Panama Papers

HT blanks Sibal story; Express gives its own slant

What’s OpIndia.com? Apparently nobody since Hindustan Times completely banned the Kapil Sibal “land scam” story which has propelled the remarkable website on to the national consciousness.

Who is Smriti Irani? Again nobody since Hindustan Times, leave aside the investigative story, didn’t  even consider the presser of India’s Human Resource Development minister worthy of coverage. Every other story, from a Karnataka chicken to dime-a-dozen weather reports, mocked at its readers in complete disdain today.

Indian Express, typically, covered the story inside its covers but with a completely outrageous slant. It manipulated the story not as an alleged “land scam” but as Sibal allegedly siding with a “money launderer.” You see, scams—that too made-up– exist only for a particular political party in a particularly hostile mainstream daily. (Mischievous that the newspaper is, it covered its tracks with the mention of “land” in its online story).

These are the newspapers who are awarded and feted on fake “Panama Papers”—a CIA operation which is distributed to select media outlets around the world who then acquire a halo, claiming to have worked themselves to ground in heroically unearthing this massive scam. I mean how fake could you really get!!!

These newspapers run “investigative report series” on environmental hazards in Goa; every sneeze of a Dalit; every sweat of a Muslim, every strand of hair on a Dravidian mirror but try making them cover a scam concerning Congress or Left! It’s sunk on a sea floor without much ado. There are relaxed norms for columnists–such as Sibal, Yechury or Chidambaram–who are above reproach or probing questions.  (And by the way why Surjit S. Bhalla has stopped appearing in Indian Express since becoming a member of Modi’s Economic Advisory Council? Any idea, sirji).

But could heat on them would lessen any degree only because the English mainstream media plays the cover-up game? Unlikely. Such are the avenues and platforms—social media and TV channels—available to readers that truth is out despite wool being pulled over their eyes by presstitutes.

And it is these rogues who beat their breasts on the “freedom of press” having done their best to slaughter the cause of independent media.  All its “star” go into a slumber when their masters are grilled by unassailable facts. The more they stretch to cover, the more torn undies get in the process.

Panama Papers: have a great laugh about it

Indian Express is preening that alongside International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) it poured over 11.5 million leaked documents of 214,000 shell companies and 14,000 Mossak Fonseca clients, between 1977 and 2015, and found over 500 Indian individuals using the tax haven.

The leak first appeared in NATO-friendly Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich and then shared by the ICIJ with selected mainstream media partners, including Indian Express.

A few of the smeared names you already know: Amitabh Bachchan, Harish Salve, Aishwarya Rai, KP Singh and Vinod Adani, elder brother of industrialist Gautam Adani.

Now a few things which you don’t know and must be told about:

The ICIJ is funded by Washington-based Center for Public Integrity which in turn gets its source income from the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockfeller Family Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and the George Soros-owned Open Society.

Another of ICIJ patron is Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) which is financed by the US government through USAID.

And yes, about Panama: a well-known US vassal state. As famous analyst Pepe Escobar says: “Absolutely nothing in real substance happens in Panama without a green light by the United States government. Or as an international tax lawyer told me, “you have to be an idiot to stash money in Panama. You cannot flush a toilet there without the Americans knowing about it.”

So in this selective leak, there is no US senator, European Union politicians, no big Wall Street banks and hedge funds hiding in Panama. Apple, Google, Starbucks—a few of the biggest tax evaders using offshore schemes—have miraculously evaded the scrutiny.”

As former UK ambassador Craig Murray writes: “The filtering of this…information by the corporate media follows a direct western government agenda….The Guardian is quick to reassure that much of the leaked material will remain private.”

This “leak” is essentially to cause domestic rows and embarrassment to BRICS nations, Russia, China and India alongside Bashar-al-Asad of Syria. Certain leaks are held back to potentially blackmail those in times of need. The other persons named are relatively minor players in the big game which West, embarrassed by Russia-inspired victory in Palmyra, has chosen to sacrifice.

So you have the names of demented king of Saudi Arabia; Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Avad Allawi, ex-interimt PM of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson of Iceland; Argentina President Mauricio Macri; Dov Weisglass, the butcher of Gaza, already convicted of corruption. These are all disposable individuals.

And then comes the sucker-punch: Western corporate media I shouting from rooftops that Russian president Vladimir Putin has stashed US $2 billion offshore. The fact is: he hasn’t. He is guilty by association to Arkady and Boris Rotenberg’s alleged ties to money laundering. The same method in hauling over the coals Adani, for the acts of his brother; and Bachchan who was seen as ruling party’s candidate to be India’s president.

As for China, unnamed eight Chinese Communist Party current and former officials and brother-in-law of Chinese president Xi Jinping has been named.

Syria was always going to be a target. Most of Western media has put its focus on Rami Makhlouf, “Assad’s fixer.” He is already under US sanctions since February 2008. Nobody bothers to ask how this “poster boy” of corruption was sheltered by HSBC.

The “leak” is of selected nature, likely obtained by US secret service, meant to serve two purpose:

  • To smear BRICS and enemies of empire
  • To hold details for blackmailing in future and keep those targets fall in line

The leak essentially is of several dozen firms and individuals who are already blacklisted by the US sanctions. If ICIJ and its partners are really serious, they ought to go after Cayman Papers or the Virgin Island Papers. That’s where the biggies are.

Says Escobar: “The so-called international banking/financial system is a demented casino. It’s not only 8 percent; Hong Kong players tell me as much as 50 percent of global wealth may currently be parked, undisturbed, in non-taxable offshore havens. If a fraction of these astonishing funds would be taxed, governments right and left would be paying their debts, investing in infrastructure, launching round after round of sustainable growth, and a productive spiral would be in motion.”

Three months ago, Andrew Penney, managing director of Rothschild and Co, in a Bloomberg piece, essentially stated that US “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.”

So, essentially, we now know a little more about Indian Express and its association with US-backed dubious bodies of investigative journalists.