The #PanamaPapers: If it was a US/Soros-backed plot it backfired badly
Suspicions that this was a ‘hit job’ on an ‘official enemy’ of the US stem from the timing of the Panama Papers release - just one week after Russia helped the Syrian Army liberate Palymra from ISIS, thus pushing back US plans for regime change in Syria still further - and that the documents had been shared with two particular organizations, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
which receives funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institutes - and in the case of the former, USAID.
Soros, the world‘s 16th richest man, is a well-known enemy of the Russian government (at Davos this year he made his usual attacks on Russia and its policies) and any ‘leaks’ and allegations that would show Putin in a bad light would of course further his agenda. The lack of prominent US individuals among the 11 million released documents has also raised a few eyebrows.
suspicions understandable when no US officials & corporate media gatekeeping the leaks https://t.co/pyNLoUyOyR— Joe Emersberger (@rosendo_joe) April 5, 2016
But if we are indeed talking about a US/ Sorosian conspiracy to foment trouble in Russia in a parliamentary election year, then it’s a plan which seems to owe more to Baldrick than Albert Einstein.
While ‘official enemies’ Putin and Assad duly made the headlines on day one of the news leak, the story has now moved on and threatens to jeopardize the careers of individuals Washington surely wouldn’t want to see affected. Furthermore, the leaks also put into the spotlight the turbo-globalist, elite-friendly economic system designed not in Russia, but by self-styled ‘free marketers’ in the US and Britain in the 1970s. A Pandora’s Box has been opened by the Panama leaks and - ironically given the ICIJ and the OCCRP’s funding – it’s billionaire global capitalists like George Soros who have done very well out of the economic changes of the last forty years who have most to fear from the populist backlash.
Here’s the rub: Since the late 1970s and the advent of Thatcherism and Reagonomics, we’ve seen a massive transfer of wealth from the majority to the super-rich as elite-friendly neoliberal policies replaced the more collectivist ones which operated in the thirty or so years following World War II.
In Britain, a report of the OECD in 2011 found the income share of the top one percent more than doubled in the period 1970 to 2005. Last October, Oxfam revealed that half the world’s wealth was in the hands of just one percent of the population.
The Panama leaks, described by whistleblower Edward Snowden as “the biggest leak in the history of data journalism,” show us how the global super-rich exploit the current system still further to keep their wealth away from the taxman - and get even richer at our expense.
And what the revelations make clear is that the super-rich wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of banks, lawyers, accountants and other intermediaries who most clearly do not act in the public interest.
British neocons and Sorosian ‘liberals’ who no doubt gloated over Monday’s headlines in the US and Britain involving Putin and Assad really don’t have anything to shout about, because while no one named in the leaks comes out smelling of roses, it’s Washington’s most obedient ally- Britain - and its political and financial elites that arguably comes out of this scandal worst of all.
The more we read about the leaks, the more we understand the key role of the City of London, British overseas territories and Crown Dependencies in the global tax avoidance system.
After Hong Kong (which don‘t forget was a British Dependent Territory until 1997), UK firms figure more than the firms of any other countries in the Panama Papers. All in all, 1,900 British firms feature, and more than half of the 300,000 firms believed to have used the services of Mossack-Fonesca are registered in British overseas territories or Crown dependencies.
The role of British banks, such as HSBC, Rothschild and Coutts in helping the rich stash their gains away in tax-havens has also been highlighted.
Indeed, the Panama scandal goes right to the heart of the British establishment as top Tory donors have been named in the leaked Papers. But it’s the revelations about the late father of the current Prime Minister which could do most damage to Cameron and his government.
Ian Cameron, a multi-millionaire stockbroker, was the director of an investment fund called Blairmore, which was incorporated in Panama and run from The Bahamas. The fund, which helped the super-rich shield investments from UK tax, has never paid a penny of tax in over thirty years.
Cameron has been accused of failing to give a ‘clear and full account’ about his links to the fund set up by his father. At first Number 10 said that Cameron’s tax affairs were a “private matter”. Then on Tuesday a new statement "To be clear, the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds. The prime minister owns no shares.”
On Wednesday though- a slightly different story emerged. We were told that there were “no offshore trusts or funds” that Cameron or his near family would benefit from “in future”’.
What makes all this harder to take are the policies of austerity pushed on the British people by Cameron and his party.
The lives ruined by Cameron's govt demands justice re the crooked money used to give him the life of privilege he's enjoyed. #panamapapers— John Wight (@JohnWight1) April 5, 2016
Only a week or so ago, it was revealed that over 300 public libraries had been forced to close in England and Wales since 2010 because of spending cuts. These cuts- we‘re told- are made to help reduce the government deficit, but imagine how healthy the public finances would be if instead of tax-dodging and helping others to tax-dodge, multi-millionaires like the Prime Minister’s father had paid their proper contribution?
As opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn correctly stated: “This is money that’s taken from our health service, our local services.”
At a time of plenty, tax-dodging by the super-rich might lead to a shrug of the shoulders, but at a time of cuts which are having disastrous consequences on individuals and communities,
it’s enough to turn the mildest, most politically moderate person into a pitchfork-carrying revolutionary.
In Britain the #PanamaPapers revelations are likely to provide a boost for Jeremy Corbyn ahead of important local elections next month. And in America, Bernie Sanders could be the beneficiary. An article in Wednesday’s Independent newspaper in Britain argues that “The Panama Papers could hand Bernie Sanders the White House.”
“Nobody is going to be under more pressure than Hillary Clinton,” argues Matthew Turner. “For some Americans, she is the embodiment of a 'global elite;' while Bernie Sanders is its antithesis… The huge leak exposes governments across the globe willfully ignoring tax avoidance by the rich.
Although Clinton has not been linked to any malfeasance in the leak, there is a sense that she is among the elite rich, some of whose members have benefited from such schemes.”
Well, if the #PanamaPapers do help Bernie to the White House - and indeed Jeremy Corbyn to Number 10 in Britain - we can only imagine what George Soros’s reaction would be. After all this is a man who has donated $7m to a Hillary Clinton super PAC.
For all his progressive talk, the very last thing the ‘liberal’ George Soros would like to see is a return of socialistic economies in the West and across the world. He has after all spent decades helping to topple and destabilize governments which put their people before the interests of predatory global capitalists and hedge funders like himself. Is his anti-Putin obsession so great he’d risk bringing the whole system down with him?
The Panama Leaks may or may not have been part of a conspiracy against Russia (and its worth pointing out that the ICIJ head Gerard Ryle has denied this is the case, but one thing is for sure: their consequences are going to be felt across the world and not just in Iceland, where public protests have already led to the stepping aside of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsonn- after his links to an offshore company were revealed.
Let’s return to Pandora. After she had closed her box, one thing was left: Hope- and that's what we've got going for us today. Hope that we can change a system which benefits the global super-rich at the expense of everyone else.
If the #PanamaPapers do in time lead to a much fairer and more transparent global economic system, in which tax havens are closed and the 1 percent’s wealth is used to benefit the Common Weal, then it really will be three cheers for those who are releasing the documents - whoever it is who funds them and whatever agenda they might have had at the start.
Though I doubt David Cameron, right at this moment, feels the same way.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.