Thursday, 14 April 2016

What we've learned from the Panama papers

What have we learned from the papers leaked from the Mossack Fonseca office in Panama? Well, from what I've read so far, practically zilch. What we've had is confirmation of a lot of things we already thought we knew anyway.

1. Cronies of Putin, African dictators and Chinese politicians find ways to stash money away. Quelle surprise!

2. David Cameron, while wealthy compared with most, but of modest means compared with the super rich, doesn't top up his salary with undeclared income. His dad left him money and his mum made a cash gift to him which wasn't of a life changing magnitude (for him).  I doubt Cameron's total income would impress the Chief Exec of your local health trust, let alone any executive board member of a FTSE 100 company. (Cameron gets about £150k as PM and grossed a bit more than £200k after house rental income. The average total package of a FTSE 100 exec was around £2.5M in 2014 according to Grant Thornton and quoted in the FT, 7 Dec 2014. Chief Executives would be a lot more). Cameron pays all his taxes. Ditto George Osborne. I didn't doubt it and can't understand what last weekend's fuss was all about.

3. Jeremy Corbyn is inept. The fact that he can't fill in his tax return on time or accurately didn't exactly shock, did it?

We might yet learn something interesting from the millions of documents but the most interesting thing that could happen would be for the authorities to get after real villains they can reach, rather watching the unedifying spectacle of the press foaming at the  mouth over the pantomime ones.

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