13 thoughts on “Icelandic prime minister’s downfall in Panama corruption scandal

  1. Pingback: Bernie Sanders’ Wisconsin victory, and the Panama Papers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Wednesday 6th April 2016

    posted by Morning Star in World

    by Our Foreign Desk

    ICELAND’S Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned last night as the Panama Papers scandal claimed its first political scalp.

    Earlier in the day Mr Gunnlaugsson, leader of the Progressive Party, asked President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to dissolve parliament and hold fresh elections because he had lost the support of junior coalition partners the Independence Party.

    But the president said he could not consider the request without speaking to both parties and mounting pressure — vast crowds had demanded the PM’s departure from Monday.

    Documents leaked from the Mossack Fonseca law firm showed Mr Gunnlaugsson had failed to declare a 50 per cent stake in Wintris, a British Virgin Islands-based company which he and his wife used to stash their family fortunes, when he was elected to parliament in 2009. He later sold Wintris to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1.

    The company had investments in the bonds of three Icelandic banks, meaning when Mr Gunnlaugsson — elected on an anti-banker platform following the financial crash — struck a deal with the creditors of failed financial institutions his wife was a direct beneficiary.

    The mushrooming scandal also forced the resignation in Chile yesterday of the head of the country’s branch of Transparency International after he was linked to five shell companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, which is now under investigation by the Panamanian state prosecutor’s office.



  3. From Britain:

    Wednesday 6th April 2016

    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    Corbyn tells PM it’s time to stop running and tell the truth about British tax havens

    JEREMY CORBYN challenged David Cameron yesterday to publish his tax returns after it was exposed that he partly inherited an offshore firm that did not pay tax for 30 years.

    The Labour leader demanded an independent probe of the tax affairs of those exposed in the 11 million-document leak from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — which named Mr Cameron’s late dad Ian Cameron as a client.

    Mr Corbyn said if the Tory PM wanted to “set the record straight” then he should “stop pussyfooting around” and take steps to tackle tax havens that are “honeypots of corruption.”

    Mr Cameron said that he had “no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that” and refused to say whether his family had benefited or was likely to in the future from offshore tax-avoidance.

    He claimed that his father’s untaxed business was a “private matter.”

    A Downing Street spokesperson deflected questions by highlighting a part of his wife Samantha Cameron’s financial interests and insisting that “the Prime Minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds.”

    Mr Corbyn disagreed that it would be a “private matter” if tax had been avoided and said that an independent investigation “must take place” in light of the revelations.

    Mr Cameron also said that wealthy companies and individuals should pay tax they owe but refused to call for an investigation into the secretive, but legal, sector.

    This includes firms like Mossack Fonseca, which has 72 current and former world leaders as clients and claims to have operated “beyond reproach” for decades.

    Mr Cameron’s father, as a director of Blairmore Holdings Inc, used unregistered bearer shares until 2006 to protect clients’ identities.

    He ran an offshore fund that avoided paying a penny to the Treasury by roping in residents of the Bahamas, including a part-time bishop, to sign the paperwork.

    The Prime Minister is preparing to chair an international summit on tackling corruption next month, where tax havens are expected to be high on the agenda.

    Mr Corbyn suggested that the Tory ­government might intervene to take direct “immediate control” of British offshore tax havens by using an order in council because the Queen’s Privy Council, of which the Cabinet is just a standing committee, is a regular governing body of the British Overseas Territories.

    He will also demand extra resources for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), whose own offices are owned by companies registered in havens, to enable the taxman to tackle tax avoiders.

    At the launch of Labour’s local election campaign in Harlow, Essex, he said that the avoidance of tax by wealthy firms and individuals was starving public services of vital funding.

    “It is unacceptable that while councils’ budgets are cut and the services on which people rely are being cut back, the super-rich elite dodge their taxes and flout the rules.

    “As the leaked documents show, tax havens have become honeypots of international corruption, tax avoidance and evasion.”



    • Wednesday 6th April 2016

      posted by Morning Star in Editorial

      JEREMY CORBYN’S forthright demand for an independent inquiry into the tax affairs of everyone implicated in the Panama Papers scandal has to be supported.

      Rather than tax-dodging being a fringe activity by a handful of rich companies and individuals, Corbyn is right to describe it as being on an “industrial scale.”

      Downing Street has already begun squealing and not simply because his father’s offshore investment benefited David Cameron personally.

      The Prime Minister has made a name for himself as the self-designated scourge of offshore tax evasion and what he calls aggressive tax avoidance.

      If this reputation is accepted as justified, it adds weight to the Tories’ fraudulent “all in it together” argument.

      But, if there is less to Cameron’s self-proclaimed virtue than meets the eye, it shows that the government has promoted form over content.

      Cameron insists that he has no share in offshore operations, but his careful restriction of the issue to himself as an individual begs questions about other family members.

      This can be verified either way by setting up a wide-ranging and independent investigation.

      Rather than take up Corbyn’s call and cleanse the Augean stables once and for all, Downing Street prefers to play the man not the ball by accusing Labour of having done next to nothing while in office.

      That may be true, because the governments of Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown were in the pockets of big business, especially the private banks, and the wealthiest 1 per cent.

      The Tories can claim quite plausibly to have done more about offshore tax-dodging since 2010 than New Labour did over 15 years, but this isn’t the full story.

      The likes of Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott spoke out throughout the New Labour years to demand that the spotlight be shone into international tax haven boardrooms and that effective government action be taken.

      If Cameron, George Osborne and company were serious about doing more than scratching the surface of dodgy dealing, they would have welcomed Corbyn’s proposal with open arms.

      Their preference for throwing insults at Labour rather than reacting positively invites the conclusion that they are playing games.

      Set-piece global conferences are all well and good, offering the PM a chance to milk the limelight, but prioritising international agreements over direct action can set the velocity of meaningful change to the pace of the most tardy slowcoach.

      Even Cameron would have to agree that Britain’s crown dependencies and overseas territories have dragged their feet, preserving their secret and very profitable arrangements.

      But former attorney general Dominic Grieve describes demands by Corbyn and former minister Vince Cable that the government take control of territories used as tax havens as a “bit of a nuclear option.”

      In his view, this would “destroy the livelihoods” of British Virgin Islands inhabitants working in the finance industry.

      Who remembers Grieve shedding tears for the tens of thousands of finance-sector workers sacked in Britain in recent years?

      Britain has a responsibility to people living in BVI, but this should not extend to collusion in the swindling of governments all over the world through tax evasion and avoidance.

      For too long the parliamentary consensus has been that rich people should be free to avoid paying their fair share of taxation and to thank politicians for their licence to do so by funding their parties.

      After changes in the Labour leadership and in the public mood, those days are over.

      Political leaders will no longer be judged by their words against tax-dodging but by what they agree to do to end it.



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