World media are buzzing with the Panama Papers leak, industry media being no
exception. Prevailing mood can be described as “well, at last, we nab them dirty
bastards”. Everybody seems to be happy and tremendously satisfied.
I turned to Splash24 and its’ series of articles dedicated to a new blockbuster,
The Panama Papers, in hope to find out, what shipping makes of it, of those
papers and the whole mess. Well, can’t say that I found an answer, that I found
anything at all except moralizing. Transparency is the buzzword of the good guys,
offshore is the buzzword when speaking of evil.
Shipping is a bad guy, generally. Shipping is dodging taxes, cheating seafarers,
using FOCs and making itself as oblique as possible, avoiding social
responsibilities, but with that, demanding help when in distress. Like it was
with Somalia piracy, remember? Navies of half of the world hurried to assist,
notwithstanding the fact, that shipowners don’t pay for it, for Navy I mean, by
avoiding taxes. http://splash247.com/the-panama-papers-part-three
Well, as far as I know (and it is quite far, if talking about piracy), shipping
secured itself from pirates by own means and on its’ own account, turning to
private guards, instead of laying hopes with Navies, UN and maritime
organizations. There was a very strong resistance to armed guards, there still
is, and no Navies can make shipping safe in Gulf of Guinea, where armed (well,
any, unarmed too) are persecuted with much more diligence and ferocity, than
pirates. But in case of Somalia pirates, armed guards saved the day, didn’t they?
Who paid for them, our poor governments? Who paid war insurances, I wonder? Who
paid war risk premiums to crews? Don’t say to me, please, about bad shipowners
and suffering from their murky ways society.
But of course, it’s not the point. The point is, the “leak” is an undisguised
attack on offshore as a system in general, which system governments find so
abusive of governments right to tax the population in a way governments find
most suitable, i.e. to pin down each and all of the citizen, leaving them no way
out, and making them “transparent”.
Just one example, what offshore means for many entrepreneurs in many countries.
In Russia private entrepreneur in shipping without offshore is as good as dead.
His property can be taken from him any time the State, or somebody in high
places, finds appropriate, and there is nothing he can do about it, there is no
institution he can turn to, to find plain justice. No way. His property, when
legally registered in Russia, is actually, a constant source of personal risk,
because he may be found guilty on hoax accusation, and get a sentence, which
usually, goes along with confiscation of his business and everything he has,
it’s a wide-spread practice in Russia.
Or take me. I don’t have money even to think about offshore, but if I find some
funds to establish fully-fledged edition, I’ll of course, register it in
offshore. I’ll be an utter fool to register it in Russia, with my nasty habit of
speaking out what I think, feel and find right, not what’s politically correct,
or safe, or profitable. In a very short time I’d finish my undertaking, be it
registered in Russia, by being accused and imprisoned, or by getting into morgue,
or intensive care ward, if somebody would care enough to call an ambulance. Not
to mention a bureaucratic nightmare of registering procedures, and extortionate
costs of those procedures.
Take freelancers, anyone with any business which doesn’t request offices, which
can be carried on from any place, any time. Take anyone active and independent
enough to do something on his own, without relying on State welfare or
But even if I agree to be absolutely legal in governmental understanding of it,
there’s the question of tax spendings, of the ways my country utilizes it. If
talking about my home country Russia, I’d better burn my hard earned money, than
give any of it to Russian government. I don’t want to pay for Mr. Putin’s
extravagant luxuries, or his friends’, or to feed Russian military and terrorist
aggression all around the globe, thank you. If burned, my money at least won’t
add to the evil.
Russia isn’t alone, there are many other countries, whose governments demand
transparency from ordinary citizen, but don’t feel themselves obliged to be as
transparent in return. They feel themselves offended or threatened, if or when
we, ordinary citizen, demand from them accountability.
Offshore actually, is a public instrument to keep a tight rein on governments
and politicians. When the number of active citizen leaving their country’s
economy physically or via offshore, or internet, or any other holes left, is
becoming dangerously big, government has to react by changing the laws and
making them more so to say, habitable for individuals.
That’s why governments, politicians and leftists hate offshore, and FOCs of
course, so much. That’s why they’re trying to eliminate any practice, which
provides individuals with opportunity to stay independent, and behave
independent, but who’re better citizen than free, independent people, may I ask?
I decided, out of curiosity, to investigate a little bit the investigators
themselves, those glorious knights, or namely, The International Consortium of
Investigative Journalists, ICIJ.
What I found out, didn’t make me their supporter or admirer. The mainstream of
their investigations is offshore, devilish network of dirty rich, who’re robbing
our planet. Frankly, I didn’t get the meaning of it all, it’s a jungle of names
and a mess of so-called “reports” or “investigations”, under blaring headlines.
I didn’t find anything you know, matter-of-fact, in readable, short, unequivocal
manner. It’s like entering river and trying to catch fish with bare hands in
muddy waters. I checked their database ICIJ Leaks Database, Russian list. What’s
all about? A name of a person, address, and a link to offshore company. Now what?
Is this person a bloody criminal, laundering bloody money? If yes, where are
proofs and accusations? If no, why ICIJ, legally more dubious, than any of your
offshore companies, makes the name and address of an individual public? And by
the way, how did ICIJ get the details of this person? Was the acquisition as
legal as the acquisition of an offshore company?
The main sources of their investigations are anonymous “leaks”, or simply put,
mass of data, obtained by mysterious ways, no less mysterious, than the devilish
offshore network. All the investigations have an underlined common thread of
offshore system as the main culprit. They – knights I mean – don’t bother
themselves with explaining offshore principles.
In basic terms, these (offshore) firms help people create new businesses and
trusts. …unlike banks, these law firms don’t take possession of their clients’
money. So the notion that they are involved in “money laundering” is laughable.
Once incorporation papers are filed, the law firms don’t direct in any way the
operation of the businesses.
ICIJ plays on public instincts and general hatred of dirty rich. Are dirty rich
bad? Of course they are. Are their ways bad? Surely, no doubt about it. But
their ways are ways of offshore, so bingo – offshore is bad.
Nobody is more glad to ICIJ fearless investigations, than governments. Because
governments want us all to be transparent, for our own sake, of course. We’re
under growing risk of becoming transparent to a degree of non-existence as
humans, as individuals. An individual, a human being, can’t exist under total
control, it makes human being just another brick in the wall or part of the
I have my doubts about those “anonymous leaks”, I think everybody skeptical does.
Too convenient for governments and politicians, to be persistently repetitive
ICIJ tried to launch anti-offshore campaign in 2013, after they received
especially big “leak”. It didn’t work out back then, because of some
uncomfortable, even dangerous for ICIJ knights, questions. This time, they
prepared better, and all the major are either keeping neutral, or openly
The main question still remains unanswered, and no doubt, will remain unanswered.
All those terabytes of offshore data were stolen. There are thousands or tens of
thousands names in there, with strictly private information. How legal is it (forget
about morals, we’re dealing with glorious knights, remember?), that a bunch of
self-proclaimed evil fighters has at its’ disposal private information on
thousands of individuals? Who’s to guarantee, that they (knights) won’t abuse it?
Use it for their own purposes? Actually, that’s what they already did – used it
for their own purposes, which are a far cry from unselfish stand for truth and
righteousness. They created a world-wide scandal without anything factual,
without nabbing any actual criminal. And they fuelled anti-offshore campaign,
and that, I believe, was the true task they’ve been given.
Be ICIJ bunch real truth-seekers, they’d at least explain, that there is nothing
illegal in offshore, that offshore is an instrument, like say, knife. Knife may
be used for cutting cake, or for murder, and no one yet demanded ban on knifes
as being too dangerous for us, stupid common folks, to use.
History of Journalism has Halls of Shame and of Fame. ICIJ definitely, is a
candidate for a Hall of Shame. ICIJ journalists are mercenaries without social
responsibility, not burdened with unnecessary scruples. They’re working in
favour of governments and some international organizations, like World Health
Organization, the mainstream of their activities leads to strengthening States
control over individuals, and restricting of personal freedom. They violate the
laws and get away with it, what other proofs one needs to understand the game
The ICIJ website has a special contact form for snitching, reporting leaks,
especially anonymous. Well, last week I sent them two of my investigations, on
Somalia piracy falsifications, and on ITF and affiliated trade unions activities
The sums of money involved aren’t all that disdainfully small, the names of
organizations are rather well-known. There’s no anonymity here, I’m the author
of those investigations, ready to stand up, even in court. Surprise, surprise –
I didn’t get any reply yet, even receipt acknowledgment.
April 11, 2016