Wednesday, April 6, 2016

News about the Panama Papers is spreading, but is anyone surprised?

   Over one year ago, an anonymous source reached out to a German newspaper in order to pass on a collection of documents related to a law firm located in the country of Panama. In all, there were 11.5 million documents, dating back to 1977, that contained information on 214,000 entities, including companies, trusts and foundations. That original newspaper gave the information to an international group of investigative journalists to try and make sense of the overwhelming amount of data contained in the leak. The files show how clients of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian Law Firm, were able to launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid taxes from countries around the world. The Australian Broadcast Corporation wrote on Monday:

Using complex shell company structures and trust accounts Mossack Fonseca services allow its clients to operate behind an often impenetrable wall of secrecy. Mossack Fonseca's success relies on a global network of accountants and prestigious banks that hire the law firm to manage the finances of their wealthy clients. Banks are the big drivers behind the creation of hard-to-trace companies in tax havens.

   As more and more news outlets begin picking up the story of the Panama Papers, more and more people are beginning to catch little bits and pieces of the scale of this story. The world is learning how many people are involved. Already the Prime Minister of Norway has resigned, after it was shown that he and his wife were hiding assets in off-shore accounts that created conflicts of interest and not revealing them in his election to office. There is a website showing the families of world leaders who are currently known to be involved:
   Here is the thing: this story is apparently huge, yet not everyone will learn about it, not everyone will care, and most everyone will soon forget it. Why is that? Could it be that we have all become so dulled, desensitized, and basically not-surprised about bad news after what seems like forever? And the volume of bad news seems only to be increasing.
   That is what is so fascinating about the Easter story; good news spread quickly. Despite the efforts of Roman authorities and Jewish non-believers, the flow of information about an empty tomb and then repeated appearances of a Palestinian man who had died but was now alive could not be ignored. I think people crave Good News. I think people want to tell about it. There is not enough of it in the world. Here is goes again from 1 Corinthians 6:14: Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
   Grace and peace, Scott

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