Tuesday, February 20, 2018
“Panama Papers” Make a Splash, But Long Term It May Be Corruption As Usual

WASHINGTON, DC April 6 (DPI)  – It looks like a replay of the 2013 Edward Snowden Affair, only the data came from an offshore law firm rather than a government agency. In both cases, the sheer quantity of data has been breathtaking. And like the NSA leaks, the so-called “Panama Papers” case is creating a stir.

But – also like the NSA leaks three years ago  – the Panama Papers disclosures have proven mostly embarrassing, with little serious political fallout or immediate or apparent change in conduct. For millions the episode – so far – has simply confirmed long-held suspicions about behavior among the powerful. Yes, the president of tiny Iceland has apparently resigned in wake of revelations this week, and the UK’s David Cameron is under fire; they are among thousands of officials and celebrities worldwide who apparently are linked to offshore shell companies, the use of which is to hide income and skirt taxes.

But in chat rooms and reader comment boards across the internet, there has been little more than a collective shrug of the shoulders, a shared sense of resignation that little can be done to address global tax evasion among the rich, famous and powerful.

In the most recent disclosures, 11.5 million private documents (2.6 terabytes of data) from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca were last year anonymously forwarded to a German newspaper. Because of the sheer size of the leak, according to Wiki:

The documents were distributed to and analyzed by about 400 journalists at 107 media organizations in more than 80 countries. The first news reports based on the set, along with 149 of the documents themselves, were published on April 3, 2016, and a full list of companies is due to be released in early May 2016.

Thus the curtain is slowly being pulled back on participants in global tax evasion. But a key question remains: Will there be, and can there be, any meaningful reforms to combat the actions of criminals and others to launder money, and of other powerful individuals seeking to hide their money?

Until there is a huge change in the level of cooperation among sovereign nations where such activity takes place, the answer is likely no, according to experts.

Although The Washington Post and The New York Times were not part of the document review, The Times produced several excellent follow ups this week to the recent disclosures.


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