Oct 06, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – The Pandora Papers, compliments of a BBC online report on Sunday, October 3, other than for one out of place name, was not altogether surprising. The names and places of some of those fingered only confirm longstanding speculations, given the dedication of those leaders to secrecy, airtight controls, and a habit of dismissing those who object to the way they govern their societies. The big surprise is that some of Guyana’s leaders are not among this latest heavy-duty leak of what is secreted away in offshore financial havens.
The Pandora Papers continue the trend set by the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, and other sources of embarrassing multimillion plunders by national leaders. Crooked leaders understand that the odds are in their favour, since offshore financial havens offer tight secrecy and tighter firewalls aimed at thwarting leaks or disclosure of information. But, once again, the well-named Pandora Papers, with all sorts of disastrous leadership plagues unleashed, is a treasure trove of criminal misconduct by leaders. To be sure, it is a costly service, but that is not of too much concern, since tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are involved. And in this latest instance of determined investigative pursuit, almost 12 million files had to be reviewed to get to the nuggets buried deeply.
The effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) engaging the attention of more than 650 reporters did hit a gold mine of public figures, some known globally. Among those caught in the net were “35 current and former world leaders” as well as “300 public officials.” We are still surprised that Guyana’s political leaders, present and prior, are not among those whose names come up. It is quite likely that they are too slick for any such arrangement, and are more at home entrusting looted wealth with overseas family members, who are neck deep in possibly criminal collaborations, such as money laundering; hence, too deep in the web of wrongdoing, to let the cat out of the bag. That is, if they were ever so inclined in the first place. It must be understood that they and the leaders have neither morals nor scruples nor conscience nor even God.
Nonetheless, it is those that the Pandora Papers gave up that give us pause. There was the expected from one Middle Eastern location, another from Azerbaijan and sister state, the Ukraine. No surprises from those locations, since those leaders call the shots and have total control over the machinery of docile governments. The Pakistan of Imran Khan, former cricketing superstar, has its share of ministers and ranking officials identified in the self-enriching numbers stashed away overseas, which is, again, not a big surprise. Still, it is good to see that Imran Khan’s name was not mentioned, for we do not assess him in such dirty light. The Czech Prime Minister Babis looks like par for the course, and the mention of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin does not shock. What was surprising was that only the Kenyan President and a tight circle of six family members came up for dishonourable mention with millions secreted away. We expected to read of big names from Nigeria and Angola, but those could be in the next chapter of sordid leaders and their people.
As we at this paper see it, the biggest fishes trapped in the Pandora Papers dragnet are former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and spouse. Though the stamp duty amount evaded pales in comparison to that of the others, the fact that his name appears in such discredited company is a sign of how even the believed impeccable could get carried away. We admit that we can be charged with going a bit too gently on Mr. Blair and his wife, but we are still processing his presence in such a crowd. If a Tony Blair could end up there, what about those in Guyana who have chronic cheating, lying and vandalising in their blood? As sure as the tide ebbs and flows daily, they are somewhere in the massive crookedness that abounds in this land. It is just a matter of time before the rug is pulled from under them, and the light shines on their multimillion-dollar misdeeds.
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