Panama Papers Are About Government Corruption, Not ‘Tax Evasion’

 Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

Governments will seek to focus on general tax evasion charges to distract from evidence of corruption by public officials.

 writes: While contemporary governments have carved out for themselves significant authority in demanding citizens of their countries do specific things with their money, it doesn’t change the principle of self-ownership. Were private citizens to follow their money off-shore in the wake of this, would their governments demand to control their flight as well as their capital’s? It’s not just theoretical.

“A person’s money belongs to them, not the government, just as their bodies and their freedoms do.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has pushed the idea of seizing the passports of citizens who have too many interests overseas. Maybe he ought to support Donald Trump building a big wall after all—at least that’d be consistent and honest. Capital controls are restrictions of free movement much like walls are.

The euro tumbled to a nine-year low Monday as new worries flared over Greece, where a woman in Athens passed a currency-changing business. Associated Press

“The ‘Panama Papers’ are the largest leak in world history, revealing millions of documents related to the offshore accounts of politicians, former politicians, and billionaires around the world.”

Despite much of the media’s focus on tax evasion as the primary theme of the Panama Papers story, which embarrassed governments are happy to adopt as the primary theme as well, the question is one of official corruption.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) itself, which first published the data, says it reveals the holdings of “drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders–and wrongdoing galore.”

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Yet the numbers they offer tell a different story. According to ICIJ, 214,000 entities are described in the Panama Papers. They include the off-shore assets of 140 politicians and other public figures (including 12 current or former heads of state or government), as well as 33 people and companies that were “blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.” Yet The Economist counts 33 Forbes list billionaires to the 140 politicians in the Panama Papers. Read the rest of this entry »


Reported Bitcoin ‘Founder’ Craig Wright’s Home Raided by Australian Police

Police have raided the home of an Australian tech entrepreneur identified by two US publications as one of the early developers of the digital currency bitcoin.

On Wednesday afternoon, police gained entry to a home belonging to Craig Wright, who had hours earlier been identified in investigations by Gizmodo and Wired, based on leaked transcripts of legal interviews and files. Both publications have indicated that they believe Wright to have been involved in the creation of the cryptocurrency.

Other people who say they knew Wright have expressed strong doubts about his alleged role, with some saying privately they believe the publications have been the victims of an elaborate hoax.

More than 10 police personnel arrived at the house in the Sydney suburb of Gordon at about 1.30pm. Two police staff wearing white gloves could be seen from the street searching the cupboards and surfaces of the garage. At least three more were seen from the front door.

The Australian Federal police said in a statement that the raids were not related to the bitcoin claims. “The AFP can confirm it has conducted search warrants to assist the Australian Taxation Office at a residence in Gordon and a business premises in Ryde, Sydney. This matter is unrelated to recent media reporting regarding the digital currency bitcoin.”

One officer told Reuters they were “clearing the house”. Reuters reporter Jane Wardell said Wright’s offices were also being raided.

The house was the only one on the street with a rubbish bin still outside, six days after the weekly Thursday collection, and the letterbox was full, indicating that the house may have been empty recently.

Garry Hayres, the owner of the property, now based in Maroochydore, Queensland, told Guardian Australia that Wright and his wife Ramona Watts had leased the property in November 2012.

He only met Watts, “a lovely lady”, but said the couple were “typical tenants. They didn’t look after the place fantastically, but it wasn’t their home. They didn’t seem bad.”

He said they switched to from a full lease to month-by-month about six months ago, before informing him in the first week of December of their intention to leave.

Wright told him they were moving to London; he would go first, then Watts would follow. Read the rest of this entry »


Former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison

Michael-Grimm

Former Staten Island rep pleaded guilty to tax fraud last year

Rebecca Davis O’Brien reports: Former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who pleaded guilty last year to tax fraud, was sentenced Friday to eight months in prison and one year of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen issued the sentence in federal court in Brooklyn Friday morning. Mr. Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, is scheduled to surrender Sept. 10.

Mr. Grimm was charged in April 2014 in a 20-count indictment that alleged he schemed to hide more than $1 million in earnings and employees’ wages at a Manhattan restaurant he ran before becoming a congressman in 2011. The charges stemmed from a probe into Mr. Grimm’s campaign financing.

In December, Mr. Grimm admitted that he had underreported to federal and state tax authorities what the restaurant, Healthalicious, earned between 2007 and 2010, court records show. He also admitted using a portion of the underreported receipts to pay employees off the books. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History, October 10th 1973: Vice President Spiro Agnew Resigns

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“In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.”

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“I apologize for lying to you. I promise I won’t deceive you except in matters of this sort.”

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todayinhistory:

October 10th 1973: Agnew resigns

On this day in 1973 the Vice President of the United States Spiro Agnew resigned. Agnew served under President Richard Nixon until he was formally charged with bribery and income tax evasion. Agnew was the second Vice President in history to resign from office after John C. Calhoun in 1832. He was replaced by Gerald Ford, who later became President upon Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal. Thus Ford is the only American President to have not been elected either Vice-President or President.

Pundit From Another Planet (via blondesforreagan)