Guardian Watch, latest, Russia
Comments 27

Holier Than Thou: The Guardian View on The Panama Papers

by Frank

Capture of the Guardian's totally accidentally misleading headline.

We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Leona Helmsley, American business woman and socialite 2007

The revelations contained in the Panama Papers are nothing new, except perhaps the scale of the problem. Even back in 2012 we had the tax scandal of the Barclay Bros, British media tycoons and proprietors of the Telegraph Media group, who lived the high life avoiding tax payments in the UK tax havens in the Channel Islands and also spending their time in Monaco, another tax haven.

Then in 2014 there was the case of right-wing US billionaires the Koch Bros. A leak of confidential documents expands the list of big companies seeking secret tax deals in Luxembourg, exposing tax-saving manoeuvres by American entertainment icon The Walt Disney Co., politically controversial Koch Industries Inc. and 33 other companies.

Disney and Koch Industries, a U.S.-based energy and chemical conglomerate, both created tangles of interlocking corporations in Luxembourg that may have helped them slash the taxes they pay in the U.S. and Europe, according to the documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Widespread corporate use of tax manoeuvres akin to these, in tax shelters the world over, are estimated to cost the U.S. treasury billions annually.

Additionally, there has been and ongoing series of bank malfeasance involving British and American banks:

  • Standard Charter Bank 2012 – Money Laundering
  • HSBC – laundering money for Mexican drug cartels – 2012
  • J.P. Morgan and the London Whale – 2012
  • Barclays and the Libor Scandal. 2012

…to name a few. I gave up listing further instances of currency market, precious metals market, interest rate market manipulation, as it became impossible to keep track, but for further details check out Google/Wikeapedia.

What is significant here is that these scandals all involved Anglo-American financial/banking interests. It is a matter of record that the international financial system is dominated by Anglo-American banks and financial firms, based in London and New York. And corruption and malpractice is endemic in this business. In fact, a number of US investment banks have decamped to London since the light touch regulation in the UK allowed them to do things that they couldn’t get away with on the other side of the pond. Not for nothing was the City of London referred to as the US’s financial Guantanamo.

Moreover a recent publication Gomorrah, by Roberto Saviano, an internationally acclaimed crime expert, cites the City of London as the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to him UK banks and financial services have ignored so-called “know your customer” rules designed to curb criminals’ abilities to launder the proceeds of crime, warned Mr Saviano, author of the international bestseller which exposed the workings of the Neapolitan crime organisation Camorra, said: “The British treat it as not their problem because there aren’t corpses on the street.” (The Independent, July 2015)

All par for the course in elite financial circles. But according to the Graun:

The temptation to conclude that all those names found in the papers are equivalent and rotten to the core is strong. But it is a temptation to resist: every case must be carefully judged on the specifics. David Cameron, whose father’s Blairmore investment fund is shown to have got up to all sorts of offshore antics to avoid ever paying UK tax, is not Vladimir Putin, whose cronies are documented to have amassed vast fortunes through financial engineering backed by apparent state fiat. The evidence for corruption at the Kremlin looks devastating, whereas Mr Cameron can fairly protest that the son is not responsible for the deeds of the father, especially not as he has taken some steps – such as banning the “bearer shares” that Cameron Sr’s fund long ago used – to protect the public interest.

So you see that Anglo-American finance capital which is scandal-ridden and rotten to the core, is not nearly as bad as Putin – who physiognomy is plastered over all the Guran’s front pages – maximising the demon-image. But note it was not Putin but his cronies who amassed fortunes. But the smear is enough.

My experience of eastern Europe, which has included the former Yugoslavia, East Germany, Russia (Soviet Union) Ukraine (Soviet Union and Independent 1991) led me to the conclusion that corruption is pretty well endemic in these states and societies. The outstanding instance of this took place under the rule of Boris Yeltsin and his oligarch backers, including one Boris Berezovsky – Godfather of the Kremlin – during the 1990s when the rule of law broke down.

Interestingly enough when Berezovsky fell out of favour he was granted political asylum in the UK; this in spite of his nefarious criminal activities which ‘probably’ included the murder of Paul Klebnikov, an American journalist of Russian extraction who wrote a withering critique of Mr B in his book, published in 2000, Godfather of the Kremlin. Never let it be said that Russian Mafia Dons would not get a warm welcome in the UK. This aside, it would be interesting to know by what criteria does the Graun judge Putin and his cronies to be worse than ours?

But of course this is all beside the point. What the Graun is patently trying to do is to milk this global scandal for every ounce of anti-Putin value they can extract. It is all part of the hybrid war which is going on between the west/NATO and Russia. The western media has been mobilised as part of this offensive, spewing out disinformation, propaganda and outright lies. Putin, along with those impertinent little upstarts like Assad who don’t do what they are told, are to blame for everything bad in the world. Why? Because we say so. The neo-con playbook is apparently also the Graun’s playbook.

Funny how all this has come out just after the success of the Syrian army’s success in its campaign against the jihadists. Would the Graun be that cynical – you bet they would.


27 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on wgrovedotnet and commented:

    What a shame that the Graund, once respected, is now so loathed by what were once it’s readers. It has become the propagandist neurotic, paranoid mouthpiece of right wing elitis thinking. The working class? Oh, for the Graund they are just plebeian

    Like

  2. Jeremy Stocks says

    I logged in to the Gru yesterday and was interested to note an article on Yudkin’s sugar book in 1975. Considering they hammered the Paleo diet a while back I thought it was a bit rich. Paleo wasn’t spot on but it emphasised no sugar, something the g got very very wrong.

    I commented and noticed there is no message saying I am on pre-moderation!!!!!

    Heads up.

    Like

    • Alan Moore says

      Yes…and has anyone noticed how few items are being left open for comment since all this broke?

      Out of exasperation yesterday I posted a comment on the article ‘Minister abandones plans (to let chicken producers police themselves)…’ along the lines of ‘Thank goodness we’re allowed to comment on something-are the Graun running scared of Downing Street’s or Cameron’s lawyers…or are they just shitting themselves that someone is going to drag up those tired old allegations about Guardian Group’s offshore activites-see Guido Fawkes et al…’

      Ho ho ho. Memory holed. Not published. No comment to the effect I’d been removed…nothing. I first found this site having read something about memory holes in a very carefully worded btl comment some months ago. And lo and behold it’s all true! Here I am being pre-moderated too, without any notification. So…they really are shitting themselves about one of those three things. Hmm. Do we find out which one by now trying to post each of those three points separately?!

      Like

  3. It only proves one terrible fact that the west is morally and intellectually bankrupt. The MSM and the corporate class r trying to go into full spectrum dominance. The bail out of the banking institutions in the west the various trade deals are fulfilling Mussolini’s philosophy of a modern society . The Corporate state which is the title to his book which is considered to be the manual to Fascism.The Guardian along with most MSM are all part and parcel to these full frontal push to globalisation and post modern philosophy, this philosophical paradigm is being thrust upon all of us in the west since the fall of the USSR. from Fukishamas “End of the World ” statements to Bush SR. NWO statement at the UN during the first Gulf War period. To the branding of our lives ( Levis, Coca -Cola CHristmass, Easter and womens rights. Their has been a push to destroy history and make history. He who forgets his past will never have a future. Hence the question if ur average citizen in the west was aware or would have read Mussolini’s book do you think that the western oligarchs would be able to push their agenda off full spectrum dominance.The west push the historical bogus that it was them who defeated fascism when in reality it was the red army and the Chinese communist who really sacrificed multiple millions of lives in the eastern fronts of europe and the eastern fronts of asia pushing back the Germans and the Japanese. Rough estimate is close to 50 million people perished. Then let us not forget the USA dropping two nuclear bombs on the Japanese. The later should have brought Nurenbourg style trials agianst those evil politicos and military aparatchiks to trial but victor goes the spoils of war. The Ashkanazi-Khazarian mobsters along with their western fractional banking system which has brought the capatolist western economic system to the point of thermal nuclear meltdown. Which brings me to the old phrase ” Yesterdays news gets wrapped in todays fish” Sad but true . We look at the modern era and its Colonial past one can see that it is not all that different to our present Colonial system the only difference is that the regal system has been replaced with Oligarchs without titles only funny money. Bring on the helicopter money for it will only fuel the eventual demise of this rigged financial system and further the western own political demise. , deep rooted cancer in western humanity.

    Like

  4. This is utter nonsense. Putin’s man in the Ukraine was Viktor Yanukovych, a thief who lived in a Versailles like palace. He looked the other way as Yanukovych robbed the country blind just as long as he was in a trade bloc that favored Russian oil companies. He was equally disposed to a Ukrainian nationalist like Yulia Tymoshenko who made the same kind of deals while dipping her fingers into the national treasury. When Ukraine was a piggy bank for Russian state oil companies, that was fine and dandy for Putin. He even once called Tymoshenko, the supposed tool of George Soros and the NED, his favorite politician in Ukraine–the only one with “balls” as he put it. Is there any surprise that the current president of Ukraine showed up in the Panama papers or that Putin’s best friend did? You people have an amazing tendency to put a plus where the Guardian puts a minus and vice versa. This kind of autopilot politics is a sign of laziness.

    Like

    • You say Putin “looked the other way” while Yanukovych “looted” Ukraine….I would ask you: What should Putin have done?

      Yanukovych was elected and never convicted of any crimes.

      Further – to repeat a question you ignored the last time we talked – do you have a problem with us pointing out media hypocrisy? Or dishonesty?

      The initial focus of the press being Assad and Putin was laughable, and dishonest reporting. We pointed that out. I fail to see how you could have a problem with this.

      Like

      • You ask what Putin should have done? The same thing that Lenin asked the Communists to do in 1922 just before his death–to respect the nation that he said was to Russia as Ireland was to the British. I understand that you folks operate an “anti-imperialist” website and could be bothered less with the Marxist analysis of Soviet treatment of the Tatars, Georgians, Chechens, et al but if you are ever curious about what our position is as Marxists, you should look at this: https://louisproyect.org/2014/04/20/lenins-party-great-russian-chauvinism-and-the-betrayal-of-ukrainian-national-aspirations/

        Like

        • Ok. That was an interesting diversion.

          Now, would you mind answering the question? What should Putin have done to control Yanukovych’s “looting”?

          Like

          • I don’t get your question at all. Yanukovych’s power base was in the sections of the country that had traditionally been closely linked to Russia. After all, Russia did in the eastern part of the country exactly what England did in Ireland. As I told you, that’s Lenin’s analysis–not mine.

            Yanukovych only won the elections in 2010 because the last President–a “nationalist”–was viewed as corrupt just as the current nationalist president is (his name showed up in the Panama Papers.) The Ukraine has been a virtual colony of Russia since the days of Catherine the Great. I can’t give you the detail on this because it would take too much time and effort. If you were half the Marxist that you are an “anti-imperialist”, you’d take the trouble to track down what Ukrainian Marxists have written. I furnished you a link to one article that you presumably ignored because it was outside your comfort zone. Here is another:

            https://louisproyect.org/2014/05/12/chris-fords-introduction-to-ivan-maistrenkos-borotbism/

            I know all this stuff is of little interest to you since it has a Marxist orientation but if you ever feel tempted to step beyond the narrow constraints of Moon of Alabama, Global Research, Inforwars, and other websites that look at the world as a geopolitical chess game, you might find it beneficial.

            Like

            • Those who own and run the world view it as a geopolitical chess game. They have to have some order, or frame of reference, in order to be able to function, after all. And knowing that, we are better off.

              That’s all it is. It’s just individuals who have every intention of being rotten – pirates, dictators, false to agreements (which is how you get ahead of and on top of others in this world) – figuring out how to organize their rapine, which usually involves joining forces with other pirates, requiring that frame of reference. You can’t cooperate and coordinate if you can’t communicate. The frame is the language. Zbig’s grand chessboard and Strauss’s nonsensical, but clearly stated nonsense, contribute to the vocabulary.

              Like

            • So you are just straight incapable of having a linear conversation? Or answering a direct question?

              Do you NOT see the world as a geo-political chess game?

              Like

        • Jen says

          Where’s your evidence that Yanukovych or his Party of the Regions was answerable to Putin? If you cannot demonstrate that Yanukovych was in any way controlled by Moscow or that his election as President of Ukraine in 2010 was anything other than legal, you have no business casting slurs or claiming any sort of moral high ground.

          Liked by 1 person

    • So Yanukovich was ‘Putins’ man, yes?

      Herewith history lesson.

      Victor Yanukovich was elected President of Ukraine in 2010 narrowly defeating Yulia Tymoshenko winning 49% of votes cast to Tymoshenko’s 45%. The Presidential term of Office lasted for 5 years. Yanukovich’s party, the Party of the Regions, together with its coalition partner the Ukrainian Communist Party, had the majority in the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada Verkhovna, with Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister.
      EU membership was one of the more salient issues during this time, and served as the trigger for subsequently upheavals. Negotiations for Ukraine’s initial stage of eventual EU membership – the Association Agreement – had been ongoing since 2011, with both Yakunovich and Azarov both favourably disposed; although the Communist party was not. This fact did not go down well in Moscow and Azarov attempted to assuage Russian anxieties by urging Russia to ‘’accept the reality of Ukraine signing the EU agreement.’ The commitment of Yanukovich was eventually to be tested to destruction since he was being pulled in two directions, by Russia on the one hand, and the EU on the other. For their part the Russians were offering the Ukraine a $15 billion loan, a discount on gas prices and membership of the customs union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus (the EEU – Eurasian Economic Union). But the EU was having none of it: President of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated that the EU will not ‘’tolerate the veto of a third country’’(Russia) in their negotiations on closer integration with Ukraine. Yanukovich was therefore being forced into a choice which would certainly anger one of the powerful interested parties on Ukraine’s borders. Yanukovich was invited to sign the EU Association Agreement, but there were – as always – a number of conditions. The most significant which was an IMF loan. These conditions were very much in the condition of IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs, the scourge of the developing world) and the estimated overall costs to the Ukraine was estimated at a cool $160 billion, way beyond Ukraine’s ability to pay. This was enough to scupper the proposed EU deal, PM Azarov stating that ‘’the issue that blocked the signature were the conditions proposed by the IMF loan which would require large budget cuts and a 40% increase in gas bills.
      This for a country already verging on bankruptcy. In store for the Ukraine was the usual privatisation-deregulation-liberalisation package which has wrought devastation in those countries which have agreed to those ‘reforms’ or the ‘Greek Medicine’ if you will.
      Yaunkovich therefore suspended signing of the Association Argeement and took the Russian deal, which seemed a perfectly understandable business decision. Then off course the whole Maidan furore kicked off with what have been tragic consequences for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Readers here who might want to know more about the New Cold War could do worse than visit Roger Annis’s excellent website, “The New Cold War: Ukraine And Beyond.” (https://newcoldwar.org/)

        *The ‘remember’ check box doesn’t work. I keep having to enter my info, although I’ve checked that box.

        Like

  5. Seamus Padraig says

    “Funny how all this has come out just after the success of the Syrian army’s success in its campaign against the jihadists. Would the Graun be that cynical – you bet they would.”

    And notice that hardly anyone’s talking about Assange or Snowden anymore! And what about that Dutch referendum on the EU’s agreement with Ukraine? Crickets …

    Like

  6. So happy to have found this site! The Guardian has been breaking the trust that should exist between truth-teller and reader for a sickeningly long time. So I am forever searching the internet for sources that feel authentic. I have developed an instinctual, sniffer-dog response to the presence of propaganda-poisoned journalism. I think many people have, judging by the comments columns in the mainstream political news. One of my current litmus tests is: anything pushing anti-Putin talking points = neocon warmongering lies.

    Like

  7. Thanks for this blog post regarding the Panama Papers; I really enjoyed it and am definitely recommending this blog to my friends and family. I’m a 15 year old with a blog on finance and economics at shreysfinanceblog.com, and would really appreciate it if you could read and comment on some of my articles, and perhaps follow, reblog and share some of my posts on social media. Thanks again for this fantastic post.

    Like

.....................

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s