The explosive leaking of 6.4 million documents and 1.2 million emails, the ‘Pandora papers’, showing the grotesque activities of the super-rich, stashing billions of US$ in offshore accounts to avoid tax and to launder money, puts the entire capitalist system in the dock. It reveals the totally parasitic nature of capitalism and its rulers.
The source of the leaks understandably remains a guarded secret of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to which the material was sent. Six hundred 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. British 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. A Malibu mansion, with 26 rooms, was purchased by him, in 2014, for US$33.5 million. While the King amasses such wealth, Jordan receives billions in foreign aid. In 2019, one of his subjects, 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 live in poverty and are unemployed.
Tony Blair, whose New Labour project was recently rolled out again during the political crisis engulfing Sir Kier Starmer’s party, saved hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxes by purchasing, for £6.5 million, a London office building from an offshore company partially owned by a Bahraini minister.
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, presides over multiple economic and political crises. His Tory government are inflicting misery on hundreds of thousands, who will have their welfare Universal Credit Rating payment cut by £20 per week, while fuel, food and rent costs rocket. Now it has emerged from the Pandora papers that the Tory party has been receiving donations from donors with alleged links to corruption. Mohamed Amersi, who has donated to the Tories and who helped to fund 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’s family have traded close to £400 million of UK property over 15 years. One property 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!
While London remains one of the world’s major places for money laundering, South Dakota in the US is exposed as a leading base for the offshore industry.
Fueling the rage of millions
These revelations, and more to come, are certain to fuel the rage felt by millions, as global inequality and poverty have sored under the covid pandemic. The Dreyfus affair in France, which began in 1894, involved the false conviction of an army officer, who was Jewish, of treason. The allegation was subsequently exposed as a fabrication. The scandal triggered massive political polarization and upheaval. The Pandora revelations can have a similar impact in some countries.
They can have political consequences in the Czech elections this weekend. It was 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 anything from between US$400 billion and US$800 billion.
Some of the capitalist politicians, like Joe Biden, have reacted to these revelations promising action will be taken. Following revelations involving his minister for water, the Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, 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 the East India Company once looted India! 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 revelations and only the individuals involved are changed.
The CWI demands that these revelations be used by the workers’ movement, including the trade unions, to expose the real nature of capitalism and to 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 their ‘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 the communities. For the building of new mass workers’ parties with socialist policies to expose the nature of capitalism. Fight for a socialist alternative!