Panama Papers: Atlas Shrugged gets real

World leaders from Iceland to China to Venezuela, in a parody of Galt's Gulch in Atlas Shrugged, head to Panama to hide money from the tax collector. And the amount is staggering.


WASHINGTON, April 6, 2016 — What do the families of eight current and former members of China’s ruling politburo have in common with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the King of Saudi Arabia and Bollywood A-listers?

They all would very much like to keep more of what they earn—or steal.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, records obtained by the German newspaper Suddeütsche Zeitug suggest that some of the world’s richest used the services of one of the world’s largest law firms, Panama’s Mossack Fonseca, to hide millions from the tax collector in dummy corporations established in offshore tax-havens such as Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands.

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Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson

Known as the “Panama Papers,” the documents reveal a global conspiracy by wealthy individuals to shelter their money from the designs of spendthrift governments anxious to divide the spoils among their pirate constituencies.

Ironically, some of these tax evaders are members of those same spendthrift governments.

In Iceland, for instance, high income earners are taxed at 46.9 percent, which may explain why Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson availed himself of Mossack Fonseca’s services.

He resigned after 8,000 government-dependent Icelanders surrounded the nation’s parliament in protest. Roughly 30 percent of Iceland’s gross domestic product depends on tax-supported government intervention—a considerable wealth-redistribution regime.

As the Bloomberg financial news service noted, in response to the 2008 financial crisis Iceland decided “to push losses on to [bank] bondholders instead of taxpayers” and safeguard the “welfare system that shielded the unemployed” and moved “the nation from collapse toward recovery.”

The Achilles’ heel of such a “recovery” is its reliance on easy and compliant marks—the suckers footing the bill. But as Bernie Madoff discovered, it’s hard to maintain a Ponzi scheme when the marks stop contributing.

Victor Weffer.
Victor Weffer

In the collapsing socialist paradise of Venezuela, the late strongman Hugo Chavez’s commander-in-chief of the army, Victor Cruz Weffer, and the director of state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, Jesús Villanueva, employed the services of Mossack Fonseca to hide public funds they stole from their nation’s starving masses.

And who can blame them? Venezuela’s government has been telling anyone who will listen that organized theft is noble when perpetrated by government. And both men were certainly members of that banana republic’s democratic socialist government.

David Geffen.
David Geffen

In the U.S., billionaire entertainment mogul David Geffen, co-founder of film studio DreamWorks, was also implicated. You may recall that Geffen abandoned his political support for Hillary Clinton in 2008 in favor of the upstart Barack Obama, who famously said, “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Mossack Fonseca also helped Venezuela and Obama’s new Cuban friends establish dummy corporations that laundered money and issued hundreds of bogus passports to members of the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

That last bit of information is not likely to generate much interest among the globe’s government-dependent, the souls overly obsessed by, as the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher observed, “other people’s money.”

Unfortunately for them, more and more of the world’s wealthy, like so many John Galts, appear ready to “stop the motor of the world” rather than “live for the sake of another man.”

And so they beat a path to the safe haven of Galt’s Gulch—wherever in this world they can find it.

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