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It’s disgusting, we all pay taxes to support our schools and hospitals, but the Panama leaks prove that the 1% don’t, instead they stash their money in offshore tax havens.

Any of us might go to jail for doing the same, but the rich hire lawyers to help them get away with it. Even top politicians are doing it, so it’s no surprise they haven’t passed laws to stop it! But this is all over the news and our leaders are feeling the heat.

A huge leak of data from Panama has exposed a web of secret offshore companies that has allegedly been used to hide wealth, evade taxes and launder money. Hundreds of politicians, business people and sportspeople, including 72 current or former heads of state, have been implicated in the findings published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The report is based on a data leak from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm, Its corporate slogan sums up the firm’s mission, to help the rich stay rich: “Wealth management as you deserve it” of 11.5m records for 214,488 entities connected to people in more than 200 countries or territories. The leak includes emails, financial spreadsheets, passport information and corporate records. It spans almost 40 years, from 1977 through to the end of 2015.

We have no right to point fingers at others when a huge number of our very own renowned personalities are involved in these leaks starting off with our PM Nawaz Sharif & his family, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif & relatives, former PM Benazir Bhuttos nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery, Javed Pasha a very close friend of Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Senator Rehman Malik & Osman Saifullah’s family, Zain Sukhera (co-accused with former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son in the Hajj scandal). Coming to our business tycoons; Real Estate Czar Malik Riaz Hussain’s son, Chairman ABM Group of Companies Azam Sultan, Pizza Hut owner Aqeel Hussain and family, Chairman Soorty Enterprise Abdul Rashid Soorty and family, Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman of Habib Bank Limited, Khawaja Iqbal Hassan, former NIB bank President, Bashir Ahmed and Javed Shakoor of Buxly Paints, Mehmood Ahmed of Berger Paints, Hotel tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani and family, Owner of Hilton Pharma, Shehbaz Yasin Malik and family, Hussain Dawood family, Abdullah family of Sapphire Textiles, Gul Muhammad Tabba of Lucky Textiles, Shahid Nazir, CEO of Masood Textile Mills, Zulfiqar Ali Lakhani, from Lakson Group and owner of Colgate-Palmolive, Tetley Clover and Clover Pakistan, Zulfiqar Paracha and family of Universal Corporation.

If the Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman of GEO and Jang Group wasn’t a shock the judges surely were I mean what kind of justice will we get if the justice giving authorities are involved in all this too? Serving Lahore High Court Judge Justice Farrukh Irfan & Retired Judge Malik Qayyum.

Where does the money flowing offshore come from? The information is hard to discover because real owners usually hide behind nominees, people with no real control and no assets in the company who simply lend their signature. A small sample of about 13,000 owners from all over the world, recently compiled by Mossack Fonseca, gives some indication. China and Russia top the list. There are 11.5m documents and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database which is much more than wiki leaks.

Panama, as other tax havens have bowed to international pressure to become more transparent, its reputation as a haven for dirty money has become entrenched too.

What does Mossack Fonseca say about the leak? Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due diligence on all its clients. It says it regrets any misuse of its services and tries actively to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be blamed for failings by intermediaries, who include banks, law firms and accountants.

The Panama Papers should encourage each and every one of us to understand that we have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to reverse this terribly destructive course we’ve permitted our leaders to take. Let the Panama Papers serve as a warning to all of us not to turn a blind eye on legalized crimes. Let the people of Vermont encourage all of us to take action.

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