It has been quite a week.     It began with the Paradise Papers–here is quite a snapshot of it courtesy of the team at Transparency International:

 

This week, the Paradise Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partners, showed us how the rich and powerful are able to hide and hoard their wealth through complex and opaque financial structures.

The sheer volume of the Paradise Papers documents (13.4million in all) hints at a vast, secret parallel financial universe where the reporting requirements that the rest of us are subject to do not apply.

Public figures, such as the Queen and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, are shown to have hidden offshore investments, while companies involved include household names such as AppleNike and Uber.

You might think: “So what? This isn’t necessarily illegal.”

Well, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned.

The documents show that even the compliance manager at offshore law firm Appleby found plenty to worry about, like large amounts of money that were “definitely tainted”, and proceeds of alleged corruption infiltrating the business.

They reveal activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo by mining giant Glencore, which appears to have secured under-valued extraction licenses with the help of a powerful lobbyist that it loaned $45million to.  

The documents also reveal how the company that manages Angola’s sovereign wealth fund used this money to finance its other projects. And how Kazakhstan’s former oil minister built up a vast personal fortune obscured behind a labyrinthine network of companies held by a corporation called Meridian.

“This was possible, in part, thanks to Kazakhstan’s notorious corruption and weak rule of law,” write the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “But it was the Meridian founders’ exploitation of the international financial system that enabled them to hide their riches from the eyes of their own people.”

That’s the problem here, and that’s why we’re calling for tougher controls on the offshore financial markets.

Secrecy can lead to corruption, and the kinds of structures exposed in the Paradise Papers are the tools of the trade that the corrupt use to launder their ill-gotten gains.

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#Paradisepapers: Time to clean up the offshore financial havens 

‘Paradise Papers’ show how the rich and powerful around the world are able to avoid paying tax and keep their business dealings secret. The mechanisms they use can also benefit the corrupt, and must be made more transparent.

     Transparency International warns climate summit to demand accountability to prevent corruption

In our latest report we analyse progress made by four key multilateral climate funds: Although progress has been made to increase transparency, accountability and integrity policies, there is still more to be done.

         Corruption in the news this week Latest Stories European Union : MEPs probing ‘private’ expenses oppose transparency 
EUobserver ( 11 November, TI mention)

MEPs leading a probe into how members of the parliament spend millions of euros of taxpayers’ money opposed transparency moves to make the same funds public and accountable.

      Saudi Arabia : How the Saudi Arabia corruption crackdown will play out 
The Guardian (10 November)

On the face of it, nothing much in Saudi Arabia has changed as a result of the sweeping crackdown last weekend. But scratch the surface, and it soon becomes apparent that everything has changed for the kingdom’s business and economic elite, some of whom opposed the reform plans.

      Global : Ex-SBM executives plead guilty in U.S. to Petrobras bribe charges 
Reuters (9 November)

Two former executives at Dutch oil services company SBM Offshore NV have pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that they participated in a scheme to bribe officials at three foreign state-run oil companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras.

      Israel : Police complete fifth questioning of PM Netanyahu in corruption probes 
The Jerusalem Post (9 November)

Police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fifth time  on Thursdayover his involvement in corruption cases 1000 and 2000. In Case 1000, the “gifts affair,” it is suspected that Netanyahu accepted expensive gifts from different businessmen.

    Focus on: Paradise Papers Global : What to know about the ‘Paradise Papers’ leak 
TIME (6 November)       Global : Paradise Papers: Apple shifted billions offshore to avoid tax 
DW (7 November, TI mention)     Blog/Opinion Global : Why aren’t the streets full of protest about the Paradise Papers? 
The Guardian (10 November)       USA : Commerce Secretary offshores his ethics 
Bloomberg (6 November)

As the World was dealing with this, then there is the case of Roy Moore–a symbol of the profound challenges we have in our World as so eloquently laid out by Professor Turley:

Alabama Auditor Defends Roy Moore: “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

by jonathanturley

Murillo_immaculate_conceptionAlabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has long been controversial and I will readily admit to being one of his most vocal critics over his defiance of legal authority and extremist views.  However, he is now perfectly radioactive after allegations that he initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s.  Perhaps the strangest defense came from Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler (right) told the Washington Examiner that, if Moore did engage in pedophilia, it was “much ado about nothing.”: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” In the meantime, Moore has called his multiple accusers as people engaging in “intentional defamation.”  What is clear is someone is lying.  If Moore is telling the truth, the next step would presumably be a defamation lawsuit.  The same can be said for these four women who have now been called liars.  This is a time when a little litigation would go a long way.

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