panama

Panama City – a major haven for the world’s wealth

In early April 100 newspapers went public on the information that they had obtained from the Panama Papers.  A massive leak detailing the corrupt dealings of the world’s elite from several countries including Russia, China, Britain and Nigeria with Mossack Fonseca an investment firm registered in Panama

The Panama Papers revealed the clients of just one of the world’s top tax dodging offshore law firms. They include 12 former and serving heads of state and more than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians. Also mentioned are the brother-in-law of China’s President Xi Jinping; Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko; Argentina President Mauricio Macri; the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron and three of the four children of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The prime minister of Iceland resigned. An offshore fund run by David Cameron’s dad paid zero tax in Britain for over 30 years. Many of the Tax Havens are still British territories including the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Oxfam reviewed data on more than 200 companies, which included the 100 largest firms in the world. They found evidence that nine out of ten of them have a presence in at least one tax haven.

The International Monetary Fund said corporate investment in tax havens increased by almost four times between 2000 and 2014. It is estimated that tax dodging by multinational firms costs developing countries, including Nigeria, around £70 billion a year.

Tax Havens have helped the world’s richest people become even richer.  Earlier this year Oxfam estimated that the poorest half of the world only had as much wealth as the richest 62 people.

Almost a third of rich Africans’ wealth – a total of $500bn – is held offshore in tax havens. It is estimated that this costs African countries $14bn a year in lost tax revenues. This is enough money to pay for healthcare that could save the lives of 4 million children and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.  It is also about half the Federal budget of Nigeria.

Rich Nigerians, including Senate President Bukola Saraki, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, and cement magnate Aliko Dangote, were implicated in the Panama Papers.

The Panama Papers revealed that former Senate President David Mark was involved in running eight companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Mr. Mark’s ex-wife was also implicated in the report for owning shell accounts.

But in Nigeria the government have said little or nothing about the leak.  Buhari has called for an end to corruption, but perhaps this does not extend to activities that the rich elite across the world are involved in? This is however one more reason why working class-people must revolt to kick out the corrupt bosses ruling our country and build a better society. Capitalism breeds corruption. Working class democratic management and control of material and financial resources is needed to banish such shady acts as those revealed in the Panama Papers.

by Lionel Akpoyivo and Drew Povey