After the so-called Panama Papers caused the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister, the same leak is knocking on the British Prime Minister’s door. The Guardian reports that UK Premier David Cameron’s father, Ian Cameron, is implicated in documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The source also added that “an offshore investment fund run by Ian Cameron has paid no UK tax since it was established in the 1980s.”
Like an earthquake triggering a vast tsunami, the ripples of the leak have now reached the doors of the British Prime Minister. And from the looks of it, the Panama Papers tsunami isn’t halting any time soon. In fact, it has reached Russia and China as well. Although the leaked documents never mention Russian leader Vladimir Putin specifically, Putin’s close associates are highlighted in the paper leak. In China, The Guardian also reports that “all mention of Panama Papers (are) banned from Chinese papers.”
According to the same source, an “Internet watchdog forbids editors from covering scandal as names of high-profile Chinese emerge.” In Canada, MSN writes that “Canadians are right to be angry over the Panama papers leak.”
The reason cited: “‘Leak’ is hardly the right word. The Panama Papers, as they are being called, are more of a Noah-style great flood. A full 2.6 terabytes of computer files, encompassing 11.5 million documents relating to 200,000 offshore companies operating in tax havens like Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.”
Whereas the Chinese government can easily suppress news implicating its leaders, in Britain this cannot be done. So when asked by a reporter regarding the leaked documents and his father’s involvement thereof, the PM has chosen his wording wisely, as follows:
“Look, the investigation we need, first of all, is for HMRC, our tax authority, to use all the information that is coming out of Panama to make sure that everything is done, to make sure that companies and individuals are paying their taxes properly…In terms of my own financial affairs, I own no shares. I have a salary as prime minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from and I have a house, which we used to live in, which we now let out while we are living in Downing Street and that’s all I have. I have no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And, so that, I think, is a very clear description.”
According to a previous Inquisitr story, the resignation of the Iceland PM “centers on an undeclared interest in his wife’s wealth, a portion of which was stored in an offshore tax haven in order to avoid paying taxes to his own government in Iceland.”
In the case of the British Prime Minister, it is the father, not the wife, who is named in the leak: “To be clear, the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds. The prime minister owns no shares. As has been previously reported, Mrs Cameron owns a small number of shares connected to her father’s land, which she declares on her tax return.”
The carefulness with which the British media has approached the subject of the Panama Paper leaks is echoed in CNN’s continuing coverage on the same subject. CNN provided the point of view of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm from which the papers were illegally obtained:
“Our industry is not particularly well understood by the public, and unfortunately this series of articles will only serve to deepen that confusion. The facts are these: while we may have been the victim of a data breach, nothing we’ve seen in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggests we’ve done anything illegal, and that’s very much in keeping with the global reputation we’ve built over the past 40 years of doing business the right way, right here in Panama.”
The truth is, stashing money in offshore bank accounts is completely legal in countries such as Panama, Seychelles, and The British Virgin Islands, to name just a few. This will explain why companies such as Mossack Fonseca exist. The law firm’s main business is to safeguard assets from being stolen. If all similar businesses were compelled to become transparent with all the clients they are dealing with, the entire industry would most certainly collapse. In the same manner, countries that depend to a great degree on being known as tax havens would cease to exist.
MSN, however, holds the opposite view on the matter when it comes to the Canadian public.
“The Panama Papers suggest that shady, self-interested behavior, like so many other things, has gone global; wealthy people, whose first allegiance is to their bank books, working in concert with accountants, lawyers, and each other, to put their money beyond the reach of governments. Maybe it’s not illegal, but it’s clearly not fair—yet another advantage conferred upon the already obscenely overprivileged. It might be time for Canadians to broaden their horizons and start getting angry about what happens behind oak-paneled doors in Geneva, or in air-conditioned offices in the Caymans.”
Therefore, with such polarity of stances, the issue is highly likely to rage on with differing reactions around the world, particularly in Europe, Russia, China, and Canada. So far, the first casualty is the Iceland Prime Minister. Whether or not the domino effect is in play, it remains to be seen. As it looks right now, the world financial community or industry may need a governing body to be set up specifically to deal with the type of torrent the Panama Papers have triggered.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]