Panama PapersUpdated: Nov 3, 2016
Huge Leak of Information Reveals What World’s Elite Wants to Hide
The Panama Papers
Tax evasion in the form of offshore accounts and companies has been relatively common among the wealthy elite for a long time. The Panama Papers have revealed the extent of the corruption involved. The law firm and corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca has been protecting its clients’ information for a long time, and there has been a tremendous offshore records leak as of late. The massive leak of documents that have come to be known as the Panama Papers, because Mossack Fonseca is based in Panama, have revealed that the world’s wealthy elite has been evading taxation and committing fraud to a degree that has stunned the whole world. These papers have provided authorities with information on 214,488 offshore actors.
The People Implicated By the Panama Papers
The Panama Papers are truly shocking in terms of their scope. There are 11.5 million records here, and they are full of the accounts of illegal activities of billionaires, drug traffickers, politicians, professional athletes, and celebrities. Football player Lionel Messi and famous actor Jacki Chan are among their ranks. There are at least 128 public officials and politicians involved, including the king of Saudi Arabia, six members of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, and the prime ministers of Pakistan and Iceland. More than two hundred people with American addresses alone have shown up in these documents. In many cases, the families of politicians were involved, such as the children of the Azerbaijan president. At least 33 of the people and companies that have been implicated have been involved with terrorist organizations, rogue nations, or drug lords.
One bitterly ironic facet of the scandal is the fact that public leaders who have become famous for trying to end corruption have also been involved. Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s family is connected to the documents, as is the father of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
It is possible that some of these people are victims of circumstances and that they have not benefited from the shady dealings of their families, but it is equally possible that they partly managed to get away with what they did because it was through their family members. It does seem that a great deal of these people have been using trusted individuals to take the risk when it comes to laundering money for them, particularly people like President Putin.
At this point in the scandal, some of the people accused or involved with those who were accused are coming forward. Overall, they have been trying to weasel out of their responsibilities. Vladimir Putin has said that the allegations were just designed to discredit the people involved and cause instability in Russia. The Icelandic prime minister has resigned over this scandal, and this scandal may change Iceland’s public image for a long time.
Mossack Fonseca’s Involvement In An International Corruption Scandal
Up until recently, Mossack Fonseca was an obscure corporate service provider and law firm that was located in Panama but with a few dozen branches and offices throughout the world. It is the fourth largest offshore law firm in the world, but it never really rose to prominence in the general public consciousness. Today, this is a law firm and corporate service provider that is going to go down in history as being one of the most infamous and corrupt organizations in the world.
There are lots of documents to go through that will illuminate exactly what Mossack Fonseca did for their clients. However, overall, they worked to keep a huge amount of information related to their clients’ financial records secret. They have removed paper records and erased electronic records in the wake of potential legal troubles for their clients. They backdate documents in order to help their clients cheat in financial transactions. In fact, clients have actually paid them to backdate documents, so there is no doubt that many of these clients knew about this practice and actively encouraged it. Law firms are allowed to give their clients a high degree of confidentiality, but it is safe to say that Mossack Fonseca has abused that privilege in every way.
The International Community Responds to the Panama Offshore Records Leak
The Panama Papers scandal is shaping up to be one of the defining moments of the twenty-first century. The international community has jumped on it. Journalists all around the world are working together in order to investigate Mossack Fonseca more thoroughly. This issue has managed to bring journalists together in a way that was completely unprecedented.
Law enforcement officials from all over the world are launching their own investigations into Mossack Fonseca and everyone connected to the law firm. Brazil has been particularly active when it comes to uncovering the scandal and bringing the people responsible to justice. They are investigating former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and current president Dilma Rousseff may lose her position as a result of this scandal. Employees at the Brazilian office of Mossack Fonseca have been arrested, and Brazil is continuing to respond to this problem. Other countries that have Mossack Fonseca offices are launching more of their own investigations.
This scandal has tremendous implications for people all around the world. High London property prices have been linked to the fact that these wealthy people have been able to buy up the best properties in the area while evading the local taxes and using cached wealth. Some people have discussed this issue in terms of the Great Recession, wondering about the link between ongoing economic troubles and the Panama Papers.
Of course, the scandal has also revived the old debate about privacy and access to information in a technological society, with some people raising concerns about the broader implications about the leak and not just the results of the leak. Other sources are celebrating the incident as an example of a new form of activism that is only possible in the Information Age, and which will stop the rich and the powerful from guarding all of their ignoble secrets.
The situation raises all sorts of questions about the amount of wealth that has been siphoned away from governments all around the world as a result of all of this offshore tax evasion. Norway, Spain, Germany, Australia, and France are all looking into the issue from the taxation perspective, partly in the hopes of recovering some of the money that their respective governments are owed. There is no telling how all of the recovered wealth might affect the economy, or whether the costs of the investigation are going to counteract all of the potential financial benefits.