The Panama Papers revealed off-shore tax avoidance in 2016

The Panama Papers revealed off-shore tax avoidance in 2016   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Pandora leaks put capitalism in the dock

Expose it and fight for a socialist alternative

Tony Saunois, CWI secretary

The explosive leaking of 6.4 million documents and 1.2 million emails showing the grotesque activities of the super-rich, stashing billions of US dollars in off-shore accounts to avoid tax and launder money, puts the entire capitalist system in the dock.

It shows the totally parasitic nature of capitalism and its rulers in today’s world.

The source of the leaks understandably remains a guarded secret of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to which the material was sent. 600 journalists internationally have worked on this story which puts into shade previous leaks of this character like the Panama papers in 2016.

As the head of the ICIJ put it, these revelations are like “the Panama papers on steroids”. Implicated are 35 heads of state, over 100 billionaires and 300 public officials. From Moscow to Monaco, London to Washington, Pakistan to Uzbekistan via Jordan, the list goes on and on. Tory party donors and former New Labour prime minister, war criminal Tony Blair, are exposed along with public officials from more than 90 countries.

Against the background of the sea of human misery which has been suffered by millions during the Covid pandemic these revelations expose the real character of the capitalist classes and their political representatives.

The figures revealed are mind blowing. The King of Jordan has amassed a global property empire now worth more than US$100 million. Its footprint stretches from Malibu, California, to Washington DC and on to the most exclusive postcodes in London. The Californian Malibu mansion with 26 rooms was purchased by him in 2014 for US$33.5 million.

Jordan receives billions in foreign aid. In 2019 one Jordanian, Moayyad al-Majali was arrested for slandering the world’s oldest monarch for simply asking the question: How much land does he own? At the same time one in four Jordanians languish in poverty and are unemployed.

The New Labour Blair dynasty, recently rolled out again during the political crisis engulfing Sir Keir Starmer’s New Labour Party, meanwhile saved hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxes by purchasing a London office building from an offshore company partially owned by a Bahraini minister, for a mere £6.5 million.

As Johnson in Britain presides over multiple economic and political crises in the UK, and inflicts misery on hundreds of thousands who will have their Universal Credit payment cut by £20 per week – as fuel, food and rents rocket – the Tory party has been receiving donations from donors with alleged links to corruption. Mohamed Amersi, who has donated to the Tories and who funded Johnson’s campaign to become prime minister advised on a telecoms deal that was later found to be a US$220 million bribe for the daughter of the then president of Uzbekistan.

The UK monarch’s crown estate purchased a £67 million London property apparently from Azerbaijan’s ruling family. President Aliyev has traded close to £400 million of UK property over 15 years. One of them was purchased for £33.5 million in 2009 by an offshore company owned by Aliyev’s son, Heydar, who was then just 11 years old!

Whilst London remains one of the world’s centres for money laundering, South Dakota in the US is exposed as being a leading base for the offshore industry.

A homemade placard  at an anti-capitalist protest in 2011, photo Elaine Brunskill

A homemade placard at an anti-capitalist protest in 2011, photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

These revelations, and more to come, are certain to fuel the rage felt by millions as global inequality and poverty have soared under the pandemic.

The Dreyfus affair in France which began in 1894, involved the false conviction of an army officer, who was Jewish, of treason. It was subsequently exposed as a fabrication. It triggered massive political polarisation and upheaval. These revelations can have a similar impact in some countries.

They have political consequences in the Czech elections this weekend as it is revealed that the prime minister, Andrej Babis, a multi-billionaire, took loans through offshore company structures to purchase a £13 million mansion in the South of France!

The figures involved reveal how totally parasitic modern day capitalism has become as a system. Tax evasion by the rich and powerful through the offshore stashes they run, away from the prying eyes of the mass of the global population, is estimated to be worth between US$400 billion and US$800 billion.

Some of the capitalist politicians, like Biden, have reacted to these revelations by promising action will be taken. Imran Khan, the Pakistani prime minister, a populist multi-millionaire with property in London, tweeted that the ruling elite in the developing world was plundering the national wealth in the same way as the East India Company once looted India. This followed revelations involving his minister for water!

But what action can they take? They are part of the system which breeds this parasitic corruption.

These exposures are on a much bigger level but similar leaks involving offshore tax avoidance have happened before. The Panama papers in 2016. The Paradise papers in 2017. Yet here we are again in 2021 with even greater and grander revelations where only the individuals have changed.

The CWI demands that these revelations be used by all, including the trade union leaders, to expose the real nature of capitalism.

  • Demand the opening of the books of all companies, banks and speculators to inspections by elected committees of the working class and poor! No trust in capitalist politicians or enquiries to deal with the corrupt tax avoiders!
  • Immediate expropriation of the properties held by these individuals, to be used to house the homeless or be used for other social facilities and amenities to be decided by democratically elected committees of workers and communities.
  • The building of new mass workers’ parties with socialist policies to expose the nature of capitalism and fight for a socialist alternative to it.
To be discussed at Socialism 2021

To be discussed at Socialism 2021   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)