These days most respectable banks will set up accounts for offshore companies only if their ultimate beneficial owner is named—a measure considered essential to prevent money-laundering – financing terrorism – and other forms of crime.
Mossack Fonseca by contrast appears to have been remarkably incurious about whose money it was accepting.
(ed:..as was the new zealand government..eh..?..’remarkably uncurious about whose money it was accepting’ – which is why new zealand is now a designated tax-haven..)
In a seminar room in Oxford one of the reporters who worked on the Panama Papers is describing the main conclusion he drew from his months of delving into millions of leaked documents about tax evasion.
‘Basically we’re the dupes in this story’ he says.
‘Previously we thought that the offshore world was a shadowy but minor part of our economic system.
What we learned from the Panama Papers is that it is the economic system’.
Luke Harding – a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian was in Oxford to talk about his work as one of four hundred–odd journalists around the world who had access to the 2.6 terabytes of information about tax havens—the so-called Panama Papers—that were revealed to the world in simultaneous publication in eighty countries this spring.
‘The economic system is basically that the rich and the powerful exited long ago from the messy business of paying tax’ Harding told an audience of academics and research students.
‘They don’t pay tax anymore and they haven’t paid tax for quite a long time.
We pay tax but they don’t pay tax.
The burden of taxation has moved inexorably away from multinational companies and rich people to ordinary people’.