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A Second Round of Panama Papers Coverage

The first head to roll over the Panama Papers is literally the head of a government as Iceland’s Prime Minister resigns.

Another head- this time the head of FIFA- has been dragged through this Panama paper canal. His role is under scrutiny as the papers reveal the murky world of rights trading for major football competitions such as the Champions League and the UEFA Cup.

This writer sees the Panama Papers as a story of government corruption rather than tax evasion. Politicians like the Icelandic PM were basically trying to hide their conflicts of interest (the PM had interests in failed Icelandic banks that his office was responsible for overseeing) by using offshore companies.

Around 500 Indians, including bollywood stars, are named in the Panama papers. However, those alleged to be tax evaders could avoid heavy penalties through a quirk of Indian law that prevents tax authorities from sharing certain information with prosecutors.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s family features in the Panama papers, but the Egyptian government seems determined that these revelations not disturb the ‘reconciliation process with Mubarak regime figures’. According to the article, many worry that reconciliation in return for repatriating illicit wealth may encourage others who are mired in graft to continue to flout the law. But the question  has to be asked: do prosecutions really deter others from corruption?

In the last round up, I joked about Panama’s rising star as the world laundromat- apparently some Panamanians are defensive about this and see the Panama papers scandal as the result of ‘jealousy’ by 1st world financial rivals. Certainly even Kenyans may be envious of a country that averaged 8.5% yearly GDP growth over a decade. Panama achieved this fete, allegedly due to the flood of dodgy funds from elsewhere. In other words the Panamanian economy more than doubled in size during that time. Another revelation is that the Panamanian President is close to one of the partners of Mossack Fonseca, Raul Fonseca. So don’t expect any harsh punishments for this now-infamous law firm just yet.

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