Panama Profiles: Meet The Culprits
Pnut StaffThe Panama Papers are quickly becoming a who’s who list of the world’s most elite. As the media continues to release names from a seemingly endless treasure trove of humiliated public figures, here’s a short list of the most famous culprits and what the potential repercussions might be: Petro Poroshenko Perhaps one of the most disappointing implications in the data leak so far, Ukrainian President Poroshenko was considered one of the “good ones” in Ukraine’s long line of corrupt leaders and oligarchs. Poroshenko was a supporter of the 2004 pro-Europe, pro-democracy Orange Revolution, and won the 2014 presidential election in a landslide, promising to “prevent the inappropriate influence of private interests on the state.” His lofty ideals didn’t stop him shuffling his chocolate/candy business into an offshore entity. He claims he only did it to give others control of the company, but…he still did it. Juan Pedro Damiani, FIFA Ethics Lawyer No global tax/fraud scheme would really be complete without FIFA somehow being involved. The fact that FIFA employs “ethics lawyers” is already an endearing oxymoron but the juxtaposition between the organization and “ethics” was made even starker with allegations that Juan Pedro Damiani, a founding member of the committee, is implicated for setting up ~400 offshore entities, many of which were used to funnel the FIFA bribes that he is supposedly investigating. Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson Iceland, an island nation of ~300,000 people, briefly turned into the world’s largest hedge fund/ponzi scheme in the run up to the world’s financial crisis. When the crisis broke Iceland did something most of the world was too scared to do: it didn’t bail out the banks and put the bankers in prison. Fast forward a few years and one prime minister later and it seems they still haven’t shaken off the ghost of finance’s past. Turns out the current PM may or may not have helped bail out some bank creditors, which would be fine until you realize that he and his wife owned some bank bonds through an offshore entity. The kicker? He failed to disclose. Naturally the Icelandic people are furious. Vladimir Putin’s Squad So, Vlad isn’t *technically* on the list, but all of his friends and family are, so news outlets are going ahead and throwing him on the list. Really, it would have been embarrassing if his name didn’t appear on the list, as someone so cutting edge when it comes to corruption. How does it work? Create an offshore account linked to your best bud and quasi-private Cellist –who also happens to be your daughter’s Godfather. Funnel “loans” that will probably never be paid back through them and ta-da! Problem solved. It’s so genius it is actually kind of cool. Lionel Messi Master Footballer, 5-time Ballon d’Or winner, and idol to every soccer player under 12, Lionel Messi is currently on trial for tax evasion with his father and hopeful scapegoat, Jorge Horacio. The Panama Papers also reveal that Messi holds a 50% share of a shell company, the existence of which was unknown until now. Messi allegedly sold his “image rights” to companies based in Belize and Uruguay, allowing him to evade taxes for income related to the use of his baby face and famous name. King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Sure, he has a lot of responsibility as the King of Saudi Arabia, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the head of the House of Saud, but King Salman knows how to relax. The data leak reveals that has used money from a company in the British Virgin Islands to pay for mortgages on luxury properties in London and for a yacht he keeps parked in Marbella, Spain. The party boat has its own banquet hall and enough space to house at least 30 guests. How big a deal is all this really? To quote our favorite geriatric, this is “yuuuuuge!” Pressure on the Icelandic PM to resign is mounting and several countries are opening criminal investigations into what is going on. Tax havens are a bit like bitcoin, having one isn’t technically illegal, but a lot of people have them to do illegal stuff. Also, the leak comes at a time when inequality is at an all time high and austerity measures have hit low and middle class incomes hard. This is another example of elites bypassing governments which is bound to feed populist fires across the world.
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