No noise about the Panama Papers Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 April 2016 00:00

The so called Panama Papers have taken the financial world by storm, 2.6 terabytes of information with 11 million files have caused much concern across the world. It is of so much concern that one head of state, the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, opted to resign from his post. This came after the files obtained from the Panamanian law firm Mossack and Fonseca proved that he did not declare millions of dollars in assets. He used the law firm to create shell companies which were set up to hide his assets.

The leak of financial records was revealed over this past weekend after the information was passed over to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung which shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIIJ). They in turn shared it with over a hundred news agencies and have promised to release it in its entirety next month. In the meantime over 300 investigative journalists have poured over the documents and have so far determined that 12 current or former world leaders as well as 128 other politicians can be linked to the Panama Papers.

It seems that the company Mossack and Fonseca had through its offshore operations been doing business with all manner of persons both with legitimate businesses, world leaders and even criminal elements all over the world. Belize having its fair share of offshore operations is also connected to the Panama Papers. That connection comes by way of Michael Ashcroft. According to the ICIIJ Belize Corporate Services (BCS) which is a subsidiary to BCB Holdings began using Mossack Fonseca to provide shell companies for its clients in 2006. BCS reportedly also owns Belize Bank International and Belize Bank Limited.

In November of 2013 Belize Bank International established a new company owned by Jurgen Mossack,  Ramon Fonseca and Christopher Zollinger. The new firm is called M.F. & Co. (Belize) Limited and that company along with BCS created companies and acted as registered agents in Belize. Belize has an International Financial Services Commission which says M.F. & Company Belize Limited is located at #15 ‘A’ Street Belize City, which is the same location where Eamon Courtenay has his law firm. Courtenay is a PUP appointed Senator so his name even being called in the entire ordeal proves that the ICIIJ’s report that the Panama Papers implicate a number of politicians is not untrue, at least not in Belize.

On Tuesday of this week, Channel 7 News reported that they contacted Courtenay who told them that Prudential Trust Corporation Ltd which handled the M.F. & Company account is registered by the International Financial Services Commission of Belize and that any queries regarding their operations should be directed to them or to Mossack Fonseca in Panama.

That kind of response is the quintessential reason for the setting up of shell companies. With the gates guarded by attorneys who know the law and can bypass legal requirements, shell companies are created and are guarded in this fashion making it virtually impossible to determine who owns the companies. Now the question is, what kind of ramifications exist when the address of a PUP Senator’s business address can be linked to the doings of a company like Mossack  and Fonseca?

Those who are always all too ready to make noise about these kinds of things seem to be mute on the subject and we wonder why that is?