“There’s a leak, a big leak. There’s been a big leak.”
Frightening words indeed, especially when shouted up from down below while your boat is sailing close hauled in 25kts of wind with the rail under.
Charlie quickly handed the helm to a crew member and rushed below to check out the situation only to be told that the leak was a report in the media about sensitive and confidential documents in files held in a financial institution in Panama that had been exposed and open to public scrutiny. Pheeew, Charlie was relieved! The two lawyers though, who had picked up the news on a laptop, were in an undeniable state of excitement. The exposé was already nicknamed ‘The Panama Papers’. Apparently it named numerous powerful people including heads of states, dodgy dictators, and known criminals who had stashed millions in banks and accounts in various offshore jurisdictions.
There was an immediate outcry from masses of ordinary folks and regular taxpayers who were crying foul; so much so that the hierarchy in political circles in America and Europe had to address this question once again.
Why was it that loopholes existed whereby the super-rich could avoid taxes when government debts were spiraling out of control? The answer of course is that financial experts and their lawyers have engineered successful and legal protocols in offshore tax havens like small Caribbean countries in order to keep the names of rich investors secret.
Meanwhile First World politicians demand more transparency to expose tax dodgers, crooks and potential terrorists to boost government coffers and to appease a rebellious public.
It’s a fine line that small offshore jurisdictions have to tread; on the one hand they need to maintain confidentiality for their clients whilst assuring the detractors of open and fair transparency. It requires firm assertions, confidence and sometimes a devious mind.
Sailing is all about balance too, as are many things in life. A well balanced sailboat driven hard will win the race. A well balanced diet will result in good health. A good lawyer who can avoid a law rather than evade a law will find success.
Sometime ago the owner of a popular Caribbean beach bar, which had become famous for selling mugs of psilocybin mushroom tea at its full moon parties, was challenged by the police to stop the practice or face a summons. “Selling of narcotics is prohibited,” he was told. At the very next full moon party mushroom tea was offered free. But it could only be served to those with a special mug – price $20.00.
Charlie heard through the grape vine that the owner had recently been offered a lucrative assignment as consultant to the financial services commission.
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.