Iceland’s prime minister resigned yesterday following the “Panama Papers” investment scandal that implicated the heads of government of five countries.
Government officials in another forty countries were named in the documents leaked on April 3.
Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, was one of the leaders named.
Yesterday he resigned. Today, whereabouts unknown, he says his resignation is temporary.
The Financial Times reports Iceland’s leader goes to ground as political pressure grows.
Even sharp subarctic spring sunshine could not pierce the fog of political uncertainty that shrouded Iceland’s political circles on Wednesday — or even clarify the whereabouts of its prime minister.
On Wednesday evening thousands of protesters braved the rain to mass outside the parliament, where they banged pots and pans and tossed eggs and at least one fish head. Placards they carried read: “This is not my government.”
The crisis looks set to fuel the rise of the radical “Pirate party” to unprecedented national influence. Polls suggest Iceland’s version of the international direct-democracy and free-speech movement is now the island’s most popular political group.
Mr Gunnlaugsson became the target of public fury after news that he once owned part of an offshore company, now controlled by his wife, that owned claims in three Icelandic banks that collapsed in 2008.
The prime minister announced on Tuesday he would resign, but in a later statement suggested he only wanted fisheries minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to take his place temporarily at the head of government.
Asta Helgadottir, one of the Pirate party’s three members of parliament, riffed on Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought-experiment in which a cat could be alive and dead at the same time. “[Mr Gunnlaugsson] is our ‘Schrödinger’s prime
The Pirate party does not have conventional policy-setting procedures, but Ms Helgadottir, 26, said its MPs — who hang a large skull-and-cross bones in their parliamentary office — were demanding an immediate election to resolve the crisis.minister’,” she said.
World’s First Temporary Resignation
There you have it, the world’s first temporary resignation, about to become permanent.
Thousands of demonstrators have demanded the resignation of the current PM and government. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Kristján
Polls show Almost Half of Icelandic Nation Now Want the Pirate Party.
A new opinion poll by Icelandic media outfits Fréttablaðið, Stöð 2 and Vísir gives Iceland’s Pirate Party a record 43% of the vote.
21.6% percent would vote for the Independence Party, 11.2% for the Left-Green Movement, 10.2% for the Social Democratic Alliance, 7.9% for the Progressive Party, and 3.8% for Bright Future.
Panama Leaks Background
The Panama Papers are a leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca. The documents show how wealthy public officials hide their money.
- Five Top Dogs: Argentina, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates
- Forty others: Government officials, close relatives, and close associates of various heads of government of more than forty other countries include Brazil, China, Peru, France, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Syria, and the United Kingdom.
A full list of companies involved comes out in early May.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Ric Panzera said:
Like your “stuff”. Thank you.
Hard to believe no US politicians were fingered. I wonder how they managed to stay under the radar? Especially the Clintons.
I was reading somewhere that there are US names but that they aren’t being released yet .
The whole show is quite strange if according to http://www.itpro.co.uk/data-leakage/26293/panama-papers-leak-victim-mossack-fonseca-says-outsider-hacked-its-systems Süddeutsche Zeitung were receiving files over a year , as well as other press then joining in .
I know the information is fascinating with respect to gaining a view of possible manipulations , especially political , but we should not forget the other facet which is basically someone stealing business papers and a gathering of main international media accepting them and sitting down quietly to report on what they say .
Comes across as a little bizarre to me , even if we were to assume the relationship between press and hacker/s were to provide him/her/them with some kind of cover .
Let’s hope this opens up a can of viper snakes on some US officials!!!
Yes, I cannot see how the UK was involved but not the US. We get a shot in May when the companies are listed
Dr Strangepork said:
This reveal is through the lens of only one law firm. It is very unlikely that this is the only firm doing such business, so the lack of US names may be more of a function of that company than a lack of such persons of interest.
It seems likely (at least to me) that this will lead to other sources and companies and the web will grow far larger. Now to see if the investigative effort gets “entangled” in some sort of nefarious crime which is never actually charged or tried, but effectively silences the investigation.
Well, if all the info comes ou in May, that’ll give some of the quicker responding US officials in government an opportunity to hide it another way, or go into hiding themselves.
Oh yes, Hilary is squirming, you bet.
One can’t help but wonder how this “exposure” of “criminals” will be used against people simply trying to dig their way out from under the heavy hand of an increasing hungry world government. We see this in our taxing structures where those who work and create to acquire wealth are treated the same as those acquiring great wealth through manipulation and near if not real criminal acts.
Exactly . Authorities want legal access to all information , there is no denying that push is under way . As with the FBI unlocking of the phone , the question was not really if they should , the principal was if the maker should open the door on request or if the authorities would have to take possession of it legally first and then order a locksmith to break in .
So I guess it is up to people to think about where the curtain of privacy should be , remembering that it is not their judgement of how innocent they themselves are that counts once information is made open, but those that are reading it and their choice of interpretation of it .
Most people would do anything to remain ‘honest’ , the fear of being criminalized is intense , and so I suppose they will thoughtlessly allow access to whatever just to remain on the ‘right side’ .
I like transparency , especially when it comes to politics , but in everyday dealings you do not go round telling everyone everything because you are afraid of people accusing you of being secretive. Yet the result of this leak may be used that people actually ask for privacy to be taken away .
Mish, according to this article, we’re all looking in the wrong country: “This is much worse than the Panama Papers: How America became a world leader in tax avoidance”.
“But one reason why Americans haven’t yet been implicated is that they already have a perfectly good place for their tax avoidance schemes: right here in the United States.
While several developed countries are already moving to reduce the anonymity behind shell companies, including a public registry of “beneficial ownership” information in the United Kingdom and a directive to collect similar information throughout the European Union, the United States has resisted such transparency. According to recent research, the United States is the second-easiest country in the world to obtain an anonymous shell corporation account. (The first is Kenya.) You can create one in Delaware for your cat.
While we force foreign financial institutions to give up information on accounts held by U.S. taxpayers through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010, we don’t reciprocate by complying with international disclosure requirements standardized by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and agreed to by 97 other nations. As a result, the U.S. is becoming one of the world’s foremost tax havens.
Several states – Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming – specialize in incorporating anonymous shell corporations. Delaware earns between one-quarter and one-third of their budget from incorporation fees, according to Clark Gascoigne of the FACT Coalition. The appeal of this revenue has emboldened small states, and now Wyoming bank accounts are the new Swiss bank accounts. America has become a lure, not only for foreign elites looking to seal money away from their own governments, but to launder their money through the purchase of U.S. real estate.”
Rual Pyan said:
Sorry, but this is not complete. Firstly, companies that provide offshore banking and domicile assistance offer a catalogue of places and ways to hide money. Now that FATCA has been implemented, there’s really only one way to do it for Americans–the highest level of anonymity as possible. By using lawyers and independent custodians like Mossack Fonseca you can potentially be so far removed from your cash and assets that governments would take decades and spend millions in various courts just trying to figure it all out. Politically, it’s just not feasible to mess with.
Those who got busted were non-Americans that thought they would never need that (very expensive) extra layer of anonymity.
If any Americans do get exposed (a few already have) they are simply patsies. They were either naive, too cheap, or possibly tricked into not adding those extra layers of protection.
I seriously doubt that any A-list American faces in government, business, athletics, or Hollywood will appear. If this leak would have happened years before FATCA then it would have been a disaster for famous Americans, but FATCA forced people to get smart, and it handed offshore law firms and “fiduciary” companies a golden goose.
This was clearly about embarrassing some international players, and it looks suspiciously like Putin was the main target. Possible faulty intel before they had their hands on the documents.
Rual Pyan – Putin and China, as well as getting back at Iceland for jailing their bankers. The fact is, Rual Pyan, none of this should be allowed EVER! It doesn’t matter is someone was “naive, too cheap or possibly tricked”. None of it should be happening. The little guy gets a piece of paper from his employer. How does he get around that? He doesn’t. Any shell company-chaser should be jailed for life for doing this. Instead, these slimy lawyers sit there and say, “But, but, but I didn’t break any law.” Slimeballs, all of them.
Fiduciary? Laughing still. Did you mean fudguary relationship? What about that trust? Shouldn’t it be that the people of a country can friggin’ “trust” that everyone pays their taxes?
None of this sh*t should be happening – AT ALL.
Rual Pyan said:
I worked in the industry between 2000 – 2007 (pre-FATCA). I was working for a boutique offshore financial services company in Tokyo, Japan. I had around 50+ clients I actively took care of. The shop itself probably had around 500 – 600 clients. Not one was “super rich.” Every single one of them would be considered middle to upper middle class–they made between 60K – 120K a year, and their careers spanned from teachers to low level young bankers. The majority were English speaking foreigners with just a few English speaking Japanese clients.
Why did they come to us? Because investing in Japan was difficult (nothing tailored for English speaking foreigners), and quite high capital gains taxes in Japan. Moreover, the products we offered were stellar compared to what any Japanese firm could offer. The most popular product we sold was a “life assured” savings account. It was fund account wrapped in life insurance. These types of products are popular in the United Kingdom.
Now, did some maybe want to squirrel money offshore away from their government? Probably, especially Americans, because at the time there were consistent rumors of the taxman coming and also there was a lot of doom-and-gloom back then–for example, most of our clients were already investing into gold funds at the time (ex-patriots are more bearish than mainlanders–in my experience).
All that said, FATCA was a screw job! But it wasn’t a screw job on those super wealthy that need to be screwed… it was a screw job on all the middle class ex-patriots living overseas in places like Tokyo, Singapore, HK, Dubai, and London. I guess you could call them wannabes, if you so desired.
But were any of them hurting you or any one else? Absolutely not! If you think a person living overseas is morally obligated to be double taxed, you need your head examined.
My clients in Tokyo paid their taxes (VAT and income). They paid their taxes to their host country, and they reported to their passport holding countries. Did some of them lie? Probably so… wouldn’t you? Why on Earth should an American living and working in Tokyo pay the U.S. government one red cent??? For what? A bribe?
Anyway, point is, FATCA didn’t hurt those it should have. It hurt people like me–men and women living and working overseas. Now, many of us cannot even get a bank account because local banks don’t want to deal with the U.S. government. This is not an exaggeration. I had to get my Japanese wife to open a bank account for me here in my new host country just last year. It was an embarrassment, to say the least.
The Obama administration, either intentional or unintentional, screwed over the middle and upper middle classes overseas–which makes perfect sense since they do it to mainlanders, too. The super wealthy and multi-national corporations–those who should be paying their fair share–walk free and clear.
But should have we expected anything different? I don’t thing so. It’s clear we are being forced into a corporatist totalitarian society with FATCA, TPP, and other trade agreements.
I like to imagine the future like that movie The Hunger Games. It’s eerily obvious that we are being set up for this type of hell on Earth….
Another one – “Panama Has Company as Bank-Secrecy Holdout, as U.S. Offers Haven”:
“The latest reporting “underscores the secrecy in Panama,” said Stefanie Ostfeld, the acting head of the U.S. office of the anti-corruption group Global Witness. “What’s lesser known, is the U.S. is just as big a secrecy jurisdiction as so many of these Caribbean countries and Panama. We should not want to be the playground for the world’s dirty money, which is what we are right now.” Advisers around the world are increasingly using the U.S. resistance to the OECD’s standards as a marketing tool — attracting overseas money to U.S. state-level tax and secrecy havens like Nevada and South Dakota, potentially keeping it hidden from their home governments.”
It seems that the published names of owners of offshore companies have been carefully chosen:
I will be suspicious until all the names are published.
Old guy said:
You most likely will not see A list Americans on the list. Many forget the long arm of the US government.
All politicians are either power hungry, corrupt or both. No wonder only a third of our country vote. They know it makes no real difference. The last time the will of the people was temporarily felt was the French Revolution. Even then they just upset one corrupt regime for another.
Ron J said:
“Iceland’s prime minister resigned yesterday following the “Panama Papers” investment scandal that implicated the heads of government of five countries.”
Yet they call themselves public servants.
I heard the other day that public servant Hillary Clinton is allegedly worth 45 million.
Reblogged this on HISTÓRIA da POLÍTICA.
This looks like a controlled leak.