Monday Headlines: Panama Papers Present Chance For Anti-Corruption Efforts
On Sunday, almost 100 different media outlets published millions of documents, known as the Panama Papers, which disclose previously secret financial holdings of 12 current and former world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Putin has attributed the leaks to “Putinphobia,” the documents and information carried within will reverberate for weeks and months to come.
According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Munich-based newspaper that obtained the trove of documents more than a year ago from an anonymous source tied to Mossack Fonseca, the “Panama Papers” include approximately 11.5 million documents.
According to a CNBC review, here are some of the details:
- Vladimir Putin’s inner circle appears to control about $2 billion worth of offshore assets.
- The Prime Minister of Iceland secretly owned the debt of failed Icelandic banks while he was involved in political negotiations over their fate.
- The family of Pakistan’s prime minister owns millions of dollars worth of real estate via offshore accounts.
- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to sell his Ukrainian business interests during his campaign, but appears instead to have transferred them to an offshore company he controls.
Where the release of top-secret intelligence files by former National Security Agency staffer Edward Snowden has detrimental impacts on security efforts, the Panama Papers could present the international community with an excellent opportunity to enact measures to reform, says Daniel Hough in an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor.
Hough says British Prime Minister David Cameron can build on the remarks he made in 2013 criticizing offshore tax havens by taking real action.
“Given both the size of the UK’s financial services sector and the fact that many of the tax havens that the likes of Mossack Fonseca use fall under UK jurisdiction, the UK government has an opportunity to push others in to a corner and make a difference,” he writes.
Cameron has called for an international anti-corruption summit in London in May.
Inaction Carries As Much Risk As Reckless Intervention
On both sides of the political aisle, it seems as most of the presidential candidates have been fighting either over who was most opposed to past wars (Iraq war) or how they would avoid using military in the future. GOP front-runner frequently frames foreign policy debates in monetary terms – Japan must pay more or the US will not protect them; NATO countries need to pay more for US to remain part of the organization; it costs too much to play an active role in the world. Echoes of Trump can be heard in the speeches of Bernie Sanders.
The anti-interventionist posturing reflects the mood of the public, but that could be as dangerous as a policy of running roughshod over foreign countries, says human rights leader Gary Kasparov.
“Inaction can fracture alliances. Inaction can empower dictators and provoke terrorists and enflame regional conflicts. Inaction can slaughter innocent people and create millions of refugees. We have the horrific proof in Syria, where Barack Obama’s infamous ‘red line’ has been painted over in blood,” writes the head of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation.
Kasparov is clear. There is a middle ground between the two sides that showcases American leadership in the context of a strong set of alliances and international organizations.
“A robust American foreign policy depends on constantly reinforcing alliances, on deterring dictators and protecting their victims, and on targeting terrorists and their supporters at the source. It requires institutions that will promote democracy and liberty and pressure friends and foes alike to adopt these values. It must be a strategy that will last for decades, not change with the wind. You can’t be America First unless you have a global strategy that is built to last,” he concludes.