Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Panana luxury boats Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The War on Secrecy

What do the recently released Panama Papers, ExxonMobil, and a Canadian mining company operating in Guatemala have in common? They are all cases in which powerful individuals and organizations tried – and failed – to obfuscate, deceive, or hide behind a front.

LONDON – What do the recently released Panama papers, ExxonMobil, and a Canadian mining company operating in Guatemala have in common? They are all cases in which powerful individuals and organizations tried to obfuscate, deceive, or hide behind a front. And they are all cases in which that effort didn’t work.

The global uproar triggered by the Panama Papers – 11.5 million files taken, apparently by computer hackers, from the world’s fourth-largest offshore law firm, Panama’s Mossack Fonseca – is likely to continue for some time. The files’ release has revealed the extreme, and sometimes costly, lengths that individuals go to hide their assets and avoid taxation. What has been uncovered thus far ranges from legal but ethically suspect use of tax loopholes to efforts to stash or launder money gained through corruption or other illegal activities.

The reaction has been swift, harsh, and almost universally excoriating. Already, the prime minister of Iceland has been forced to resign, after it was revealed that he held stakes in offshore companies with his wife. Relatives of senior Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, as well as members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, have been implicated as well.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/91wqpq9;
  1. bildt70_SAUL LOEBAFP via Getty Images_trumpukrainezelensky Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

    Impeachment and the Wider World

    Carl Bildt

    As with the proceedings against former US Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump is ultimately a domestic political issue that will be decided in the US Congress. But, unlike those earlier cases, the Ukraine scandal threatens to jam up the entire machinery of US foreign policy.

    0
  2. krueger21_trumpamericamediocre

    Making America Mediocre

    Anne O. Krueger

    America owes its economic strength to its private sector, which has long benefited from an absence of undue influence by politicians and the state. But under US President Donald Trump's administration, discretionary decisions by policymakers are increasingly giving some companies advantages over others.

    0