Secret Havens and Hidden Merchants
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we explore something that has caused rulers to tremble and has put shame on the faces of hundreds, even thousands of very wealthy people, some in very prominent positions on this earth. It has been a massive embarrassment to sports figures, Hollywood stars, and business tycoons. It has brought nobility low and made a mockery out of two-faced national and global leaders.
I hope and pray that you are uniting with Christ today, my friends. We are about to go through a terrible ordeal and we need Jesus to stand by our side in this great conflict. But Christ has given you all that you need. If you trust Him and trust His word, He will see to it that you are successful and arrive at your heavenly home. If you live your life in harmony with His word, and do not weaken in the face of threat and loss, He will see to it that you are saved in the end.
Before we go any further, let us bow our heads in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirit to teach us today. Our Father in heaven, we are forever thankful for the love of Christ that motivated Him to give His life for us, and which constrains us to live for Him. Today, we pray that Your Holy Spirit will teach us about the practical things of this world and how we are to relate to the concentrations of wealth that are found on this planet. As we open Your word, we pray that You will enlighten us with the signs of the times. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Please open your Bibles, if you can, to Proverbs 3:13-18. Let us read these compelling and meaningful verses. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
Let me ask you, do you have wisdom? Do you have understanding? If you do, you have more than the wealthiest man on earth. One ounce of God’s wisdom is worth billions of tons of gold bullion. While that is a bit of hyperbole, it is nevertheless truth. God’s wisdom far surpasses the wisdom of this world. It exceeds that of the businessmen that ride its streets in their tinted window limousines and hide behind barred gates. They cannot find true peace.
If you are going to find peace and happiness, you must have God’s true wisdom. But so many are searching for money and wealth.
Do you wish you had more money? Think about what it would be like if you had all the money you would want. How would you spend it? What kind of house would you live in? What kind of car would you drive? In what kind of indulgences would you imbibe? Have you ever thought about the consequences of being wealthy? Wealthy people have to seriously worry about their money. They have to try to keep it a secret, especially if they have not paid many taxes on it. Wealthy people sometimes have to take care to protect their lives and the lives of their families. They have worked so hard to get it, and now they have to worry to protect it. They don’t have peace. They have to worry about everyone taking advantage of them. They have to put fences around their estates. They have to put security guards at the gates. They have to have body guards when they travel. It’s not easy being excessively wealthy.
And the outrageously wealthy help each other become more shockingly wealthy. Many of them are in power, and they use their power to become even more enormously wealthy, and they use their massive wealth to keep their stranglehold on power, all the while keeping their millions hidden from the taxman. Many of these are the very ones who are in charge of globalization.
There is an open secret that covers darker and less open secrets. The secret involves a city so powerful that it has elected leaders in its grip who protect it from scrutiny. That city is hardly known to most people though it is in plain sight. It has its own way of doing business, not like other cities around the world. It plays by its own rules, and its shadowy influence spans the globe. It is a truly global city, especially economically and financially, and it hides its most important activities under the cover of shell companies located in far flung havens that provide legal protection from prying eyes like government tax departments or justice departments. This city owns only 1.2 square miles of prime real estate in the center of a much larger city. It is a city within a city. This city has it own laws it’s own police force, and its own financial structure. It is an ancient city that is like a “prehistoric monster, which [has] mysteriously survived into the modern world,” said one person a long time ago. That “monster” sucks money out of the world’s economy and puts it into the pockets of the superrich.
I’m talking about the City of London. I don’t mean the big city of London sprawling across southern England. I’m talking about the City of London Corporation that is the 1.2 square miles of central London carved out of the expansive metropolitan region. Its run by its own governing body, separate from the United Kingdom. Known as London’s financial sector, the City of London is run by a corporation and has its own police force. It has its own hidden cash resources, which buy off any dissent or opposition to its special status in the British parliament or the government. When you understand something of the City of London, you will see many pieces of the globalist puzzle fitting together.
The corporation is an “offshore island” inside Britain, a tax haven in its own right and is a very, very wealthy city. But it is more than that. It is the mother of tax havens. It sits atop a web of island protectorates, territories, crown dependencies, and even some nations, all of which are designed to provide financial cover for the super-wealthy, the über-rich. They each have a governor that is appointed by the British government, and are protected by the British military, and the British political system. Though they are mostly tiny little dots on a global map, billions of dollars or pounds pass through them each year.
The banking system based in the City of London has its economic tentacles stretching across the globe, and is responsible for sucking the economic strength out of governments and people everywhere. It has an economic stranglehold on the planet. And consequently it also has a political stranglehold on the nations where it operates. There are 21 legislatures under Westminster’s umbrella, and these include the governments that oversee by far the most important network of tax havens in the world. Here is where the rich not only avoid taxes, but they also avoid regulations and other pesky laws that the rest of us have to live by.
But most of all, they provide secrecy. This makes them more than “tax havens.” They are an escape for the rich from prying eyes, government inspectors, and law enforcement. These havens are not set up that way for the benefit of their own citizens. They are set up for the wealthy. And the outcome is one set of rules for the super-wealthy elite and another set of rules for the rest of us.
No wonder Britain exacted special concessions from the EU before joining, like opt-out votes on certain EU policies. No wonder Great Britain debates whether to even stay in the EU or not. It does not want to give the EU control of the system of financial secrecy rooted in the City of London Corporation and its world-wide tax havens.
But legal concessions are the reason for the Corporation’s existence, its very history. Over the centuries, sovereigns and governments requested loans from the City of London, and in the process many hundreds of years ago the City extracted privileges and freedoms, sometimes called “ancient rights” from rules and laws that the rest of Britain must follow. And now, through its many and varied offshore havens stretching from the Crown dependencies such as the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey to the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and even some islands in the South Pacific and Hong Kong, it offers a secret home for the superrich and their money. It hides and protects capital flight from Africa, Iceland, Russia and the nations of the former soviet union, and anywhere else, for that matter. Oh friends, the old saying still applies. The sun never sets on the British Empire.
Ironically, many of these island nations were vital parts of the English tradition of piracy. Over the last 100 years, “Britain has switched from a land empire to a [largely hidden] financial empire; from conquering the world, to laundering its money, through treasure islands distributed across the planet, hiding pots of gold for corrupt leaders, tax dodgers, drug dealers and embargo breachers.”
The City of London is still actively protecting its so-called “ancient rights.” In 2010 it paid for more than half of the Conservative Party’s election campaign, ensuring [David] Cameron’s narrow victory to the Prime Ministership. He must, in turn, protect them, which makes any significant new regulations on finance after the 2008 economic crisis politically impossible. And when a country makes new regulations demanding that offshore bank accounts must advise the tax office in the country of origin, it is easily dodged.
Cameron came under fire for his father’s offshore real estate connections from which his father made a fortune and on which he paid no tax. It was also Cameron who said in 2015 that corruption is “the cancer at the heart of so many of the world’s problems,” and promised transparency about business ownership in the UK. However, Cameron also allegedly lobbied the European Union against transparency of financial dealings after he had pocketed money from his own offshore trusts. “The extraordinary revelations in the [so-called] Panama Papers have drawn attention to how little action there has been to match this rhetoric.”
Among those in the know Britain has, for some time now, been considered the global capital for criminal money laundering. Though Britain’s anti-corruption laws are some of the strictest, they are only on paper when it comes to the City of London. The network of offshore entities avoids all those legal restrictions. And so, the City of London is a playground for kleptocrats.
The effect of the City of London was stated clearly by Clement Attlee, who in 1937 worked to abolish the Corporation. “Over and over again,” he said, “we have seen that there is in this country another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which has been decided by the people.” Obviously, he lost his bid to eliminate the Corporation, but the issue he raised is quite prescient. Freedom for money can lead to bondage for ordinary people.
The City of London’s system of offshore havens along with legions of estate agents, lawyers, art dealers and flunkies, lines the pockets of the wealthy with dirty money, to which they are addicted. That same “dirty money breeds moral corrosion, undermines faith in the democratic system, neuters Britain’s foreign policies and development aid, and helps to price people out of the housing market.”
The City of London is an integral part of the circuit that includes Panama, the British Virgin Islands and other offshore centres. Though most court cases deal with low-level criminals, people who have plundered billions from their countries are left in peace, as are the banks and advisers who assist them.”
Fast forward to today. It started with an email in early 2015: “Hello, this is John Doe. Interested in data?”
“We are very interested,” replied a journalist for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a large German daily, in Munich. The resulting exchange involved internal documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The source did not ask for compensation, only security measures. He claimed his life was in danger, but that he wanted to make “these crimes public.”
Then, a year later on April 3, 2016, many of the world’s elite suffered a rude awakening. That morning an international network of reporters began releasing the product of a year’s worth of work, an epic document dump, the largest ever of its kind, for the pubic to see, involving more than 214,000 companies and 14,000 clients of Mossack Fonseca.
The Panama Papers as the documents are called, reveal an unprecedented pattern of corruption worldwide going back 40 years, in some cases, and implicates a string of world political leaders, rogue governments, business tycoons, sports and Hollywood figures, and others, some of whom have plundered the masses for their own benefit and have been hiding their ill-gotten gain in shell companies registered in tax havens around the world, many of which are part of the British economic empire. This sensitive cache of documents hits the superrich in particular and exposes them to public scrutiny, the very thing they were trying to avoid.
The 2.6 terabytes of information containing 11.5 million files, including 4.8 million emails, and 2.5 million legal documents, concerning the records of Mossack Fonseca, is several times larger than the cache of offshore data published by WikiLeaks in 2013.
The leak reveals the astonishing details of thousands of shell companies and offshore holdings of people all over the world, some of them at the very top echelons of power. These details are normally hidden from public view and the average citizen usually lacks the motive and/or the resources to make use of such facilities. The services of the law firm Mossack Fonseca are not cheap, and only the really wealthy can afford them. Mossack Fonseca denies any wrongdoing and claims they are a responsible member of the global financial community.
But Panama is known as an offshore tax haven, a place where assets can be placed to avoid taxation including real estate as well as cash. There are far more nefarious reasons for using such offshore havens however, such as to provide a way to launder drug money, hide weapons deals, fund terrorist groups or rogue nations, skim money donated from international aid organizations like the IMF, and other criminal activities.
The information is likely to have a long shelf life, and the scale of it will impact many who would otherwise be anonymous as far as their extreme wealth is concerned. The massive leak seems to be only the tip of the iceberg, since there are many such tax havens around the world, and thousands of so-called “off-shore” law firms that do the same thing as Mossack Fonseca.
Right from the start, many important world leaders and global figures and their associates have been implicated or fingered in the revelations. Some of them who embraced anti-corruption platforms are featured throughout. One trail appears to connect Russian President Vladimir Putin to a string of secret holdings in a money laundering ring run by a Russian bank tied to his associates, including a $2 billion offshore slush fund. He is not alone. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko set up an account for his substantial wealth in the British Virgin Islands while his troops were being slaughtered by the Russians. Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, got stiff pressure to resign from his post, which he did after struggling to explain his holdings in a shady offshore company at the time of Iceland’s economic collapse. They allegedly increased substantially during Iceland’s economic crisis. The list of people involved in such dealings includes senior figures in the Middle East, Africa, China’s Politburo and Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri.
Ownership of offshore accounts is not illegal in itself. However, offshore bank accounts traditionally provide a venue that can be exploited for shady dealings, but they also offer low-tax or no-tax environments where the superrich may keep their wealth away from the taxman. Needless to say, these leaders don’t want the world to know just how much untaxed money they have squirreled away in these offshore havens. Nor do they want the world to know where. While some involved in Mossack Fonseca may escape the scandal relatively unscathed; it exposes a truth about which most people really had no idea.
Friends, for these super-wealthy people the revelations of Mossack Fonseca are a seismic earthquake of massive proportions. Not only were the clients of Mossack Fonseca exposed, their holdings in companies and other entities around the world in some cases were exposed as well, for there are links and connections that spread everywhere in the web of shell companies created by Mossack. It would be a greater surprise to many if the leaders of some countries didn’t have offshore accounts, considering the long history of private wealth or corruption some nations have.
But repercussions are sure to come. In countries where the people suspected that elites were embezzling money but could not prove it, evidence will now likely be available. China was already conducting a corruption probe aimed at rooting out party members with large bank accounts abroad. President Xi Jinping may find the list helpful. But it also implicates his brother-in-law who is mentioned among other Chinese officials on the list from Mossack Fonseca. Some may lose their jobs and even their freedom over their connection to Mossack.
Putin’s spokesman tried to deflect attention from his holdings by suggesting that the revelations were an attempt by the West to smear him when he has shown good faith in withdrawing troops from Syria.
As the gap between rich and poor has been rapidly growing, these secret and vast riches stored in offshore havens are the equivalent of 8% of global financial wealth and has a malignant effect on the global economy. The Panama Papers shed light on the banking and financial system itself. Never before have we had access to so much detail.
“Offshore funds,” said Stratfor, “are a problem for governments. Economies around the world have been flagging, saddled with high debt and lacking obvious ways to overcome their stagnation. While the debt limits spending, raising taxes would surely further stifle economic growth. Meanwhile, central banks, which have been carrying the burden for the past eight years, now appear to be reaching the ends of their effectiveness. To these governments,” wrote Stratfor, “the 8 percent of global wealth that may currently reside in untaxable offshore havens presents an opportunity. Wealth that should be taxed… that might stimulate the next round of sustainable growth, is instead sitting idle in the Cayman Islands.”
The darkest corners of the financial system are now coming to light. And the resulting public outrage will empower governments to shut down those havens that have sheltered the rich from taxation. But wait, many of the very ones in leadership, are involved in the money hiding and even money laundering. What is going to motivate them to change their game? Though world leaders have been discussing ways to defeat tax evasion, they aren’t talking about themselves, mostly, since many of them participate in the corrupt system.
What is Mossack Fonseca, and how do they operate? This is important to understand so that you can clearly see how these merchants and kings of the earth do their private business. Mossack Fonseca is the fourth largest global provider of offshore legal services. It has offices in 42 countries, such as Jersey, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Swiss canton of Zug, etc., all of them nodes on the superhighway of global capital.
It is one of many legal firms that establish a series of interlocking shell companies for clients around the world who have to have a place to keep their money secret. These legal firms hide the real owners by putting their own names as directors and managers, or they establish ownership of the shell company in another shell company. And there can be several layers of shells, like so many Russian dolls. The legal firms then make sure that the shell company does what its real owners what it to do. So, it creates layers of privacy for those who own these shell companies so that they can hide their wealth. Those layers of privacy constructed by Mossack Fonseca and other similar companies are designed to purposefully circumvent anti-money laundering and tax laws.
The largest jurisdiction is the UK administered British Virgin Islands followed by Panama, the Bahamas, and the Seychelles, and the islands of Samoa and Niue near New Zealand.
There is a parallel world out there that the superrich use that has only a few touch points with the rest of us. These are the people that often attend the economic forum at Davos Switzerland each year. There they debate certain issues of importance to them and plan how to conduct their business affairs in light of what they expect to happen. Some of them, no doubt, are involved in manipulating economic matters to their own benefit.
But perhaps the simplest thing to say about the superrich is that they are not like you and me. They go to extraordinary lengths to shield their wealth from taxation. They live in a completely different world, “35,000 feet” above the rest of us, where the air is a lot thinner, and flying is a lot easier. And it is a world where most of us can never go. The Panama Papers have revealed the nasty details of the kind of business that most savvy people assume goes on all the time, but can’t put their finger on.
You and I pay our taxes; the wealthy find ways to avoid them. The system is rigged, and unless you are part of the global one percent, it isn’t rigged to help you. And this is the point where the oppression of the poor sets in.
Listen to Holy Scripture. These verses written by the apostle James are very much a prophecy of what is coming upon the superrich. This is from James 5:1-6 “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.”
Friends, if you think that these superrich are trembling now over the revelations of the Panama Papers, think what it will be like when they come to realize that their horded wealth is worthless and will destroy them. Think about their guilt when they have to stand before the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for their wanton lifestyles, their oppression of their employees as they have dealt with them like they were so much chattel. And think of the theft of the poor through the rigged system which some of them have helped to create or maintain. Think of the wealth they have made over trading in slaves and the souls of men, as described in Revelation 18:13 and which they have exploited for their own benefit. The Lord of Sabaoth hears the cries of the oppressed, and will eventually bring justice.
Oh friends, we need to pray for these superrich that have isolated themselves in a parallel world from the common people of society. They are difficult to reach and they don’t interact very much with regular people at all. Pray that somehow they will be converted, and dedicate themselves to God so that they can be saved in the end. There may well be a Nicodemus or two among them that will surrender to the Lord and support His final work on earth. Think what a few billion could do under the power of the latter rain.
Maybe the Panama Papers were merely confirmation of a suspicion that you have harbored for a long time. Our governments and institutions have been organized to help this 1% to get richer. They collaborate with the Vatican, according to scripture, to get rich, and the wealth gap gets wider and wider, even as the pope talks about wealth redistribution and helping the poor. Could it be that when Pope Francis talks piously about certain things like wealth redistribution, that the Papacy is actually creating or encouraging the widening wealth inequality?
Listen to it from Revelation 18:15-19. Speaking of the punishment of the Papacy, the Bible describes how the superrich will react. Here it is. “The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.”
These verses make it clear that the über-rich merchants of the earth are connected to the Papacy’s financial system and that when Rome is punished they will “stand afar off.” Rome is the other truly globally city. London and Rome are companion cities. Rome is the spiritual city and London is the financial city. Don’t think that because Rome doesn’t appear on the Mossack Fonseca Panama Papers that she isn’t involved. Remember, all these shell companies are designed to hide these connections.
If our governments worked the way they should or were originally intended, and were more responsive to public demand; and if our courts and legislative bodies more conducive to securing justice at the expense of the moneyed and the connected, we could expect mass indictments. But the system is rigged by some of these very ones who prey on the wealth of nations for their own benefit.
What is it that is being globalized these days? Yes, the world’s elites are gradually but rapidly globalizing the political and economic forces, among other things, and doing it so that their own wealth will increase exponentially. Globalization centralized power into the hands of fewer and fewer people. And since money and power go together, that means that instead of spreading wealth around more evenly it concentrates wealth into the hands of fewer people as well. At the same time, globalization has also helped the global financial system to play a leading role in offshore money laundering.
Keep in mind that the Vatican or the Holy See, is a global organization that encourages globalization, which essentially concentrates wealth, including into her own coffers. So, when the pope talks about helping the poor, he’s not talking about Vatican wealth. He’s talking about the wealth of nations under the control of these men.
The super-rich have become an oligarchy. In fact many of these superrich are also the world’s rulers, or the kings of the earth. In reality many of them are both kings and merchants of the earth. And they control massive resources and can manipulate the system so that there is no chance that the common people can rise up on their own and overthrow them.
Keep in mind that in recent history there is a very interesting point to be made. There were virtually no criminal charges following the 2008 financial crisis. This suggests that the system was set up with laws, or rather a lack of laws that would criminalize the behavior of the big banks and bankers in sapping the world of its economic strength. Even the banks, especially the central banks, are in the middle of the conspiracy up to their eyeballs.
Yes, the protesting populace may topple an odd leader here and there, which will not change their economic worth. But real change is not very likely aside from the intervention of God. Only the punishment of heaven on Rome will expose it all. What we see in the Panama Papers is a tiny little window, just a glimpse of what is really going on behind the scenes in this world.
Not all that long ago, the angels of heaven, no doubt, pulled back the curtain on the corruption of the Vatican Bank and revealed a filthy scandal that greatly downgraded the Vatican in world opinion. Then after Benedict XVI resigned and Francis was elected, his popularity covered it all up, and now you hardly hear a thing about it. Now, we have the Panama Papers that reveal that the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth are playing dirty little games too. According to scripture, they work together.
Why do you think God has given us a glimpse of the corruption among the world’s elite? Friends, it is because God wants us to understand that we are living in a time similar to what it was like in the days of Noah, when the whole earth had been corrupted by the prevailing wickedness and corruption.
Friends, the fact is that unless God intervenes in these affairs, and destroys the value of all this hoarded wealth it will never stop. That’s why the Bible says in James 5:7, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” Friends, it is only the coming of the Lord and the events leading up to it that will put this huge scam to rest.
We see it now, so that we may understand that the Bible is true… and that there is coming a time when all this will be over and the poor in spirit will be rich in faith and have eternal life, and the rich of this world will be devastated and will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them.
God puts value in places where man does not. Man places his value in material wealth. God places value in character and spiritual maturity.
Now look at verses 8 and 9. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.”
The scale of the document dump from Mossack Fonseca should cause any of those involved to take pause and think about what they have done. Here is their opportunity to make restitution and do what they can to undo the wicked influence of all this financial hording. Or the judge of all the earth will stand before their door and condemn them and punish them.
The Panama Papers reveal that the super-rich use shell companies and tax havens, that they employ shadowy legal entities to help them hide their finances from government scrutiny. And it involves a remarkably wide diversity of nefarious players, both past and present, such as Vladimir Putin, Muammar Al-Qaddafi, Hosni Mubarak, as well as prominent figures of international politics, sports and entertainment. For instance, Jackie Chan, the famous martial arts star shows up in the documents. Lionel Messi, the world-renown Argentinean soccer player is also there. Their motive in using Mossack Fonseca to hide their enormous wealth is their desire to hoard it for their personal use rather than use it to help and bless others as God intended.
These are men and women who have no loyalty to their own countries, only to themselves. And if traditional globalization has been marked by the closure of a factory in the United States and the opening of one in Bangladesh, the new globalization might be entirely digital, a computer in Panama wires funds between London and the Bahamas, on behalf of a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in Saudi Arabia. The very idea of nation states dissolves into an impossibly complex digital network of international financial dealings. Even referring to a country of origin attached to the superrich is irrelevant. The fabulously wealthy are their own country now, and they have their own rules and laws, their own legalities, their own realities in fact.
And the politicians shield these superrich elites. While political anger at politicians who lie, cheat and steal erupts and destabilizes nations, these elites ride above it all, protected behind their gates and electric fences, their remote airstrips and mansions, their army of security and body guards, and, of course their hidden digital complexity. The Panama Papers simply confirm that the 99 per cent of the world’s population has been cheated, and now their anger is justified.
No wonder there is so much distrust and anger at politicians and public institutions during the current American election cycle in both parties.
The Panama Papers suggest a tight connection between the superrich and their behavior as politicians, merchants and kings, and the political discontent that is building, especially in countries that are supposed to be democratic. The political process is stacked in favor of the establishment elites.
One classic example can be seen in the current election cycle in the United States. The patently undemocratic system of caucus and “superdelegates,” which has had more airtime and explanation in the press than in previous election cycles, is nearly guaranteed to secure the desired result of the elites. Party leadership in both parties is openly working to deny these insurgent candidates the nomination. Now we can see clearly that the election system is rigged, and no matter how many American voters want big changes, it appears that the elites who run the country will maintain their permanent control of the system. And the superrich, some of whom are named in the Panama Papers will continue to hold their old privileges and wealth, at least until God intervenes. And, according to Bible prophecy, He won’t completely destroy that system until the time of trouble just before the second coming of Christ. After all, the elites are skilled at arranging matters so that they don’t have to face the earthly consequences of their behavior.
This political corruption of the superrich and the global elites will inevitably add to the crime and corruption of other levels of society, who will think, “Well, if they can get away with it, so can it. I deserve it, and I will take it by force.” Already, hardly anything, anyone, or anyplace is safe any more. But it will get worse, according to the prophecies of the word of God. It is all tending to anarchy, violence and lawlessness as predicted in scripture.
But God has given us a glimpse to show us how close we are to the close of probation and the end of it all by showing us how bad it is. Fredrik DeBoar of Foreign Policy wrote, “I can’t help but feel that the truth is darker: Knowledge of how deeply corrupt the rich are, and how inoculated they are from the consequences of that corruption, makes meaningful action seem like an impossibly difficult task. Solutions to the vast inequalities in wealth and power that grip the world,” he continued,” seem either insufficient to create change, too sweeping to become reality, or both at the same time.”
“The question is,” DeBoar asked, “will anger at the corruption and failure of our elites dissolve into apathy and exhaustion, as people come to believe there truly is no alternative? Or will it explode?”
“Following the Great Recession [of 2008-2010] and world financial meltdown,” DeBoar continued, “policymakers have fallen broadly into two camps: those who see a significant role for official intervention through fiscal and monetary stimulus policies, and those who see government as the problem and push for structural changes to push it out of the way.”
Push government out of the way? Friends, that’s a call for anarchy.
Students of prophecy know which way this will go. Listen to this statement from Education, page 228. “At the same time anarchy is seeking to sweep away all law, not only divine, but human. The centralizing of wealth and power; the vast combinations for the enriching of the few at the expense of the many; the combinations of the poorer classes for the defense of their interests and claims; the spirit of unrest, of riot and bloodshed; the world-wide dissemination of the same teachings that led to the French Revolution–all are tending to involve the whole world in a struggle similar to that which convulsed France.”
And the superrich are nervous about it too. At the Davos meeting in 2015, discussion arose concerning the implications of public discontent over the vast inequality of money and power. And the superrich are nervous about what might happen. They are already planning their escape. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” said Robert Johnson, a former hedge fund manager for George Soros while at Davos. “There is a wicked feedback loop,” Johnson continued, “Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get even more money.”
And, according to Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, “Seventy five percent of people in developing countries live in places that are less equal than they were in 1990.” In other words, the inequality has grown. And I might add, it has grown substantially as the world’s superrich worship profit.
During the economic crisis back in 2008-2009, many governments imposed austerity measures on their peoples. They sold it to them as a shared sacrifice. But as the Panama Papers appear to show, the crisis was an opportunity for the superrich to become richer, and on top of that, they avoided taxation that would have helped their nations deal with the fiscal crisis that many of them had helped create. Tax avoidance and evasion by Greece’s elites played a significant role in making the country the indebted basket case it has become.”
The Panama Papers were released amid parallel corruption investigations by the U.S. Justice Department, Chinese and Brazilian authorities. And the Australian Taxation Office said it was investigating more than 800 wealthy Australians for possible tax evasion because of their dealings with Mossack Fonseca.
And the corruption goes back a ways. “Many of the key players in the 2008 economic crisis, including the CEOs of the major Wall Street firms that pushed the financial system to the brink, were bailed out. Several remain in their jobs today, making millions of dollars a year — as if nothing had happened.”
This reinforces the perception that a “revolving door between government and the private sector, particularly in banking, ensures the rules are rigged in favor of corporations to the detriment of individuals and taxpayers. The role of global banks, like HSBC, Coutts and Barclays has been a prominent feature of the Panama files that have created offshore companies on an industrial scale, reinforcing the impression of the entire sector as one big risky rip-off machine, preying on consumers and governments to maximize profit. The scandal is only the latest in a series of almost countless ones, most of which were settled with fines and no admission of guilt. There is hardly a global financial market that has not been systematically manipulated by major Wall Street firms: interest rates, foreign exchange, metals, electricity — the list goes on.”
Global tax havens hold funds for the superrich to the tune of more than USD $20 trillion by some estimates, which is larger than the entire annual output of the U.S. economy.
Among the many thousands of names listed in the leak as possibly implicated in dodgy tax deals, there can’t be any appearance less surprising than that of Baroness Pamela Sharples, the widow of the former governor of Bermuda. That is, until you get to Lord Michael Ashcroft — billionaire, Belizean national, and former deputy chair of the Conservative Party… Then there’s Michael Mates, a former Tory MP, who stood down in 2010 amid another business scandal. And David Cameron’s late father Ian Cameron who profited from offshore companies and business for three decades without paying a penny of British tax.
How does Mossack Fonseca and its network of shell companies’ work in practical terms? Say, for example, you’re a dictator who wants to finance terrorism, take a bribe, or pilfer your nation’s treasury. A shell company is a bogus entity that allows you to hold and move cash under a corporate name without international law enforcement or tax authorities knowing it’s yours. Once the money is disguised as the assets of this enterprise—which would typically be set up by a trusted lawyer or crony in an offshore secrecy haven to further obscure ownership—you can spend it or use it for new nefarious purposes. This is the very definition of money laundering—taking dirty money and making it clean—and shell companies make it possible. They’re “getaway vehicles,” says former US Customs investigator Keith Prager.
For example, the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, the man who has apparently helped cause the deaths of over 200,000 of his citizens, has shell companies in offshore havens. Rami Makhlouf, the richest and most powerful businessman in Syria, is widely believed to be the “bagman” -a person who collects and manages ill-gotten loot—for Assad. “Bagman” is perhaps a reference to Judas who held the bag for Jesus and his disciples.
Makhlouf used his connections to build a huge business network that spanned from telecommunications to energy to banking, and by the time he reached 40 he had accumulated a fortune estimated to be in the billions.
No foreign company can do business in Syria without Makhlouf’s approval and involvement. The American embassy in Damascus described him as the “poster boy of corruption in Syria.” He exploited his relationships with the ruling party, and intimidated competitors through the Syrian intelligence officials. The U.S. Treasury Department banned businesses from doing business with Makhlouf. The U.S. Treasury Department said he had grown rich by bribing and “aiding the public corruption of Syrian regime officials.”
Makhlouf hid his corrupt money in a shell company established by Mossack Fonseca called Drex Technologies SA, registered in the British Virgin Islands. Instead of putting money he skimmed from a shady business deal into a bank account linked to his name, he put it in Drex so it couldn’t be connected to him.
When Syria’s civil war started, Makhlouf came under the radar of international investigators. By the time they found Drex, it had disappeared. In other words, Drex Technologies SA was a vehicle that hid Makhlouf’s shadowy financial activities, and before that was discovered Makhlouf had had plenty of time to move its operations and assets to another offshore jurisdiction.
Mossack Fonseca is the legal firm that establishes and registers shell companies for various crooked businessmen like Makhlouf. They act as the dummy company’s registered agent and file the required incorporation papers, and their office serves as the shell address. “This process creates a layer between the shell and its owner, especially if the dummy company is filed in a secrecy haven where ownership information is guarded behind an impenetrable wall of laws and regulations.”
Since the 70s Mossack Fonseca has expanded operations and now works with affiliated offices in 44 countries, including the Bahamas, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Brazil, Jersey, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States, specifically the states of Wyoming, Florida, and Nevada.
But Mossack Fonseca is not the only shady law firm tied to corruption and “black money.” A U.S. Delaware-registered shell in the 1990s peddled arms to the Taliban. In 2010 a man named Khalid Ouazzani pleaded guilty to using a Kansas City, Missouri firm called Truman Used Auto Parts to move money for Al Qaeda.
“Scattered news accounts and international investigations have pointed to Mossack Fonseca as one of the widest-reaching creators of shell companies in the world, but it has, until now, used an array of legal and accounting tricks that have allowed it and its clients to mostly fly under the radar.”
The Panama Papers exposed Mossack Fonseca as serving as the registered agent for front companies tied to an array of notorious gangsters and thieves that, in addition to Makhlouf, includes associates of Muammar Gaddafi and Robert Mugabe, as well as an Israeli billionaire who has plundered one of Africa’s poorest countries, and a business oligarch named Lázaro Báez, from Argentina, who allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through a network of shell firms, some which Mossack Fonseca had helped register in Las Vegas.
If shell companies are getaway cars for bank robbers, then Mossack Fonseca may be the world’s shadiest car dealership. Mossack Fonseca was established in 1977, a few years after Panama passed some of the strictest financial secrecy laws on the planet. “These laws attracted a long line of dirtbags and dictators who used Panama to hide their stolen loot, including Ferdinand Marcos, “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and Augusto Pinochet.”
When Manuel Noriega, Panama’s military dictator, opposed American CIA efforts to topple the leftist Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua, Panama was invaded in 1989, Noriega ousted and power was returned to the old banking elites who helped establish Panama in the first place – J.P. Morgan and friends. And the fraud and corruption still exists today.
“You can go to any law firm in the city, from the smallest to the biggest, and open up a shell company with no questions asked,” said Miguel Antonia Bernal, a prominent local lawyer and political analyst in Panama City. “When it comes to money laundering, we offer full service: rinse, wash, and dry.”
These law firms have sorted out ways to even get around FATCA, the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires foreign banks to notify IRS about accounts held by U.S. taxpayers in foreign countries. If there is no one with a U.S. passport attached to a company on public record, then the secret stash of money can be hidden there forever.
The Panama Papers list at least 200 American passports and nearly 3,100 off shore shell companies belonging to them. Some of these Americans have been convicted of financial crimes.
What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy. Thirty years of runaway incomes for the 1% had given them a voice that sets the rules by which the rest of us live. They are buying political influence as never before. The Conservative Party in England is in power because half of their election funds came from private equity barons.
Here is how this works. If you are fed up with your local public school, you have the right to voice your frustrations to the principle of the school, or the school board. Or, you can exit and take your child to a private school.
“In Britain and in America, the superrich… are at one and the same time exercising economic exit and political voice. They can have their tax-free cake and eat it.”
David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister is part of the 1%. He has also cut taxes for the rich, and increased VAT taxes on the rest of society. Some superrich have been invited to advise the government on overhauling corporation taxes. Meanwhile, government social programs on which the poor depend to a disproportionate extent, were squeezed like never before. While in 2008 the government bailed out some of Britain’s largest banks, in 2016, the government is reluctant to bail out a stricken steel industry upon which as many as 40,000 jobs depend. The list of ways the superrich politicians have helped the 1% and hurt the common people goes on and on. Today, Britain is an unrepresentative democracy, a plutarchy (or the rule of the wealthy). London is the playground of the one percent. The divide between the have-lots and the have-less has rarely been so obvious and so dramatic.
Politicians no longer work for the people. They work for themselves and higher powers. For instance, in Britain, during the crisis in the rental market, the housing minister runs a private rental portfolio, and a superrich prime minister who vows he’ll take on the tax havens, all the while blocking any serious attempt to do so.
“Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey,” Isaiah 59:14, 15.
My friends, here are a few lessons for us.
“Hoarded wealth is not merely useless, it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God its witness to unused talents and neglected opportunities will condemn its possessor…
“But Christ sanctions no lavish or careless use of means. His lesson in economy, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost,” is for all His followers. (John 6:12.) He who realizes that his money is a talent from God will use it economically, and will feel it a duty to save that he may give.”
“The more means we expend in display and self-indulgence, the less we can have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Every penny used unnecessarily deprives the spender of a precious opportunity of doing good. It is robbing God of the honor and glory which should flow back to Him through the improvement of His entrusted talents. Christ’s Object Lessons, page 352
“Men are guilty of robbery toward God. Their selfish use of means robs the Lord of the glory that should be reflected back to Him in the relief of suffering humanity and the salvation of souls. They are embezzling His entrusted goods. The Lord declares, “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against… those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right.” Christ’s Object Lessons, pages 370 and 371
“Now is the time to use means for God. Now is the time to be rich in good works, laying up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life. One soul saved in the kingdom of God is of more value than all earthly riches. We are answerable to God for the souls of those with whom we are brought in contact, and the closer our connections with our fellow men the greater our responsibility. We are one great brotherhood, and the welfare of our fellow men should be our great interest. We have not one moment to lose. If we have been careless in this matter, it is high time we were now in earnest to redeem the time, lest the blood of souls be found on our garments. As children of God, none of us are excused from taking a part in the great work of Christ in the salvation of our fellow men.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, page 209
Friends, Christ gave up all his riches and honor, His command and His life to save you and me from ruin. Those who do less than what they can for the cause of God will be speechless in the day when Christ comes to judge. They will see the sin of neglect. Friends, I cannot do that. I have to warn people and help them find their way to the cross and to eternal salvation. What about you? Let us each commit our resources to Christ and give Him the service He deserves.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we see a little of the corruption of this world and how it is rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many. Please give us a heart of love for the rich and the poor that we may help at least some find their way to the kingdom of heaven. Open our hearts to those less fortunate than us, and help us minister to their needs in unselfish love. And please, give us a home in the new earth with Jesus forever, we pray, in His precious name, amen.