Blairmore and the Panamanian ‘heat’
Why are the real questions not being asked over Cameron and Blairmore? The puny £30,000 off-shore fund is mere smoke and mirrors to mask the much more serious issues surrounding Blairmore Holdings-the business that paid for Cameron’s privileged life-style including Eton, Oxford and Bullingdon.
The fundamental issue being ignored over the Panama Papers is on the can –“Panama”- its political geography and its role as the capital of global shady capitalism.
Recognised by Scots of the 17th century Darien Scheme as having enormous potential the Panama isthmus sits strategically between global powerhouse North America & resource rich South America as well as being well positioned to link Asia with Europe viz the canal, with the Caribbean archipelago on its doorstep.
As a centre for cross-border capital trading and dealing it is ideally positioned. A cursory visit to Panama will reveal the incredible globalization of its financial services sector with a multi-national professional population reflecting its global reach. Evidence of the international character of this dodgy centre for money management is to be found in the leaked papers. Chinese, Russian , British, African Canadian even Iceland: players from all continents are linked to the Panama Papers.
However Panama also shares a border with Colombia. (Panama was at one time part of a greater Colombia under Bolivar.) The financial industry in Panama was instigated and developed substantially by Colombian drug money: money from producers as well as shippers, distributors and their political agents all used Panama (see Escobar).
Indeed former President (dictator) of Panama General Manuel Noriega was convicted (by his erstwhile friends) the US Government for accommodating money laundering and Colombian drug dealing under his notorious regime.
Panama under Noriega (as reported by the CIA) was a major centre of illicit financial roguery fuelled by massive drug dealing and wider commercial irregularities. (US goods and technical equipment shipped to Panama for example could be re-routed via Grenada or Jamaica to a final destination in Cuba). Panama was well known as the most corrupt jurisdiction for international financial services.
So now against that sleazy backdrop, what makes the Blairmore Holdings story so much more intriguing is the question-why did Blairmore select Panama for its off-shore headquarters? Other London based British banks and money managers used the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the BVI for off-shore tax free activity. But Ian Cameron (after Thatcher had opened the door to the export of capital) selected Panama. (Please note it was the Panama lawyers who added another layer of obfuscation by shifting David Cameron’s share-holding to the Bahamas.) We know Panama is out-with British jurisdiction unlike the British over-seas territories mentioned above. We also know Panama had acquired quite a reputation as one of the biggest laundries in the off-shore financial business. So much so that Uncle Sam was forced to arrest and lock-up one of the CIA’s trained clients, Noriega.
Another critical question has to be asked. Why was Blairmore Holding (1983) established in Panama under the regime of the corrupt Noreiga? The culture of corruption under Noriega was overwhelming-yet it was under his watch that Blairmore selected Panama. (I have met off-shore bankers (just socially) who fled Panama and set up operations in the West Indies in fear of the Noreiga regime.)
How did Blairmore manage in the Panamanian ‘heat’? Make no mistake Colombian drug industry culture in all its various guises dominated the financial services under Noreiga, turning hot money into clean funds.
How did Blairmore Holdings escape the ubiquitous influence of Colombian drug-money?
These are only some of the questions that require answers? But for certain, David Cameron and his ultra-clean political brand have been severely tarnished simply by the questions, never mind what the answers may reveal.