More proof that all leaks and “whistleblowers” are subterfuge for an unwitting public
Bahamas files: New leak exposes offshore ‘tax haven’ dealings of politicians, companies
[ Editor’s note: The real story is Assange, now Snowden and the other “leakers.” They get Hillary’s emails, they get bank accounts of thousands, hundreds of thousands…always the same. They only get enemies of Israel. Look for something on Netanyahu or Trump or Adelson or any of the neocons.
Not a word…never…waiting for an Israeli Wikileaks bust, as promised in 2011, make take a century. How can there be a leak about banking or crime or spying and not include Israel? Who is dumb enough to believe that? We can tell you…Americans… GD ]
Five months after the Panama Papers exposed the offshore dealings of government leaders and influential people, a new leak of 1.3 million files has revealed the names of individuals associated with companies registered in the Bahamas, a notorious tax haven.
The files – received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – contains the names of politicians and other individuals linked to more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts, and foundations registered in the Bahamas between 1990 and 2016.
Among the individual names in the publicly searchable database are politicians, entrepreneurs, financiers and fraudsters, all of whom have taken advantage of the Bahamas’ unique positioning as a global tax haven.
The benefits of having a registered address in the Bahamas are plentiful, including the absence of taxes on company profits, capital gains, income and inheritance. Anonymity also plays a role – because although the Bahamas claims to be a transparent jurisdiction with a public register of companies, information shared from the government is limited, the Guardian reported.
Former EU commissioner exposed
Perhaps the most ironic name on the list is former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, whose previous job required her to hound big corporations and inform them they couldn’t run away from EU rules.
However, the documents revealed that Kroes was listed as a director of an offshore company in the Bahamas from 2000 to 2009. That role was never disclosed by Kroes. Such a role is a violation of the commissioners’ code of conduct, which forbids commissioners from holding outside directorships during their tenure.
Speaking through her lawyer following the leak, Kroes said she should have declared the directorship and “will inform the president of the European commission of this oversight and will take full responsibility for it,” the Guardian reported.
However, Kroes’ attorney stressed that she believed the company had been liquidated in 2002, before her appointment as commissioner. Kroes claims she was not paid for the role and did not hold shares in the company. She stressed that the company never became operational and there had been no board meetings.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was also included in the revelations, along with her involvement in a fund which saw a fellow director imprisoned for making misleading statements to investors.
The Bahamas files also confirm previous reports that former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s father used the Caribbean country as a base for his Blairmore investment fund, which in turn avoided tax for three decades.
Former Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold was also included, back when he was the director of a Mongolian goldmining company which used the Bahamas as an offshore address.
In addition, German property developer Cem Kinay was also listed. Kinay is wanted by Interpol for bribery, and is accused of making a potentially corrupt payment to Michael Misick, the former premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Three of Canada’s biggest banks were also on the list. According to the leak, RBC registered 847 companies between 1990 and May 2016, while CIBC registered 632 and Scotiabank registered 481.
Lack of transparency
The Bahamas has long been on the radar of tax officials and governments around the world. In June 2015, the European Union placed it, along with 30 other countries, on a list of un-cooperative tax havens.
In 2000, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – the world’s leading tax policy forum – placed the Caribbean nation on a blacklist of countries that aid tax dodging. It was removed from the list the following year, after it rushed through nine new laws.
However, the Bahamas was placed on the OECD’s ‘gray list’ in 2009, a less severe category which “nonetheless signified nonconformity with international standards,” according to the ICIJ.
The Bahamas also emerged as a common thread in the US Department of Justice’s crackdown on Swiss bank UBS. The department took criminal action against numerous US citizens with offshore dealings in the Bahamas between 2009 and 2014.
But money-laundering and tax probes in the Bahamas often hit a wall, as many directors listed on company files are simply “nominees” – front people or firms that disguise the real operators, according to the ICIJ.
And although Bahamian law requires the names of directors to be filed with the national registrar, those names are not always available online – and directors’ names cannot be searched individually or without pre-existing knowledge of the Bahamian company’s name. Thus, it is incredibly difficult to check whether a public official or corporate executive is linked to companies chartered in the Bahamas.
The government of the Bahamas told the ICIJ, however, that it “does not tolerate dirty money,” and that it “has in many areas been rated as ‘largely compliant’ with international standards.
Uri Avnery – Political Pirates of the Mediterranean Sea
Uri asks if Bibi should resign to save Israel
[ Editor’s note: Uri has another grand slam exposé on Israeli domestic politics, this time on good old fashioned corruption where in the land of “the people”, they cut their fellow citizens no slack when it comes to grabbing whatever is not nailed down.
The Israelis take great pride in the ability to hustle freebies and perks from the Diaspora, hence Uri’s mention of the “adopt a general” program, where rich Jews can name-drop their pet IDF general at cocktail parties.
At election time, the bragging is over who can shake down the US to pay as much freight as possible for Israel’s failed socialist country, when large numbers of holocaust survivors were still eating in soup kitchens.
You just can’t make this stuff up. And if you did, the Israelis would steal it and make a movie script out of it. If I told you how much money, billions a year, that Christian Zionists pour into Zioland, you would not believe it. They must think it brings them closer to God, and for the atheist Zionists especially, they get a big kick out of that.
Israel’s infamous Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who died a while back, was famous for his quote of how goyim (non Jews) were here to serve Jews, which gave them a purpose in life. No apologies were never asked for that remark, as none would have been given. Your reform Jews aren’t into all the Jewish supremacist baloney.
Many just run from it all as far away as they can, including marrying non Jews, which the extremists call mongrelizing the race, also something Western media never touches with a ten-foot pole. We are not supposed to know any of this stuff… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … June 18, 2016 –
Many years ago I received a phone call from the Prime Minister’s office. I was told that Yitzhak Rabin wanted to see me in private.
Rabin opened the door himself. He was alone in the residence. He led me to a comfortable seat, poured two generous glasses of whisky for me and himself and started without further ado – he abhorred small talk – “Uri, have you decided to destroy all the doves in the Labor Party?”
My news magazine, Haolam Hazeh, was conducting a campaign against corruption and had accused two prominent Labor leaders, the new president of the Central Bank and the Minister for Housing. Both were indeed members of the moderate wing of the party.
I explained to Rabin that in the fight against corruption I could make no exceptions for politicians who were close to my political outlook. Corruption was a cause in itself.
The first generation of the founders of Israel was free of corruption. Corruption was unthinkable.
Indeed, purism was carried to extremes. Once a prominent Labor leader was criticized for building for himself a villa in a Jerusalem suburb. There was not the slightest suggestion of corruption. He had inherited the money. But it was considered scandalous for a Labor leader to live in a private villa. A “comrades’ court” decided to expel him from the party, and that was the end of his career.
At the same time, an official residence was built for the Foreign Minister, so he could receive foreign dignitaries in decent surroundings. The minister at that time, Moshe Sharett, believed that it was wrong to hold on to his own private apartment, so he sold it and donated the money to several charitable associations.
The next generation was quite different. It behaved as if it owned the place by divine right.
Its most typical representative was Moshe Dayan. He was born in the country and David Ben-Gurion appointed him Chief of Staff. In this capacity he directed several “retaliation raids” across the border and then the 1956 attack on Egypt which ended in a resounding victory (helped by the Franco-British invasion of the Suez Canal area behind the back of the Egyptian army.)
Dayan was an amateur archaeologist. He stuffed his private villa (by that time, villas were already allowed) with ancient artifacts that he dug up all over the country. That was strictly illegal, since unprofessional digging destroyed historical evidence, making it impossible to define the date. But everybody winked. After all, Dayan was a national hero.
Then my magazine published a shattering revelation: Dayan did not just keep the artifacts in his garden. He sold them all over the world, with a personal signed note that shot their price up. This revelation triggered a huge scandal and inflamed a lot of hatred – towards me.
In a public opinion poll published that year I was chosen as “the most hated person” in the country, beating the chief of the Communist party to the title. (Such polls have since been discontinued.)
The Lush Life
Dayan’s brother-in-law was Ezer Weitzman, the general responsible for the air force that won the fabulous victory in the 1967 Six-day War.
It was an open secret that Weitzman was kept by an American Jewish millionaire and lived in a luxurious villa in Caesarea, the most prestigious place in the country (where Binyamin Netanyahu now has his own private villa.)
For some years this has been a general fashion. Every Jewish millionaire in America had “his” Israeli general, whom he kept in style and who was his pride and joy. For rich Jews, having an Israeli general at family feasts was an obligatory status symbol.
Ariel Sharon, for example. The son of poor parents, inhabitants of a cooperative village, he finished his army career and lo and behold – he suddenly was the owner of a huge ranch. It was given to him as a present by an ex-Israeli American multi-millionaire. (Rumors had it that the millionaire deducted the money from his US taxes.)
That was at a time when Israeli generals were not only heroes at home, but all over the world. Moshe Dayan, easily recognizable by his black eye-patch, was a hero in Los Angeles no less than in Haifa.
All these generals (except Ezer Weitzman, who came from a rich family) grew up in very straitened circumstances. Their parents were members of kibbutzim (communal villages) or moshavim (cooperative villages), all of which were at the time extremely poor. Sharon, a moshav-boy, told me that he walked every day for half an hour to his high school and back to save the bus fare.
That was true for the next generation of leaders, too. Ehud Olmert, the ex-prime minister – now in prison for corruption – grew up in a very poor neighborhood and became obsessed with owning expensive things. The ex-president of the state, Moshe Katzav, who shares a prison with him, was sentenced for rape, not corruption, but also grew up in poverty as a new immigrant.
(The current joke has it that after a concert in prison the warden announces: “Everybody remain seated until the President and the Prime Minister leave.”)
Ehud Barak, a former Chief of Staff and Prime Minister, is now amassing a large fortune by “giving advice” to foreign governments. He grew up in a poor village.
I myself was spared this craving for money, though I, too, lived in utmost poverty after coming to Palestine at the age of ten. Luckily, before that I grew up in very well-to-do circumstances in Germany. Since my family and I were much happier in Israel than in Germany, I learned that happiness has nothing to do with riches.
All this crosses my mind because we are bombarded almost daily with accusations of corruption against Binyamin Netanyahu and his highly unpopular wife, Sarah.
Sarah’le, as she is commonly called, a former air stewardess who met her husband on a flight, seems to be a shrew who tyrannizes the staff of the official residence. Some of these have sued her. They revealed that she pilfers the public purse for her private needs.
But what is really disturbing is that Sarah Netanyahu, who was not elected by anyone, seems to be in charge of all senior public appointments. No one can reach these heights without being interviewed and approved by her personally.
She has appointed all three senior law-enforcement officials: the Legal Advisor (actually the Super-Attorney General), the powerful State Comptroller and the Chief of Police.
If so, this was an act of foresight. Because now the three of them are sitting day and night and consulting each other about what to do with the flood of disclosures about the Netanyahu family’s financial affairs. They desperately want to avoid indicting the Netanyahus for anything, but that becomes increasingly difficult, since they are subject to the supervision of the Supreme Court.
I have already reported on some of these disclosures, but new ones pop up every week. It has become a kind of national sport.
It began with the disclosure that before becoming Prime Minister, at a time when he was in and out of government, Netanyahu used to be paid twice or thrice for his first-class air tickets by different unsuspecting institutions, without declaring that as income. This is now called in Israeli slang “Bibitours”.
Since then he has been involved in all kinds of affairs bordering on criminal corruption which are in various stages of “examination”. New ones are added to the list all the time. The three Neyanyahu-appointed legal officers are in constant consultation about whether to order a criminal investigation, which might compel him to leave office at least temporarily.
The climax was achieved when a Jewish financier accused in France of colossal fraud disclosed to the court that had had privately donated to Netanyahu a million Euros and paid Bibi’s extremely expensive hotel bills in many cities, including the French Riviera. The exact sums are in doubt, but it is not denied that Netanyahu received from the man, who was already under suspicion of corruption at the time, large sums of money.
The generous Israeli taxpayers (including me) paid for the five days of Bibi’s stay in New York last fall, to the tune of some 600,000 dollars. This sum – more than 100 thousand dollars per day – included the payment for his private hairdresser (1600 dollars) and his make-up woman (1750 dollars). The purpose of the trip was to address the UN General Assembly. I wonder how much each word cost.
The information was disclosed by order of the court under the Freedom of Information Law.
The Israeli public laps it all up. No one seems to get angry. Jokes abound about the “royal couple”. For many of Netanyahu’s own voters, mostly poor people of Oriental Jewish origin, the disclosures only show that he is a clever person, who knows how to exploit opportunities, as they themselves would love to do.
How to treat these disclosures, which dominate so many TV news programs and newspaper headlines?
I consider Binyamin Netanyahu as the grave-digger of our state, the man who sets the course towards catastrophe, the man who obstructs any chance for peace.
Just this week Netanyahu proudly told his party colleagues that he will “never” agree to conduct negotiations based on the Arab 2002 peace initiative, which includes the end of the occupation, the setting up of the State of Palestine and the evacuation of settlements. Many people believe that this refusal is fatal.
Facing these calamities, why get excited about some little corruption?
But then I remember the case of Al Capone, the gangster who was responsible for huge crimes, including the cold-blooded murder of many people, but who was finally convicted and sent to prison only for income tax evasion.
If Netanyahu can be convicted of petty corruption and compelled to resign – isn’t that just what the country needs?