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Panama Papers Commission lacks transparency

August 13, 2016


Two members of the Panama Papers Commission just announced that they are leaving because of lack of transparancy, according to The Guardian on August 6, 2016.

The Commission was established by the Panamian government after a leak in April of more than 11.5 m documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The documents detail financial information from offshore accounts and potential tax evasion

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth explained to the Guardian that they could no longer investigate the lack of transparancy in Panama’s financial system, when it itself lacks transparency. The Panamanian government had refused to give any assurances that the final report will be made public.

No surprise. The Panama government has consistently supported the more or less legal activities of the law firm, Mossack Fonesca, de facto functioning as a tax haven for persons and companies, who didn’t want attention drawn to themselves. Persons and companies, who are sanctioned by the USA and the EU, have for years been able to store their money with Mossack Fonesca without any interference from the Panama government. The list includes persons like Rami Maklouf, probably Syria’s richest man and close to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, and companies like Drex Technologies. And the list goes on and on.

No surprise. The government of Panama raided the offices of Mossack Fonesca in April and has made several assurances that it will get to the bottom of the illegal activities. But the Panama Papers clearly show that such assurances have been made time and time again without before without anything being done about it. The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, made like statements during his visit to New York in June 2015, but nothing happened. And Mossack Fonseca co-fonder Ramon Fonesco was a minister under Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, until just earlier this year. He was forced to step down because ofcorruption allegations.

This excellent article from The Guardian gives an overview of the Panama Papers. For more read the thrilling book “The Panama Papers” by the two journalists from Suddeutsche Zeitung, who uncovered the story and in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) started a year long secret collaboration with over 400 journalists across more than eighty countries:

The Panama Papers: How the world’s rich and famous hide their money offshore

The Panama Papers revealed how some of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends hid hundreds of millions of dollars around the globe in complex financial structures (Youtube video from The Guardian):

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