Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Offshore bashing - a warning for the Russian elite?

Offshore bashing - a warning for the Russian elite?

The memory of Cyprus and its offshore banks scandal is still fresh, and new information about thousands of suspicious accounts in financial institutions in the British Virgin Islands has emerged. The source of this information is the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) from Washington. The investigation involved 88 journalists from 46 countries.

We will discuss the peculiarities of the said journalistic consortium later, but for now let us turn to the information that for several days have been discussed by leading newspapers in Britain and the U.S., as well as the Russian liberal print trio - Vedomosti, Novaya Gazeta, and New Times. Among hundreds of names and accounts of western schemers of average scale and high-ranking officials from the countries of the Third World (including a dollar millionaire from Mongolia), only three Russian holders of offshore accounts were mentioned.

The total volume of information on the British Virgin Islands is about 260 gigabytes, which is ten times the size of the largest leak of WikiLeaks in 2010. This collection contains data from 2.5 million documents and names of 130,000 people from 170 countries, including Russia. The list includes all sorts of people, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of Philippine dictator Marcos and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from the former spouse. The President of Azerbaijan, the former Minister of Finance of Mongolia, the treasurer of Hollande's presidential election, a Spanish baroness, friend and partner of the late Berezovsky and a couple dozen of characters, holders of secret accounts who are not inferior to the Russian entrepreneurial and shameless privatizers and reformers of the 1990s .

And here is why it all started - the names of Russian offshore account holders are Olga Shuvalova, the wife of the first Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Gazprom officials Golubev and Paikin, and a former senior civil servant of Reus Vladimir Margelov, the brother of Senator Margelov. "And this is just the beginning," promised David Lee, a British journalist.

This implicit threat of further publication of the names of the holders of accounts with illegal money is obviously the entire point of this informational operation. Without doubt, the information about money laundering and its origin among high-ranking officials and their relatives is very interesting and useful for the restoration of social justice. And, while nothing new was published on the accounts of Shuvalova, as the information has been available for a couple of years along with the charges against Igor Shuvalov for using insider information for personal gain, it does not hurt to remind the law enforcement authorities about the incident once again. However, there are many international acts, including the famous American FATC, designed to legally fight money laundering, including offshore. Why not take advantage of these opportunities, especially as the U.S. has done it, for example, with regard to Swiss accounts without much fuss?

The answer is simple - not the financial and legal result is needed, but rather, ideological information against the Russian government. This conclusion is evidenced by the analysis of the founders of the ICIJ consortium that, until recently, was not known to the journalistic community. Its website states that the organization is a project of another, larger American NGO - CPI, Center for Public Integrity. The list of financiers and sponsors includes well-known organizations such as the Ford Foundation, the Soros Foundation, the Goldman Fund, the Fund for Support of Jewish Communities, the foundation of the Rockefeller family, and the foundation of Google. A great deal of interesting material can be written on each of these organizations, and in Russia they are not known as good, unbiased Samaritans. The main thing is all these funds, especially Google Fund and the Fund for Support of the Jewish Community have long worked closely with the CIA, actively developing budgets, implementing U.S. policy that in recent years has been using private and public structures to achieve its reprehensible goals. In the event of publicity the American government will not be to blame, and there is no reason for diplomatic complications.

Now it becomes clear why the three Russian newspapers were selected for the distribution of information in Russia. Vedomosti is published and controlled by the U.S. publishing house. The New Times is headed by Yevgenia Albats, member of the Russian Jewish Congress, who had long lived in the United States. The relations of Mikhail Gorbachev, a co-owner of Novaya Gazeta, with the West do not require mentioning. The ICIJ consortium does not make a secret of its journalists, virtually foreign agents, through which it operates in Russia. Its website displays the names under the heading "Our journalists." Albats is heading the list, followed by Roman Anin and Roman Shleinov, both of Novaya Gazeta.

But all these are technical details that reveal the methods of the new grand psychological operations conducted by the CIA and the U.S. State Department through a network of NGOs with the support of Russian home-grown collaborationists. In fact, all previous attacks were poorly calculated and have failed. "Bolotnaya" protests have died down, the Russian opposition is stuck in scandals and criminal cases, the Magnitsky list did not yield results. Now it is time to excite the public mind with billions taken out of the country, and send a warning to the dishonest officials that their names may be made public if they do not take the correct political position, whether covertly or overtly.

Undoubtedly, the best way to prevent this kind of situation is for the Russian law enforcement agencies to start working on high-ranking corrupt officials.  

It would make sense to consider the peculiarities of the U.S. unfriendly policies. A law on the foreign agents in the media, similar to the approved law on foreign agents in NGOs, would also be timely.  

Yuri Skidanov