Iceland's PM Finds Refuge in Panama

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA  – Because of a singular tendency on the part of many humans to promote their own interests while pretending to look out for the needs of others, the tiny island nation of Iceland is once again in the news.


Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, took his bullet early, after revelations in the Panama Papers singled him out as using offshore tax havens to conceal his wealth, after having promised voters in his Progressive Party in 2013 that he would clean up the mess caused by Iceland’s massive banking failures in the global financial meltdown of 2008.


He took his bullet earl by resigning the day after the disclosures became a global phenomenon and a global reality.


But that left open the question of where he would go. A solitary reporter figured that out: he sought and received political asylum in Panama, at the mansion of Ramon Fonseca Mora, a co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal. Mossack Fonseca is only one of a large number of law firms which specialize in creating offshore tax havens in places like the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Belize. Panama’s lax corporate taxation laws are closely modeled on those of Delaware, the First State in the land of the free and the home of the brave.


On Monday, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung announced that 11.5 million confidential documents had been leaked from Mossack Fonseca to investigative journalists. These documents, dubbed the "Panama Papers," reveal how client affiliates of Mossack Fonseca hid billions of dollars in tax havens. Comprising documents dating to the 1970s, the 2.6-terabyte set was given to Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2015 by an anonymous source, and was subsequently turned over to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.


Among the beneficiaries of this previously secret sweetheart arrangement are family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the president of Sudan, Lieutenant-General Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, but thousands of Sudanese are salivating at the opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of his "national salvation," and would like to see him permanently incarcerated in the Hague.


The Panama Papers show that Gunnlaugsson and his wife secretly owned an offshore firm that held millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during that country’s financial crisis. When confronted with his dishonesty in this affair in a television interview two days ago, Gunnlaugsson walked out, saying he knew nothing about it. On Tuesday, after massive protests interrupted in Reykjavík, he resigned, claiming he had done nothing illegal, but obviously bowing to political reality.


The solitary reporter asked Fonseca Mora what he thinks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The wealthy Panamanian lawyer and novelist said that he admires Trump very much, but that he is miffed because Trump has never invited him to visit him at his exclusive Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City.


Our associate solitary reporter, John Jones, caught up with Trump as he was campaigning at breakneck speed in New York. Trump was unusually grumpy because of this catastrophic loss to Ted Cruz Cruz in Wisconsin on Tuesday. But Jones, an intrepid journalist, did manage to ask The Donald what he thinks about the entire Panama Papers controversy. “I think it’s a great idea,” Trump said, as he mauled protesters at a huge rally in Westchester County. “I just wish I had known about it sooner."




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