The Money Shot: Panama brouhaha

Image of a Panama hat
Hats off to Panama!
"You could almost hear the sphincters of the rich and famous tightening as more and more were named"
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

Chances are before this week the only thing you knew about Panama is that it has a canal and a rather dashing hat named after it, but all that has changed.

The Panama Papers scandal erupted at the beginning of the week, showering 11.5 million leaked files from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world's largest offshore law firms.

You could almost hear the sphincters of the rich, famous and powerful tightening as more and more were named for having moved money into offshore accounts using the law firm.

So why such a fuss? They're legal after all.

Well, the documents showed how more than a few fat cats from around the globe were potentially using them to avoid paying taxes and to work around legislations.

Offshore bank accounts don't exactly have a sparkling reputation.

Rather, they tend to conjure up an image of men smoking cigars, rolling around in a huge pile of money.

But they're completely legal when used correctly.

However this is the sticking point. The thick cloak of secrecy that surrounds the accounts makes it difficult to uncover any wrongdoing.

Political bigwigs including Barack Obama and our very own prime minister David Cameron have stepped up to demand that the veil of mystery be cast aside, in a bid to expose the seedy underbelly to the blinding light of justice.

However, Cameron was quickly and unceremoniously knocked off his high horse after he revealed he had his own offshore account which he sold the shares to before he became PM.

Not all of Mossack Fonseca's clients are under scrutiny for less-than-legal activities, but it's fair to say we're nowhere near the bottom of this gargantuan can of worms.

So what's the latest? The Financial Conduct Authority has ordered 20 UK banks to investigate whether they have any links to Mossack Fonseca and an international panel is being set up by the Panama government to combat secrecy surrounding offshore accounts.

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News in brief

One lucky so-and-so has claimed the biggest UK lottery jackpot of all time, a champagne-popping £35.1m. The Milky Bars are on them!

House prices have exploded by a staggering 10.1% in the past year according to research by Halifax. The steep rise has been attributed to the price of London flats inflating at an eye-watering rate.

A brand new original Rembrandt painting has been created using a 3D printer and data from existing paintings to help mimic the famous artist's style.

Money Shot letters

Dear the Money Shot,

I think it's absolutely ludicrous that my beloved Camra is considering 'a broader celebration of all things beer'.

You're completely correct, when I read the Money Shot upon April Fool's Day I thought it was a hoax, quite a wheeze really. I was going to tell my Camra friends all about it at the Butcher's Arms later. But alas, you were telling the truth.

What is this world coming to? What next? We all sit around chatting about fashion, sharing a pitcher of Woo Woo. I think not!

Yours furiously,

Norman Beechgrove, Bicester

Join us next week for another boot-scooting edition of the Money Shot. Until then send us your letters