Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Panama Papers: the strange American lack – The Obs

Surreal. This Tuesday, March 29, Blake Schmidt, Bloomberg reporter, interviewed for four hours Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, both lawyers at the heart of the scandal. “Bloomberg News” announced the article published today, “was not aware of the leak [Panama Papers, Ed] when the interview took place …”

Surreal. Sunday, April 3, the “New York Times” and reacts limply late revelations, ending not publish an article in the evening he did not highlights on its “home page”. Astonishment eventually became deafening to the point that the “public editor” of the “Times” relayed Tuesday “perfectly reasonable question” drives the Assistant Managing Editor: Why? His answer:.

“We did not know that these documents were available and being analyzed”

year of work, 400 journalists from 75 countries involved, and the first newspaper in the world is not aware …

Surreal. Following the revelations, everything spokesman for the White House is saying is that his country a “leading advocate” (repeated six times!) Of “transparency in the international financial system.” This, while “the United States is the new favorite tax haven in the world”, as indicated by the title of a recent article in Bloomberg, and that “it is easier to create a shell company in the US than in the rest of the world “, as confirmed by a study by three academics who tested the creation of such societies in 182 countries …

” major newspapers “abstained

The strange American failure in this global scandal two dimensions. The first is media: the “New York Times”, “Washington Post”, the “Wall Street Journal” and Bloomberg were not associated with the work of LCij, the consortium of journalists who coordinated the survey on 11.5 million documents. The only American media involved, some of which are also excellent, do not have the same notoriety as these four giants: these daily chain McClatchy Newspapers, the Latin network Univision and its online site Fusion, which produced a remarkable job on this issue.

one hypothesis would be that the “major newspapers” have decided to abstain, given the lack of famous American names involved. First, it is not yet certain, many more revelations are expected in the days and weeks to come; then it’s hard to imagine the major US newspapers, which have much investigated tax evasion in recent years, decline to participate in a global survey of this magnitude.

Recall that it was the Vice site, based in Brooklyn, which in December 2014 had released the first substantive investigation Mossack Fonseca, “the firm who works with oligarchs , money launderers and dictators. ” And Washington, Democratic Senator Carl Levin has multiplied accusers reports, very thorough, on tax evasion. According to one report, the shortfall rises it generates each year to the United States at $ 150 billion.

most probable hypothesis: ICIJ dismissed purposely big stars of the American press, who are also not part of the consortium. Marina Walker, deputy director of the consortium, told “Fortune” as the opening of a media collaboration was an essential criterion for being selected, each partner being required to share any significant discovery with all other participants. Some newspapers are less likely than others to share, she said.

Another explanation is that the “parent” of the consortium, the Center for Public Integrity, did not want the “New York Times” or “Post” take all coverage and make them pass the work ICIJ in the background.

risky gamble. The US media tend to follow the tone set by the “Times”, as we saw with the Iraq war: McClatchy items of very critical and very different from the “Times” had passed largely unnoticed. But times have changed thanks to the involvement of major newspapers from other countries, including Europe, the “Panama Papers” had all the impact they deserved and the initial discretion of the “Times” turns today ‘ hui against the daily.

The hypocrisy of Washington

The other drawback, more seriously, for not having invited the “first violin” of the American press is that it offered perfect cover to all followers (Russian, mostly) conspiracy theories: it is a set-up Americans!

remains the other big question: why so few American names they appear in these documents? The explanation is unfortunately simple: the United States have what it takes, at home, on-shell companies controlling other companies, all in total anonymity. A journalist of “Fusion” has managed to create a company in Delaware, “She Sells Sea Shells” ( “She sells shells”), the name of his cat Suki! As for Mossack Fonseca, it has a subsidiary in Nevada, one of the most lenient states in the matter (with Wyoming and Delaware), which does not demand to know the identity of the person making the society. The subsidiary in question may make US companies ‘offshore’ … even on the floor of the United States.

As regards individuals, two factors work against the opening of a Panamanian account. First, the US authorities have considerably tightened regulations on bank accounts of Americans abroad, requiring, on pain of severe penalties, that they are reported to the IRS in excess of $ 10,000.

Next, the taxation of large incomes and investment income is much less severe than in other foreign countries, thus justifying less recourse to tax evasion for individuals. An example: in inheritance, a couple does not pay a cent inheritance tax up to a threshold of $ 10.9 million

Rest, everything. likewise incredible hypocrisy in what the spokesman for the White House. His country was not damn to pass a law requiring US banks to collect and communicate information to other countries in exchange for reciprocity, and he refused to adopt the rules established in 2014 by the OECD. What about Panama, countries more sensitive it can to the American influence … It continues to be “the last, the ultimate tax haven” to use the OECD word. Without preventing Washington from sleeping.


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