April 6th, 2016
The revelations in Panama Papers have shaken the entire world and the ripples are being felt everywhere from politics to corporate and from the entertainment industry to sports arenas. Individuals who have been alleged guilty of setting up ghost offshore entities for tax avoidance are being in denial mode and are outright dismissing the leaked papers. Yesterday, Iceland’s Prime Minister, whose name had featured in Panama Papers and who too had denied all allegations of wrongdoing, stepped down from his position amid uproar inside and outside the country’s Parliament. This is the first resignation from the listed individuals who are currently holding office.
Allegations in Panama Papers: Iceland’s PM Sigmunder David Gunlaugsson’s name emerged from the first set of leaks where it was mentioned that he and his wife had set up a company in the British Virgin Islands to hide millions of pounds with the help of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. It is claimed that the company had investments in several failed Icelandic banks which come under the direct purview of the government. The banks had come under severe debt during the financial crisis of 2008 when the country’s entire debt was pegged at over seven times its GDP.
Clamour to resign: Coming under scanner when his name featured in the Panama list, PM David, who headed a coalition govt, faced a motion of no-confidence from the opposition in the Parliament. But seeking to underplay the findings of the reports, he refused to resign from his post and suggested to call for snap elections if he was to lose the confidence motion. Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators started to protest outside the Parliament, throwing eggs and yoghurt at the building and calling for Mr David to step down. As the pressure grew from outside as well as from inside the parliament, David Gunlaugsson resigned from his office and asked his deputy, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, to take over.
Other powerful personalities: This is the first instance of any accused individual around the world vacating the public office. Several other public personalities who are yet to take an action include Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, Sergey Roldugin who is said to be a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and family members of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Two Indian politicians: Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal and Anurag Kejriwal, the former chief of the Delhi Loksatta Party, are also mentioned in the Papers. It is important for people in positions of power to step down so that a fair investigation can take place. This is evident from happenings in China where govt is heavily censoring social media posts on Panama Papers. It is to be seen what scenarios unfold in various countries around the world and whether the culprits are brought to justice in due course. The Logical Indian would sincerely urge the politicians in power around the world to step down and start a fair and transparent probe into the allegations on them so that the truth which comes out could be accepted by all. – Abhishek Mittal