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Truthdigger of the Week: The Panama Papers Whistleblower
Posted on Apr 9, 2016
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The whistleblower who gave journalists 11.5 million documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca in order to publicize how the world’s wealthy hide their riches has done an immeasurable service to our global society.
The documents, now known as the Panama Papers, contain details about shell companies, money laundering and other crimes (click here for explanations of these terms) committed via loopholes that provide “an unprecedented look at how the world’s rich and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use tax havens to hide their wealth.”
Below is a description of the leak from Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper that received the data:
While some may assert that many of us already knew that the rich often find ways to avoid paying taxes, the Panama Papers have given journalists and the public a look at the mechanisms that allow this form of corruption to prevail across the globe. And perhaps more importantly, the papers, to put it simply, have named names. Among them are the president of Argentina, friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the father of British Prime Minister David Cameron, relatives of Syria’s Bashar Assad, China’s Xi Jinping, Azerbaijan’s royal family—the list goes on and on.
And when you consider that the few names that have been released by the 400 journalists at over 100 media organizations sifting through the data have already led to the prime minister of Iceland’s resignation, as well as to calls for David Cameron to follow in his footsteps, the importance of the leak starts to take shape.
At a time when international income inequality is reaching record levels and protests against it have spread from the Middle East to Europe, the United States and beyond, the Panama Papers serve as proof that the unrest we are witnessing is rooted in the uber-rich’s disregard for the rest. Despite their attempts to sugarcoat them, their underhanded dealings reveal their understanding that their excess wealth, no matter how it was gained, is something to be hidden away because it contributes to the destitution of others. As Clark Gascoigne, director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition, has noted, tax avoidance is “the single biggest driver of global inequality in the world today.” The Tax Justice Network backs this up with its estimates that between $21 trillion and $32 trillion is stored in offshore tax havens.
Despite claims from many of those unmasked in the Panama Papers that what they’ve done is not illegal, wrongdoings abound, as a fantastically snarky piece in the Independent illustrates:
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