Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - of Panama

After leaked files from offshore firm Mossack Fonseca expose the secret stashes of the rich and powerful, Troublemaker roots through for the good stuff...

Issue No. 2498

Calm down dear - its only tax avoidance

Calm down dear - it's only tax avoidance (Pic:

David Cameron's dad ran tax scam

An offshore fund run by David Cameron’s dad paid zero tax in Britain for over 30 years.

In 2013 David Cameron urged Britain’s overseas territories—including the British Virgin Islands—to work with him to “get our own houses in order”.

He could have looked no further than his late father to see where to start.

Ian Cameron was a stockbroker and multimillionaire. He was a Mossack Fonseca client who used the law firm to shield his investment fund, Blairmore Holdings, Inc., from paying tax in Britain.

The fund’s name came from Blairmore House, his family’s plush ancestral country estate.

Mossack Fonseca registered the investment fund in Panama even though many of its key investors were British. Ian Cameron controlled the fund from its birth in 1982 until his death in 2010.

A prospectus for investors said the fund “should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for United Kingdom taxation purposes”.

The fund did this by using untraceable certificates of ownership known as “bearer shares” and by employing “nominee” company officers based in the Bahamas, the law firm’s leaked records show. This meant investors did not have to appear on a register.

When asked if any family money was invested in the fund a Downing Street spokeswoman said, “That is a private matter.” Three Tory peers are mentioned in the documents as having used tax havens. They are ex-minister Michael Mates, former party donor Lord Ashcroft and baroness Pamela Sharples.

Backdated files to hide dodgy directors

In 2005 a tour boat called the Ethan Allen sank in New York’s Lake George, drowning 20 elderly tourists.

After the survivors and families of the dead sued, they learned the tour company had no insurance because fraudsters had sold it a fake policy.

Malchus Irvin Boncamper is an accountant on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. He pleaded guilty in a US court in 2011 to helping the con artists launder the proceeds of their frauds.

This created a problem for Mossack Fonseca, because Boncamper had served as the front man —a “nominee” director —for 30 companies created by the law firm.

It told its offices to replace Boncamper as director of the companies —and to backdate the records in a way that made it appear the changes had taken place, in some cases, a decade earlier.

Yachts for dictators, kings and politicians

The leaked documents reveal the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders.

Russian president Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as £1.5 billion through banks and shadow companies.

The hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials around the world are coming to light.

The files identified 58 family members and associates of prime ministers, presidents or kings.

For example, the children of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif owned London real estate through shell companies. Ex-Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak used the firm.

As the Institute of Investigative journalism point out, it “helped two kings take to the sea on luxury yachts”.

Brink's-Mat gold robbers laundered

Gordon Parry laundered money for the Brink’s-Mat robbers. Sixteen months after the robbery Mossack Fonseca set up a Panama shell company called Feberion Inc.

Jurgen Mossack was one the company’s three “nominee” directors.

An internal memo written by Mossack shows he was aware in 1986 that the company was “apparently involved in the management of money from the famous theft from Brink’s-Mat in London”.

Records from 1987 make it clear that Parry was behind Feberion.

The law firm took steps that prevented police from gaining control of the company.

Nine in ten firms prefer offshore

Oxfam reviewed data on more than 200 companies, which included the 100 largest firms in the world and the World Economic Forum’s strategic partners.

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 around £70 billion a year.

Some 8 percent of individual financial wealth also sits offshore.

Niue - created by tax dodgers

The Pacific island of Niue sought Mossack Fonseca’s help. The firm wrote the laws for the islands and set the place up as a tax haven.

Over half of the Niue government’s annual budget came from the deal.

In 2005, the island decided to shut down the industry after allegations of rampant money laundering. Mossack Fonseca moved the companies to Samoa.

Offshore firms love the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are home to around 40 percent of the world’s offshore companies.

Of the companies that appear in Mossack Fonseca’s files, one out of every two companies—more than 113,000—were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Some 551 banks were involved in the schemes.

Faulty firm - Mossack Fonseca

The firm is one of the world’s top creators of shell companies—corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets

Leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories


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