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#ParadisePapers: Different rules for different folk

The biggest threat to peace in the world is the chasm between rich and poor.

Jacob Zuma, his supporters and the “white monopoly capital” lobbyists must be jumping with delight at the latest massive leak of information about the world’s mega-rich, dubbed the Paradise Papers.

An international network of investigative journalists, including our own amaBhungane, has been putting together stories out of a leaked stash of more than 13.4 million documents from 19 places around the world, which are known for their secrecy when it comes to dealing with financial arrangements for high net worth individuals and companies who are trying to dodge tax and other dues in their own countries.

Most of the documents are connected with Appleby, a law firm which has offices in “offshore” jurisdictions where rules are relaxed and scrutiny is virtually unheard of.

According to reports from the cache, many wellknown politicians, sports and entertainment stars – and even royals – are said to be involved. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s name has been one of those to emerge in connection with investments in consumer loans.

A number of high-profile South African companies and individuals are reported to be mentioned, including Johannesburg Stock Exchange mining group Glencore and Standard Bank. There has so far been no indication of wrongdoing on the part of either of them, but reports have alleged Illovo Sugar was involved in a scheme to dodge paying taxes in Zambia, which cost that country almost R40 million in lost revenue.

Whatever else emerges, we would agree with British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that revelations like this indicate there is one set of rules for ordinary people and another, completely different, set of rules for the superrich.

Whatever your politics, you cannot agree that is right and should be allowed to continue. The biggest threat to peace in the world is the chasm between rich and poor. This theft of countries’ money cannot be allowed to continue.



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