Saturday, December 3, 2022
 News Details
Where They ‘ Dine ‘ Together -Seychelles and Panama
Pandora’s Box is open

B L Saraf

According to the media , The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists ( ICIJ ) has unveiled financial documents called Pandora Papers , uncovering financial secrets held by high –profile individuals around the world . These Papers carry a list of these people who , allegedly , have accumulated wealth through tax evasions and then parked it in tax ‘ havens ‘ like Seychelles and Panama . This shows how the global elite continue to exploit loop holes in local tax laws and get away with it due to lack of jurisdiction in tax havens . Earlier , we had information of such details through what was then called as Panama leaks .
The Pandora Papers show that over 300 Indians have set up such off shore structures to facilitate tax evasion . Included in them is our “ god of sports “ . A ‘bankrupt industrialist ‘ and a Mumbai don too find their names in the list . These Papers reveal that over 700 Pakistanis , including country’s Finance Minister , Minister for Water resources and some key men of Imran Khan’s inner circle , have also set up such off shore structures and parked their money in these tax havens . In Panama leaks we had observed same pattern when our “cine god ‘’ was found sharing same list wherein Sharif brothers of Pakistan and some disreputable actors of that country figured to have deposited their money in the same tax havens .
See the irony ! Those of the similar trade , living in different countries ,who in their sponsored sense of ‘nationalism’ don’t even share one another’s grief , are visualized to have no inhibition in sitting on the table of the same broker or service provider to get the advice as to how to multiply their tax evaded money . Never mind in a hurry to evade taxes the sense of ‘nationalism ‘ too evades these celebrates ? May be it is not so , but for some this situation is loaded with a propensity to visualize a strange confluence of interests which transcend borders and negate the stance of ‘ assumed nationalism .’
This development takes me back to my Lucknow University days when I was studying Law. Lucknow ,as we know , was the epitome of Nawabal etiquettes and a cultural nerve centre of the country , whose days and nights were filled with cultural activities of varied nature - Urdu poetry recitation session ( Mushiara in common parlance ) would take a pride of the place among them. It is in one of those Mushiara sessions I heard a poet portraying , in a satirical vein , the duplicitous behavior of two contesting candidates - one displayed in public and the other in private . The winning candidate addresses his loosing opponent :
Aao galay lug jaien Khafa hum bhi nahi tum bhi nahi
Jeeve hatya kay khalaf bundh lagainge zaroor
Hanh kahin joe murg mille toe udainge zaroor
Tchowdte aisey ghaza hum bhi nahi tum bbi nahi
The winning politician tells his counterpart not to mind day time antagonism ; let them wage a joint campaign for animal protection and then look forward to the evening camaraderie over a chicken feast which both of them relish in good measure . Well , I don’t know whether these lines will exactly fit in the situation but I do feel that a hint of analogy can’t be lost on a discerning mind .
Pakistan PM, Imran Khan , promised a high level probe whereby all those whose name figures in the leaks will be investigated . Well , that is his problem but , for a change , Imran’s statement interests us , as he compares the stashing of money in tax havens by the natives with the role of East India Company .He said “ Just like The East India Company plundered the wealth of India ,ruling elites of the developing world are doing the same .” Imran has a point . The United Nations Secretary General’s Panel Financial Accountability , Transparency and Integrity ( FACTI ) has calculated a sum of $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in off shore tax havens .
Apart from denying the native countries of valuable resources there is very serious angle to this “business.” It is said that Taliban defeated America , in Afghanistan . Not so : it is America that has defeated the U S .Howsoever a person may be resolute he cannot sustain for long in a fight without arms . It is no secret that Taliban used deadly arms and wherewithal to fight the US Army made by the American gun manufacturers . Here what Senator Larry Pressler - of famed Pressler Amendment intended to stop sales of American arms to Pakistan , in a quest for disarmament in a ‘ Nuclear Indian Sub-Continent – has written in his book , Neighbors In Arms , bears a mention . He refers to the fears expressed by President Dwight Eisenhower about existence of ‘military - industrial complex ‘ in America which will come to dominate and corrupt the United States .
Pressler calls this ‘ Complex “ as Octopus – a monster which runs United States which is the vast inter-connected network of special interests that makes money from aids and ties with governments abroad without regard for any real benefit for the people of those countries or for America . Pressler quotes Eisenhower saying “ In the councils of governments we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought by the military –industrial complex .The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist .” Eisenhower spoke of horrors of war and burgeoning defense industry .
The knowledgeable American commentators have been saying ,for years , that it is the working of the “Octopus “ which ensures a fledgling Narcotic trade in Afghanistan and rise of the drug Lords who sell the product world wide and repatriate the money back to American arms producers for war supplies to Taliban for use against the US army , in Afghanistan . So, a vicious circle has developed which saw body bags flown to America at a regular pace : that ultimately lead to American withdrawal from the country .
In such scenario no one can exclude the possibility of the ’ rent ‘ of parked money going to this trade via same tax havens . We have to guard against the possibility of filling the coffers of those who create mayhem in J &K. That is the gruesome aspect . We hope G OI is alive to the threat .

(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)

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