Within my scope of practice there are occasions when I have referenced the work of Transparency International. The “global coalition against corruption” is cited in scholarly papers across the world. My primary interest is related to the annual release of the Corruptions Perception Index. The chart gives the windshield tour in understandable manner for those of us who are neither economists nor statisticians.
Iceland has consistently performed well on the index. During a 2010-2015 window, this small country sported an admirably clean performance record which remains within the top ten percentile of surveyed nations. Somalia? It consistently ranks at the bottom of the chart, hence the exercise in futility to collect any new data. Somalia will remain a financial toilet flush into the 22nd century.
Jose Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, is like the song bird for noble creed:
“Corruption can be beaten if we work together. To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery, and shed light on secret deals, citizens together must tell their governments they have had enough.”
Perhaps the song bird was unaware of what lived and breathed within her own nest? The president of Transparency International’s branch in Chile comes to mind. Gonzalo Delavue has been relieved of his role within this watch dog organization. The Panama Papers exposed his personal link to a total of five offshore companies. In doggedly pursuing the wolves in sheep’s clothing were none aware that the wolf was already seated by the hearth? This raises a troubling scenario. Do heads of state and nations engage in bribery practices to better their rankings with Transparency International? After all, the news about Mr. Delavue is a stunning revelation on scale with discovery that your mother is selling brownies laced with marijuana to pay for your college education. It speaks of corporate betrayal.
What has been startling indeed is the rapid political descent of Iceland’s PM Sigmunder Gunnlauggson. Lauded as the youngest ever seated Prime Minister, he went from drinking his morning coffee and examining his calendar (set a year-in-advance) to politically homeless vagabond. And it happened in less than 48 hours. The initial small offering of 149 documents from the Panama Papers is part of an immense 2.6 terabyte data trove. Sunday, April 3rd dawned and shadows crested as headlines across the major news organizations. By April 5th, unlucky Sigmunder yielded his post. Better to yield, than to be publicly stripped of titular authority. He remains the head of the Progressive Party which catapulted him into office at 38 years of age. But he might as well stand amongst his peers shouting “unclean, unclean” in Hansen’s disease fashion. Mr.Gunnlauggson will be lucky to have one of his colleagues hand him a piece of pottery to scrape his sores.
The Panama Papers come down to one thing. Society has warlocks of greed. These nasty individuals cook their books, whip up their financial brews, and cast their dirty money laundering operations across the globe. They engage in organized crime and their occult financial practices don’t begin and end in Panama. The practices bounce about from Dubai to Switzerland, the United States to Saudi Arabia. It is the collusion of the powerful against norms of human decency.
Corruption is akin to a blighted crop. I prefer a top-down model for tackling corruption. Start at the top, and stay at the top. Start with the leaders and move to the institutions. Move from the institutions into the municipalities. Let none feel safe. But do begin at the top and allocate the majority of resources to fight corruption within the highest echelons of government. Clean up wealth management programs which use occult financial practices. And certainly, do not give oversight to a man such as Gonzalo Delavue.
This journalist is not anti-wealth. I remain a strident free market capitalist. There are individuals with tremendous gifts who are capable of wealth acquisition in legal manner. We need such men and women to lead from the front in managing transnational corporations and NGOs. What we do not need is one more replica of Jacob Zuma. In fact, the president of South Africa resides amongst an army of clones. That thought should depress us.
We give safe harbor the Warlocks of Greed. And in allowing safe harbor we are owned by them. The end point of corruption on national scale is the beginning point for hungry mouths. The trickle down from their ill-gotten gain is felt in gnawing fashion by children exhibiting the swollen bellies of the parasitic-infested chronically malnourished. Look into the eyes of the children. Hand them their own small piece of clay pottery to scrape their needless wounds.
Banking industry whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld suggests the C.I.A as the source of the Panama Papers leak. In an interview with CNBC he states, “The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States…. And we don’t see any U.S. name. Why is that? Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation.”
The opinion of Mr. Birkenfeld seems a bit too simplistic in the end. While the leak may indeed be the work of one of the seventeen (and now rumored to be eighteen) U.S. intelligence agencies, there seems a more plausible and practical reason for release of the identity of the warlocks. The mad scramble and financial divestment now flowing out of Panama may allow for seizure of assets to fund black budgets. As funds seeks a new “home” our own warlocks may crowd fund these resources into their own favorite projects.