News Release

Panama Papers, How Global Rich Siphon Wealth and Obama’s “Window Dressing”

no-shelter-from-the-panama-papers-displayThe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today published a searchable database of the Panama Papers.

JAMES HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry at, @submergingmkt
Henry’s books include The Blood Bankers: Tales from the Global Underground Economy and the forthcoming The Pirate Bankers.

He recently completed a study on tax havens which the Guardian just reported on: “More than $12tn (£8tn) has been siphoned out of Russia, China and other emerging economies into the secretive world of offshore finance, new research has revealed, as David Cameron prepares to host world leaders for an anti-corruption summit.” This event is to take place Thursday. For a calendar of events, see:

Henry — who was also just interviewed by The Real News about the release of the Panama Papers — said today: “A large part of what people are overlooking is that countries in the West are themselves tax havens. The documents are called the ‘Panama Papers’ because that’s where the law firm — Mossack Fonseca — where the documents came from is headquartered, but that’s not where the money stayed. It goes to Western banks. The latest example of this is New Zealand.” See this new report from Radio New Zealand: “NZ at heart of Panama money-go-round.”

Henry continued: “But this is an old game, it’s just getting bigger and bigger and more complex. It puts the idea of global development on its head: Investments are supposed to come from rich countries to poor countries so they can build up and those investors get a higher rate of return. But what we’re seeing in reality is the opposite: Wealthy people in poorer countries take their money out of those countries and get a low rate of return in rich countries. And of course, the wealthy in rich countries use havens to avoid taxes and for other reasons that don’t do anything beneficial.

“Switzerland has traditionally played this role. But the U.S. is now a huge player and it’s telling that the ‘reforms’ President Obama is now proposing don’t have requirements for a registry of who owns what in U.S. states that act as havens, especially Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota and Alaska. All these states have financial secrecy on a massive level.

“Until the U.S. and other Western governments address that, any changes are window dressing.

“We have mass surveillance of the general public, but the global rich can hide trillions of dollars in assets without any serious transparency.”