The Panama Papers show how the elite hide their money

Everyone knows that the global financial elite have elaborate ways to avoid paying tax and hide the sources of their money but not many of us understand just how convoluted the tax dodging schemes can be. That’s about to change with the huge leak of papers relating to the everyday business activities of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. As the BBC reports the so-called Panama Papers “show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data, including the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugson, who had an undeclared interest linked to his wife's wealth and is now facing calls for his resignation.” The BCC interviews Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who comments, ”I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents.”

How Putin's friends (but not him of course) got rich 

This may not be the biggest surprise but it appears that one Vladimir Putin might have done pretty well off his decades of being Russia’s top dog. The Russian president's presence features heavily in the Panama Papers - or rather close associates of his do - with what the Guardian describes as “a network of secret offshore deals and vast loans worth $2bn” being linked to “members of Putin’s close circle”. However Putin’s name does not appear in any of the records - again not a great surprise.

California’s invisible methane menace

From finance to energy now and another blight on society in the form of the massive California methane leak that The New York Times calls an “invisible catastrophe”. The full implications of the leak are still not fully known but we’re just beginning to get a sense of its scale. As the NYT writes, “During the four months the leak lasted — 25 days longer than the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — the leak contributed roughly the same amount of warming as the greenhouse-­gas emissions produced by the entire country of Lebanon.”

Hain Celestial’s not so natural ingredients?

Hain Celestial, one of the US's largest makers of natural shampoos and skin cleansers, says it is “reformulating dozens of products and dropping claims that they don’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate [SLS], a cleaning agent commonly used in mainstream brands,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Indeed it was a WSJ investigation into the ingredients found in so-called natural cleaning products that prompted Hain Celestial’s action. Hain had long maintained its products have no “harsh chemicals” such as SLS, that could irritate some people’s skin.

Rhode Island state of mind

Finally today, news of a botched tourism rebranding campaign for the state of Rhode Island. The $5 million campaign was already getting flack from Rhode Islanders for its new slogan “Cooler and Warmer” even though the new marketing logo had been designed by Milton Glaser, who created the iconic I Love New York logo. What really sunk the campaign though was the video featuring shots of…Iceland. 

Take 5 will be taking the rest of the week off. Back next Monday.

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