This article was published on Derin Ekonomi Turkish magazine in Turkish language (2016)
The secret rooms of Swiss banks, The Luxenburg based companies, in the past, Panama, Virgin islands, Hong Kong today, just to quote some of several “off shore” shops, were perfect hideouts for tax evaders, laundering operations for narco-money and all kind of illegal or gray financial wrong doing. It got even a secondary effect, sort of pervertion, it put all together these categories of persons, evaders, criminals, corrupted politicians in the same bascket. Now heroes judges like Falcone were strugling to fight mafia and pushing Italian government to deliver laws that allowed prosecutors to “track the money” abroad.
So politicians had to build rules that could bring to discover illegal banking for mob finance. In this way they let the judges put their noses inside the same rooms where they could find, accidentaly, corruption evidences of political system (parties illegal funding, grease payments). Think again. No way. That was a reason because rules hardly comes and with not “perfect” shaping for the task. That was one reason because rules came often when an “external” pushing applies on a corrupted political system. It was the case of post Berlin wall european anticorruption framework. In Italy “Mani Pulite” (italian words that means clean hands) great scandal investigation, that erase almost 60 percent of old political system, started thanks to Usa pushing on Swiss bank system to authorized the record files release to italian prosecutors. Was it a political interference? No. The italian political system was deeply corrupted and unable to reform itself. That was a reason that explain why a corrupted system doesn’t fit for economy development of a country, it is a deadly poison. Sometimes works in a early stage of small economies.
But let us come back to our story. Panama papers put on the spot light, politicians, actors, sport stars and jet setters, but the greater interest was instead the “war on terror’s financial feeds” started by Washington, that even with all mistakes and hipocrisy, works seriously on the issue. Then the war on terrorism drove Us law enforcement agencies to ask for a more tight framework about international relations. In shortcut: all the states want to deal with Usa have to share financial informations about american citizens, criminals and terrorists hiding money in safe heavens, and labeled as a threat for Us security. More than one hundred countries (according to Us Tresaury department data are 112), signed or accepted the so called FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). Borne to pursue american tax evaders the agreement along time was shaped to expose criminals and terrorists financial networks. The file so called Panama papers is a byproduct of this covenant. Turkey signed it in June 2014, Italy (2015), Qatar (2014), Azebaijan (2015), Germany (2013), Japan (2013), Isle of Man (2015), Austria (2014) and recently Panama (agreement in substance) just to stress few of them. It was clear that searching for al Baghdadi & co “tresaure” the FATCA files could expose even other “sins”. We cannot build a conspiracy theory on it as Vladimir Putin try to do with Russian press. It is clear that intelligence agencies played a role. First of all because the matter: pursue Black Calipha money is not a task Tresaury investigators can accomplish by themselves (even they did a good job with Al Capone, long time ago). Second of all because it is a dangerous task that need to be accomplished though, skilled and “spook” guys. It happened even with the Falciani’s list, another leaks of foreigners with cyphered accounts from HKSB (Hong Kong and Shangay Bank). Langley hackers gave to Falciani a software able to extract whatever he need from his bank server. He explained it during a tv interview. Now is time to stress something that is a keypoint. Is the use of intelligence agencies, in this case Us ones, an interference in foreign countries policy? Let me tell that is the main mantra of all dictators and regimes, that considers their countries as a private property. They like soo much missrule and loot their own citizens without interferences. At the same time history teach us that “dirty games” are part of political means in international scene too, even for economical pourposes and Italy is a good example. So is very important try to understand the difference between the two cases and is a basic duty for journalists.