Some put it on their parents, some on their children — the revelations in the Panama Papers about hidden offshore tax havens weigh heavily on the conscience and political futures of the global political elites, forcing some to pass the blame onto their loved ones.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the money is no longer his; it once was but now it's his father's.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also denies owning the riches exposed in the Panama Papers; he insists the money and properties belong to his children.

Also read: Lahore to Panama

Others have invoked conspiracy theories to deflect the blame. Some are wondering why American politicians and Israelis have escaped with their reputations intact.

But the fact is that Panama Papers have not spared Israelis. According to the Haaretz, almost 600 Israelis and 850 Israeli shareholders have been implicated in the Panama Papers. The Israeli tax authorities are gearing up to pursue those who tried to dodge the taxman.

But what about the Americans?

Have they avoided the Panama paper cuts?

The answer is yes.

A relatively small number of Americans have been named and shamed in the Panama Papers. But this is not the fruit of an American conspiracy to shame the rest, as the Russian oligarchs are saying openly.

In a similar vein, Global Times, a state-backed publication in China, in an editorial on April 5, has accused Western intelligence agencies of deliberately leaking the documents to embarrass non-Western leaders.

The recent history US-Panama relations explains why Americans are missing from this leak.

The Russians are also suspicious of the timing of this leak. They see the naming of Putin's close allies as an overt attempt to weaken his grasp on Russia's political power structure. Deutsche Welle (DW) reported from Panama Papers that Sergei Roldugin, a close friend of Mr Putin, was behind dubious deals and shell companies worth $2 billion.

Roldugin is a professional cellist. An analysis of his exposed riches shows he must have been earning north of $9.2 million a year. Not bad for a cellist!

Putin rushed to the defence of his friend and acknowledged that Roldugin was indeed wealthy and that the money was essentially used to buy musical instruments for Russia. One wonders how many cellos can one buy with $2 billion?

But coming back to why the Americans are missing from this leak, the recent history of Panama-US relations does the explaining.

In December 1989, the US invaded Panama, removed General Manuel Noriega (whom the US had backed and supported for decades) from power, and handed the power to the General's opponents. There is, and has never been, any love lost between the US and Panama.

It would have made no sense for the Americans to trust a Spanish-speaking, narco-based, democratically fragile country with their hard-earned (black or white) money, especially when Panama's citizens are quite likely to harbour great distrust of American interests in their affairs.

It would be no different from expecting Iraqis to hide their money in Kuwaiti banks knowing that the humiliation of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait is still fresh in Kuwaiti minds.

Mr Sharif and his children have to come clean.

Here in Pakistan, the government is in talks to set up a judicial commission after the 'Panama Papers' leak revealed that PM Nawaz's sons and daughter owned offshore companies.

Hassan Nawaz's interview with BBC

In a 1999 interview with the BBC, PM Nawaz's son Hassan Nawaz told programme presenter Tim Sebastian that he was merely 'renting' a flat in London's upscale Mayfair locality.

“I’m not earning. I’m just like any other student living with his parents. I don't necessarily have to know the facts and who owns the flat, and who pays for the rent and who pays for my living,” he told the BBC.

Mr Sebastian discloses the names of the two shell companies (Nielsen Enterprises Ltd. and Nescoll Ltd.) that he says "apparently" owned the property.

Hassan Nawaz pleaded ignorance in the interview. “I’ve got nothing to say about that. I’m absolutely ignorant. What can I say?”

See: Panama Papers — Who is going to ask Pakistanis to pay their taxes now?

While Hassan Nawaz might not have had much to say, the Panama Papers are speaking a lot and quite loudly. They link the ownership of the shell companies to the prime minister’s children.

The Mayfair property has been in the news since 1998, a year before Hassan Sharif’s interview with the BBC, when a report prepared by Rehman Malik, who had been suspended from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), was revealed by The Observer.

The newspaper, citing the FIA report, reported that the Sharif family owned four flats in London. Malik presented the 200-page report to then president Rafique Tarar.

For Messrs Cameron and Sharif, the Panama Papers spell serious trouble.

Trying to deflect attention from blatant attempts to hide riches from the tax authorities is not likely to work because, in the age of the Internet, assets, information and paramours can be exposed with the click of a mouse.


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