from shares in Blairmore Holdings Inc. He made a total revenue of £31,000 and profit of £19,000 when he sold those shares in 2010 before becoming prime minister – the amount of which happened also to be conveniently under the required amount of profit (£20,200) made to be subject to capital gains tax. It is also the case that David Cameron lobbied successfully the European Union to have off-shore trusts subjected to a weaker level of transparency, compared to usual companies.

This controversy was caused because of the leaked documents relating to the actions and off-shore network of a law firm in Panama, named Mossack Fonseca. Mossak Fonesca which has 600 employees in 42 different countries, and:

“operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man”. 

Originally given to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the documents were eventually (and have so far only been partially) analysed by:

“The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit group in the US, [which] said [that] the cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars”. 

According to Al Jazeera, the 11.5 million documents linked the collusion between Mossack Fonesca, 12 current and former heads of state and 143 other politicians.

This is the largest amount of information released exposing the systematic collusion that occurs amongst the wealthy to avoid paying tax in the countries that they live in, and to pay much more favourable rates in countries that they don’t. This privilege is exclusively available to those who have accumulated enough cash and connections and is the main contributor to the severity of the public debt crises’ in many national government’s coffers, and the increasing income, wealth economic inequality plaguing the globe.

If you watch this interview on the BBC news with the Conservative business minister Nick Boles, the effort is always to frame the question in the terms if anything illegal has been done. When you have a revolving door between law firms and people in positions to make policy in government, to frame the question in this way is just another way to avoid answering anything.

The real question is – why do these things still remain as legal? Despite the legality, is it morally sound? David Cameron himself disagrees when others are involved. Overall, when you consider the answer to this, you can see that this is another classic case, of one rule for ordinary people, and another rule for those who the majority have inherited another set of advantages. This is why people are angry. It is why the Icelandic prime minister has already resigned, and is why many people are calling for David Cameron to do the same.



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