Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#Panamapapers Offshore Funds: On the Run With (Almost) Nowhere to Go?

As strange as it may seem, a confluence of developments in the banking industry means the Panama Papers revelations looks likely make it a lot more difficult for offshore money, as tax evasions and tax secrecy are often politely called, to stay hidden. This would serve as a marked contrast to the last international-headlines-gripping leaks, the Snowden revelations. Even though Snowden gave a big window into the reach of the surveillance state, not all that much has changed, save the Chinese making more active efforts to avoid cloud computing and US technology vendors, and the Europeans bashing US concerns over violations of their privacy laws. Mossack Fonseca records haul feeds into trends in banking that mean that a lot of these funds are going to find it hard remain secret.

Calls to tighten laws have predictably arisen in Australia and other countries following the explosive media revelations from the Panama Papers. There is growing outrage at the legal and illegal ways in which officials and corporations are able to shield wealth from tax and law enforcement authorities.
But the problem is not only about the laws. It is more about their enforcement. In the world of fraud and corruption, the most important operating principle that effective anti-corruption agencies apply is simple: follow the money. Hence, an agency’s abilities to examine financial accounts, conduct surveillance, utilise communication intercepts and entrap suspected criminals are critical to collecting evidence to ensure prosecution. This is why the Panama Papers are important. They are the equivalent of a smoking gun. They have opened the lid on the tax haven underworld, providing a treasure trove of data that should help governments and non-government organisations connect the dots in its byzantine pathways. Panama papers expose disparity in tax law enforcement

It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right and the person who is really wrong is the one who is proving you wrong and proving himself, wrongly, right. Right?
German justice minister appeals to press to hand over Panama Papers Reuters
Ukraine PM Yatseniuk resigns Financial Times. Richard Smith writes:
The [panamapapers] scandal intensified the already acrimonious relations between Poroshenko’s bloc and Yatseniuk’s party, which for months have been fueled by mutual accusations of corruption.

Maybe Yatseniuk will say more later about why he walked.
David Cameron Releases Tax Data After Panama Papers Backlash New York Times
Panama Papers: PM has lost moral authority to govern, he should go Simon Busuttil, The Malta Independent
Photos from the demonstration in Malta Daphne Caruana Galizia
We mustn’t let this Panama Papers anger go to waste Carl Levin, The Guardian
Panama Papers: Act now. Don’t wait for another crisis Thomas Piketty, The Guardian