The Panama Papers: Exposing The Dichotomy Between Good Words And Bad Actions
In yet another example in which the public of the world is made fun of, a consortium of journalists across the world have exposed big holes in the moral fabric of several world leaders, actors and other renowned personalities.
The Panama Papers are a giant leak - 11.5m files from the offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, a specialist in wealth management and offshore investments. The company is well networked with employees all over the world (600 in 42 countries). It also has franchisees who help boost sales. The company has offices in other tax havens as well, predominant among them The British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Seychelles and of course Panama. The company did business with intermediaries rather than with business owners. Russia and China topped the list of business’ Mossack Fonseca was doing business with.
The 2.6 terrabytes of information revealed that Mossack Fonseca was managing for more than 300,000 companies. While it is not illegal to invest in offshore investment companies, everything was not up to speed.
Panama is a tax haven which Investopedia defines as:
A tax haven is a country that offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. Individuals and businesses that do not reside a tax haven can take advantage of these countries' tax regimes to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Tax havens do not require that an individual reside in or a business operate out of that country in order to benefit from its tax policies.
Immediately it becomes clear that those who would like to evade taxes or hide their ill-gotten gains would prefer tax havens to their own home countries where questions would be raised.
The United States entered into a bi-lateral trade agreement with Panama to boost trade and commerce. Unfortunately, it led to several shell companies being formed and the U.S lost revenue in taxes that was due to them. A vehement opponent to this agreement was Senator Bernie Sanders. His fears were clearly well-founded in the light of the Panama Paper leaks. In a statement regarding the leak his press statement noted:
We now know, as a result of the ‘Panama Papers’ released by an international consortium of investigative journalists, that more than 214,000 entities throughout the world have been using a law firm in Panama to avoid paying taxes.
At a time of massive income and wealth inequality in the United States and around the world, the wealthiest people and largest corporations must start paying their fair share of taxes. Children should not go hungry while billionaires use offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
The Panama Free Trade Agreement put a stamp of approval on Panama, a world leader when it comes to allowing the wealthy and the powerful to avoid taxes.
I was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement from day one. I predicted that the passage of this disastrous trade deal would make it easier, not harder, for the wealthy and large corporations to evade taxes by sheltering billions of dollars offshore. I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared.
Companies like Mossack Fonseca sell privacy and secrecy for a very high price to political leaders like Putin , the prince of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Shariff; They offer these services to anyone who can pay the price including drug traffickers, human traffickers, fraudsters and terrorists even. They enable money laundering and cover the tracks used by traffickers and terrorists that Governments spends millions on tracking.
This content is for paid members only.
Join our membership for lifelong unlimited access to all our data science learning content and resources.