Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Will the Panama Papers affect Slovak politics?

Suspecting politics to be dirty, and having a map of the kleptocracy’s secret hoardings are two entirely different things.

A marquee of the Arango Orillac Building lists the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama City.(Source: AP/TASR)

No one with even a rudimentary understanding of human nature will have been surprised by the news that some world leaders have squirreled away millions (billions) in secret bank accounts beyond the reach of tax authorities. It’s been the stuff of political thrillers for decades, and more lately has everywhere fueled the rise of anti-establishment parties, with their premise that “a voter is a shit, a voter perceives just the mere surface“.

But suspecting politics to be dirty, and having a map of the kleptocracy’s secret hoardings are two entirely different things. The former is a doubt that can co-exist with faith in human governance; the latter destroys it. And that is why the Panama Papers need to be treated with more caution than has so far been displayed.

Read also:Slovaks allegedly involved in Panama Papers

The records of the Panama law firm that triggered the latest scandal are of course not the first financial leak concerning business and political leaders. And like past leaks, they have a crucial shortcoming – they don’t tell us how the funds in each account were accumulated, or even whether they were first taxed before being hidden. Not to mention why they had to be concealed – to avoid embarrassment or prosecution? Or to prevent seizure by an autocratic government?

Do they come from terrorism, from drug smuggling, from corruption? Or from unethical behaviour such as trading weapons or hard-to-renew commodities, like wood from protected areas?

Accordingly, the initial reports of who owns how much where, while titillating, cannot be considered investigative stories.

Yes, it may look bad, but appearance is not necessary reality, and certainly is insufficient to support decisive legal action. It’s enough to stir passions among voters, but not enough to change the behavior of our elites (beyond perhaps changing the people tasked with hiding their loot).

Finally, the material that led to these first reports has been shared out with a limited number of media, reducing the amount of reporting that can be done, and giving an incentive to those with access to exaggerate the importance of what they find.

But the importance of such information might be groundbreaking for the perception of democracy in the world. Potentially it could endorse the widespread conviction that we are all ruled by oligarchs with minimum respect to their homeland, their compatriots, and to laws and principles.

And that is mainly why it’s necessary to wait until we know more.

So while the Panama Papers undoubtedly have the potential to shake the world order, until they are provided for public inspection – like the US State Department cables on Wikileaks – that potential will not be fully realized.

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

Fallen lines and engine fires: Slovak trains are not without incidents Photo

Slovak rail carrier ZSSK is facing a massive wave of criticism after some recent accidents.

Fire on a train between Šaľa and Galanta.

Rules for hiring foreigners are simpler. For exceptions

Despite positive changes, employers still point to some barriers preventing more effective and simpler recruitment of foreign workers.

Some problems with Foreigners’ Police continue.

For a Decent Slovakia protests to resume on Friday

After a summer break, organisers of the protests that have drawn masses to Slovakia’s streets stated that their – and the citizens’ – demands are far from being met.

For A Decent Slovakia march on June 22, 2018, in Bratislava.

Indentikit picture released in murder case of Ján Kuciak may have bourne fruit

A mason from the village where the murdered journalist and his fiancée were found claims he knows the man from the identikit who is wanted for questioning.

Identikit of the man wanted as a witness in the case of Ján Kuciak murder