What a year it is for politics. What a year to be alive. Forget the Panama Papers (even though it was the biggest data leak to ever occur), it is time for the Paradise papers to cause outrage and short lived shock – the second biggest data leak at 1.4TB. Dubbed as the “secrets of the global elite”, you can expect anger, controversy and more anger.
On November 5, news broke out of some newspapers naming and shaming an insane amount of ‘elite’ people causing havoc with their money. The information – 21 leaks to be specific – was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper obtained close to 13.4 million documents. Now, that is an impressive number of documents. Imagine, all that dirt on individuals – from the Queen to *heart eyes* Trudeau!
Appleby is the company at the centre of the leaks – a law firm that helps corporations and high-net-worth individuals set up and register companies in offshore jurisdictions. The work that Appleby do is legal. But how moral is it? That is the question being thrown around. Many people in Britain and around the world are struggling to make ends meet, we get chased up about overdue tax in the £100s – yet these high-profile people can evade tax in the tens of millions. How is that fair?
According to the Boston Consulting Group, the amount of money within these papers is around $10 trillion. That is a sum of money I would like to get my hands on. Companies like Nike, Apple, Uber and Facebook were named, once again.
Questions were asked about who really owns Everton FC. Premier league rules may have been broken and this is another scandal which will shake the world of football. As if we don’t already have enough going on. Premier League rules state that an individual who owns a stake of 10% or more in one club cannot hold a single share in another, to avoid any conflict of interest.
The Isle of Man tax shortcut was listed as it is commonly used with sports stars and celebs – Lewis Hamilton was named in the papers regarding his private jet. Bono was name dropped, as well as Mrs Brown’s Boys stars! Is nothing sacred anymore?
Leading economist Gabriel Zucman said “Tax havens are one of the key engines of the rise in global inequality,” he said. “As inequality rises, offshore tax evasion is becoming an elite sport.”
Countries have been named in the papers and a lot of them are not a surprise. Pakistan is named and shamed, India, USA, Canada, Syria, Saudi, Queen Noor of Jordan. The list really is endless.
The problem lies within the leaks. What is going to be done about these tax evasions? Nothing, because these are the big boys and girls who run the game. This is capitalism at its finest and you can’t argue otherwise. Let us look at an example from October, in a similar light. What is being done about the Race disparity audit from October? Have you heard anything about it since then? I, for one, haven’t and I have no doubt that it will stay that way.
This spectacular work of over 380 journalists, who have dedicated their time to serving the interests of the public. This is true watchdog journalism right here! The journalists are putting their life on the line for these leaks to come out. We can all appreciate that.
What I want to know is, why are some people genuinely surprised? We get reminded of the tax evasion these well-known politicians, companies, TNCs, participate in – so why the surprise?
I need to tell you, that you cannot be surprised. You shouldn’t be surprised. Leaks will always be part of our existence and have come with the power of the world wide web. The level of interconnectedness and technology we have holds no barriers, and no one can hide. No one is safe.
It will be interesting to see what countries act and who decide to sit back and watch the circus. There will be many developments in the wake of these papers and it won’t be over any time soon. Keep your eyes and ears peeled, everybody!
Let’s see what new revelations come out within the next few days and what it means for the elite.
The links for the English version of the papers – the proof is in black and white, literally: