In the grand scheme of things, the Panama Papers didn’t look great for Russia.
The reporters who investigated this huge leak of financial data predicted that up to $2 billion in offshore bank accounts could be linked to a circle of friends who are associated with President Vladimir Putin.
For many, this eye-opening info did seem to suggest that Putin is corrupt, on a massive scale.
In defence, Putin – after a few days of silence – took aim at the West, suggesting it was part of a U.S. plot to destabilise Russia.
But now another theory is doing the rounds, suggesting that Moscow isn’t a victim of the plot, but in fact is the force behind it.
Okay, on paper it does sound a bit bizarre, but it’s definitely worth exploring because of who brought this theory to light – Clifford Gaddy, an expert on Russia’s economy and a former adviser to the Russian Finance Ministry in the 1990’s.
An economist for Brookings, Gaddy outlined his thoughts in a blog on their site. Here are four of his points:
1. A hacker backed by the Russian government emailed German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, offering the leak in early 2015. This contact eventually led to the release of the Panama Papers.
2. There is barely any information that directly harms Putin, as his link to the $2 billion figure is pretty obscure.
3. While on the other hand, there’s been a fair bit of info which has proven embarassing for other world leaders.
4. And finally, the fact that so few Americans were linked might suggest that these details were deleted from documents given to Süddeutsche Zeitung and on to other media outlets. This could imply it’s being held back for blackmail purposes.
It’s a very bold claim, with Gaddy even admitting that in an email on Friday, but even so, it has caused a bit of a stir.
When you take a clear look of it, a lot of it does actually make sense. While Putin seems relatively unscathed by the revelations, other world leaders, such as the UK’s PM David Cameron and the Icelandic PM, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson felt a massive backlash, which led the latter to resign.
So why isn’t Putin getting anywhere near the same amount of flack? Well, partly because he’s a very popular guy in Russia and it would take staggering financial scandal to really knock him in any way.
Also, many of his critics already think he’s corrupt, with some predicting his wealth to be as much as $200 billion- making him easily the richest guy on earth. So it’d be difficult to shift anyone’s thinking of him on this matter.
But like any conspiracy theory, there are a lot of things that don’t quite add up.
First, the lack of U.S. citizens which have been widely reported could be down to the fact that because of the sheer amount of data which has been leaked, simply some of it has failed to come to light as of yet.
Also, it has been suggested that many Americans prefer other tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands or Switzerland.
Gaddy himself recognises all of this, but he wonders what might have been left out.
How can we ever know if they are complete? So far everyone seems only to be asking, what secrets are in the Panama Papers? We should also ask, are there secrets [in Mossack Fonseca’s original files] that are NOT in the Panama Papers?
We’re sure that over the coming weeks and months, a load more will come to light on the now infamous Panama Papers.
The Washington Post