Mossack Fonseca – The Panama Files
The Facts about Panama and other tax Havens like the United States
Let’s review the facts of offshore asset protection:
It’s not illegal. There are plenty of reasons to open a bank account or a corporate structure in another country, like a limited liability company (LLC), in an offshore jurisdiction, especially if you are in a lawsuit-prone profession like medicine or have investments that the investors come from different tax jurisdiction.
One of the valid reasons for operating offshore is if you just feel like it. It’s your right as a human being.
The United States is of course the world’s No. 1 tax-evasion and money-laundering haven. The U.S. government does not practice any of the things it preaches to other countries through stupid laws like the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). It hasn’t even signed the Common Reporting Standards for tax information adopted by the rest of the world.
Foreigners who want to create a trust or corporation in the U.S. to avoid taxes in their home country are perfectly free to do so, and there is no mechanism by which the U.S. government can report them. With some exceptions, foreigners are also free to buy real estate for cash and register it in the name of a U.S. LLC that is virtually untraceable. That’s the reason places like Miami and Manhattan have such stratospheric real estate markets. It’s not because of the quality of life offered.
Corruption and tax evasion are crimes — in the jurisdictions where they occur. Although law firms like Mossack Fonseca are accountable to the governments and bar associations where they have offices, it’s not their job to enforce national laws. In this case, it seems likely that Mossack Fonseca has knowingly violated Panamanian and other laws— but that’s not a reason to regard all of their clients, or the clients of similar firms, as likely criminals.