Hidden Victims Of War And Trafficking Revealed By Panama Papers
Panama Papers: An Incomplete List Of Perpetrators And Unseen List Of Victims
The Panama Papers rattled the world when they were released on Sunday. A massive leak of millions of documents exposed offshore financial records for clients around the globe seeking to hide bank accounts from domestic eyes. The Panama Papers now under the international spotlight have so far revealed that over 140 politicians from around the world have been involved with the Panamanian company firm Mossack Fonseca and networks of secret offshore deals that may have helped those involved to build fortunes.
Yet, the importance of the Panama Papers not only relies on the exposure of possible crime and corruption by world leaders, politicians, monarchs, and their friends and families. Tax havens, especially Panama, are well-known around the world. The offshore accounts are legal, but the Panama Papers have revealed that the legal accounts may be used for illegal activities, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and criminal activity. In addition, there are numerous victims behind these offshore deals. As stated by Al Jazeera,
“In a world of extreme inequality and massive social problems such as ours, the economic, social, and political effects of tax avoidance due to the existence of tax havens are enormous.”
While workers and small to medium size business keep paying their tax obligations, world leaders, celebrities and business executives continue to pay less and less. Imagine how different many global issues would be without this money hidden away, but reinvested in the public. Think of the inequality, poverty, the refugee crisis, education, health, etc. TheInternational Consortium of Investigative Journals or ICIJ (who closely worked with The Guardian, BBC and other newspapers in the exposure of the documents) also made sure to explain how these offshore deals affect others.
For example, it is known how barrel bombs and missiles have been dropped on civilian neighborhoods killing thousands of innocent lives in Syria. However, while the war crimes have been documented, the offshore finance behind these crimes has not. According to the Panama Papers, offshore companies have been accused of supplying fuel for jets slaughtering civilians in the Syrian civil war. And although many countries like the United Stated or the United Kingdom have called for bans on these companies, it is now known that
The 4 minute video done by ICIJ and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting use alleged real life examples to explain the impact of these deals. In Russia, for example, it is said that businessmen kidnap girls and make them sex slaves whom they will later sell to clients; one of the ringleaders is believed to have been a client of Mossack Fonseca. The company allegedly turned a blind eye to evidence of underage human trafficking victims. In Uganda, a country that faced a brutal and bloody dictatorship that has left deep scars in the society, and considered one of the poorest countries in the world, a company was helped to avoid 400 million in taxes with simple paperwork. The Guardian has also recently claimed that a British banker, Nigel Cowie, helped the North Korean regime to sell arms and expand its nuclear weapons program. The US sanctioned Daedong Credit Bank, the first foreign bank in North Korea headed by Cowie.
Yet two questions remain: The first one is why US officials have not made any public declaration on the Panama Papers. The second is why there aren’t any US names outed yet in the Panama Papers.
Could the revelations actually be hiding something bigger? Why have stories so far revolved mainly around Russian President Vladimir Putin, or leaders of countries like Ukraine, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and North Korea? Perhaps understandable, as Craig Murray has stated, if we considered the US-based ICIJ is actually funded and organized by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity, including funds from Ford Foundation, Carnegie Endowment, Rockefeller Family Fund, W K Kellogg Foundation and Open Society Foundation.
The US Justice Department said it is reviewing the documents and reports, looking for any US corruption or wrongdoing. It seems like that some in the US are holding their breath. And for good reason, as Mathew Ingram, senior writer at Fortune magazine, tweeted,
You have to wonder what will come out next. Does America have a role in the Panama Papers and who is involved? Are American women and children being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves or labor slaves? We will find out.