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The Panama Papers: All You Need To Know

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A major expose on Monday sent shockwaves through the top offices of the nations named in The Panama Papers, triggering a series of probes across the globe.  The leak was the result of an effort of over 100 media groups who published an extensive report of probe into dubious offshore financial deals of prominent people across the globe who used tax havens to hide their wealth.  The documents were leaked from Mossack Fonseca – a Panamanian law firm – by an anonymous source to German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, who then shared it with media worldwide by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The people it allegedly exposed ranged from political leaders like Russian President Vladmir Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President of Argentina, Iceland’s Prime Minister and the King of Saudi Arabia as well as 500 Indians including Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

So what does this all mean, how bad it is, how concerning it is, and moreover, is it some kind of illegal activities.  We tell you everything that you need to understand in simplest way.

What is Panama Papers?

The Panama Papers are a leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents created by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca.

What is there in that “confidential documents?”

The documents, from around 214,000 offshore entities covering almost 40 years show how the company helped its clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax. The confidential documents leaked from Mossack Fonesca show that in many cases some of the world’s most powerful people used offshore havens to conceal their fortunes and dodge taxes worth millions of dollars. It was done through shell companies, initially incorporated without significant assets or operations, to disguise ownership or other information about the funds involved.

In simple language, Mossack Fonseca is a law firm situated in Panama, which specializes in commercial law, trust services, investor advisory, and international structures.  That means they know how to play with tax loopholes of different countries, how to evade tax, how do transfer money evading laws, etc, etc.  That does not mean they are some underworld illegal organisation into criminal activities and all.  They are just like any law firm that helps you to fight for divorce, fight for property rights, settle your cases, and just like any lawyer who helps its client to win the case at most favourable way, Mossack Fonseca does help its clients that are looking for tax saving, evading taxes and fees, transferring money from one place to another in legal way.  Mossack Fonseca is just too good on how to use different loopholes and serve its clients.  Mossack Fonseca is also into wealth management service and manages wealth of many wealthiest people and organisation from the planet. All in all, companies such as Mossack specialise in helping foreigners hide wealth. Clients may want to keep money away from soon-to-be ex-wives, dodge sanctions, launder money or evade taxes. The main tools for doing so are anonymous shell companies (which exist only on paper) and offshore accounts in tax havens (which often come with perks such as banking secrecy and low to no taxes). These structures obscure the identity of the true owner of money parked in or routed through jurisdictions such as Panama.  That’s what the paper reveals.  It says who all has gone to this firm to hide wealth for whatsoever reasons.

Mossack Fonseca is the world’s fourth biggest provider of offshore services and its services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for a yearly fee. Other services include wealth management. It has acted for more than 300,000 companies. The firm is Panamanian but, according to its website, has a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. More than half of the companies are registered in British-administered tax havens, as well as in the UK itself.  Source


Who’s involved? 

Current leaders of Argentina, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Pakistan were among those implicated in the documents. So were friends and families of Syrian President Bashar Assad, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Russian President Vladimir Putin has come under major fire since the papers reveal his associates are suspected in a billion-dollar money-laundering scheme.  The documents also reportedly contain information about a former FIFA secretary general, FIFA presidential candidate, and a lawyer who advises FIFA on ethical issues. More recognized names are actor Jackie Chan, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, according to Variety.

Anyone from Nepal?

There must be some names from Nepal as well, you never know.  Panama Papers is just published and some Nepalese journalists and enthusiasts must be going through to see if any one from Nepal is there in the list or not.


Is it illegal to do so?

Not necessarily.   

If it’s not illegal, why this hue and cry?

Because it exposes another side of a person who was considered ethically high and virtuous.  Let’s talk about Ambitav Bacchan.  As his name is there, that means he contacted Mossac Fonseca to manage his wealth and help him evade tax and maybe help him with money laundering.  Though everything per his request is done by Mossac Fonseca in legal way (indeed using loophole), it hence questions virtuousness of Ambitabh Bachhan.  It’s like you hiring a best lawyer in town and get a property deal in your favour against a will of a farmer.  Though it’s legal to do so if smart enough to exploit loopholes, it’s morally wrong.

So, the hue and cry.  Russian president Putin to Bollywood celebrities are there in the list, who all this time were never thought to be engaged in such activities.

Also, the leak shows how offshore tax shelters can be exploited by the rich and the famous despite all the safeguards put in place by their respective countries. It also reveals how prominent people across the world connived with major banks to create hard-to-trace companies. Ironically, among the accused were many people who rose to prominence on the anti-corruption platform.

The major data leak has triggered a series of probes by various state authorities across the globe.  The people of Iceland protested to oust their Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, while China censored the access to sites and media coverage on the Panama Papers after President Xi Jinping was also implicated in the matter.  India too reacted sharply to the exposè and set up a multi-agency probe group comprising of the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bureau of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to probe the list of 500 Indians including celebrities and industrialists.




Who leaked the documents?

More than a year before the first publication of the Panama leaks in April 2016, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung was offered large caches of documents from an anonymous source. The paper accepted and began to receive more and more material; in the space of a year they acquired a total of 2.6 terabytes of data consisting of documents related to Mossack Fonseca, providing information on 214,488 offshore entities related to public officials.  The leak consists of 11.5 million documents created between the 1970s and late 2015 by Mossack Fonseca.
The source decided to do it because they thought Mossack Fonseca was behaving unethically.

 “The source thinks that this law firm in Panama is doing real harm to the world, and the source wants to end that. That’s one of the motivations.”

The data was distributed to and analyzed by about 400 journalists at 107 media organizations in more than 80 countries. After more than a year, the first news reports based on the set, along with 149 of the documents themselves, were published on April 3, 2016.  Among other planned disclosures, the full list of companies is to be released in early May 2016.

In short

Not everyone that has taken help of such services in order to manage their wealth are bad or a bad move.  Some are good and some are bad.  Only time will say,  who were good and who were bad, how and why.  One thing for sure, those names mentioned in the documents will have to answer lots of questions again and again in coming days.  Road ahead is definitely not a smooth ride for tax evaders and money launders. 

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Knowledge & Infos

What’s Special Today: November 10

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Chhath:

Historically native to the Indian states of Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and the southern part of Nepal, Chhath is one of those festivals that transcends the caste system that exists in the society. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartik. The Chhath Puja is a 4-day long ritual specially offered to the solar deity, Surya, to show thankfulness for good health, good life and to request the granting of some certain wishes.

Day 1: On the first day, the devotees after bathing clean their house and eat the food that is offered to the god to protect the mind from the vengeful tendency.

Day 2: On the second day, the devotees are not allowed to drink even a single drop of water but, in the evening, they eat kheer made up of jaggery, fruits.

Day 3: The evening of the third day which is also known as sandhya ‘arghya’ day where a bamboo basket is decorated with various puja materials, fruits, thekuwa, and laddus which are offered as an ‘argya’ to the Sun. Also, the Chhathi Maiya is worshipped.

Day 4: On the last day of Chhath puja again an arghya is offered to the Sun God but this time in the morning. The devotees go to the riverbank to offer arghya to the rising sun and break their fast and conclude their four-day long worship.

Happy Chhath to everyone! Don’t forget to enjoy some thekuwas!!

World Keratoconus Day:

Every year on November 10, World Keratoconus Day is celebrated to focus global attention on keratoconus and ectatic corneal disorders. The day was first celebrated by National Keratoconus Foundation.

Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to become weak, leading to the thinning and stretching of the cornea, which may result in the loss of vision. Keratoconus is degeneration of the structure of the cornea. The shape of the cornea slowly changes from the normal round shape to a cone shape which affects the vision. The keratoconus mainly develops in teenagers and young adults and the disease keeps on growing, if not diagnosed in time.  

The disease has no prevention and no treatment. With early diagnosis, the disease can be managed and further damage can be protected. In Nepal, the prevalence of Keratoconus is 1 in 2000 according to the recent journal. So, this world keratoconus day, make a commitment to visit an eye doctor once a year for the early diagnosis of keratoconus as well as other eye diseases.

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KMAG Online Writing Workshop reading materials

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Day 1

Covers communication and types of writing. Please check the following articles.

  1. What is communication and how to communicate effectively?
  2. Types of Writing

Also, check out: How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it)

Day 2

Covers content management system/WordPress, and how to introduce yourself. Please check the following articles.

  1. What is WordPress and How to work in WordPress
  2. How to introduce yourself.

Day 3-5

Covers the basics of expository writing and CV writing.

Day 6

Covers persuasive writing.Please check the following articles.

  1. HOW TO WRITE AN OP-ED: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
  2. Handout of video class.

Day 7-9

Covers how to write research-based opinion writing.

  1. How to frame an argument
  2. How to write an opinion piece

Day 10

Personal journal writing (my diary)

Day 11-13

Figure of speech and rhetoric.

Day 14-16

How to frame questions.

  1. Art of questioning

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Types of Figure of Speech with examples (Part 1)

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Accumulation

Accumulation is a figure of speech, in which the points made previously are presented again in a compact, forceful manner. It often employs the use of climax in the summation of a speech.

Examples:

  1. We learned communication, we learned types of writing, we learned rhetoric, we learned figure of speech. In all this, we made new friends, we spent hours together.
  2. He founded Nepal; fought for unification, fought for diversity. Leaving wife and child home, he set to occupy the land of people, land of flowers and trees. And he built a country that we call Nepal.
  3. Your organization, your vigilance, your devotion to duty, your zeal for the cause must be raised to the highest intensity.” Winston Churchill, Speech, 14 July 1941. (This sentence comes after a lengthy passage in which Churchill warns the public that their courage and effort are still needed to defeat the enemy).

Adomination

A figure of speech that refers to the repetition of words with the same root word.

Examples:

  1. I will be somewhere, someday, settled with somebody in some place.
  2. I am nobody, reaching no where in this no man’s land.
  3. In the vastness of universe, I am vastly clueless.

Alliteration

A literary stylistic device, where a series of words in a row have the same first consonant sound.

Examples:

  1. Nepalese never nag about Nepal not nationalising.
  2. Looks like lion likes licking lizard.
  3. Come count my comb.

Adynaton

A figure of speech in the form of hyperbole taken to such extreme lengths as to insinuate a complete impossibility.

Examples:

  1. I will meet you when sun rises from west.
  2. Before I finish the work, I will grow a horn.
  3. Stone will talk but she won’t.

Anacoluthon

Derives from the Greek word anakolouthon, literally means “lacking sequence”, is a figure of speech which consists in the abrupt disruption in syntax. Opens in new window resulting from two non-parallel grammatical constructions.

Examples:

  1. I am hungry – have you never played football?
  2. I miss the burgher at – did you see my daughter?
  3. Never in my life – what’s in your mind?

Anadiplosis

The repetition of the last word of a preceding clause. The word is used at the end of a sentence and then used again at the beginning of the next sentence..

Examples:

  1. It’s midnight. Midnight with stars. Stars with the moon. Moon looking at my window. Window hiding me.
  2. “Fear leads to angerAnger leads to hateHate leads to suffering.”
  3. “Your beliefs become your thoughtsyour thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

Anaphora

A rhetorical device that consists of repeating a sequence of words at the beginnings of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis.

Examples:

  1. When you felt like giving up, when you felt like crying, when you felt like hitting the wall, just do it.
  2. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way
  3. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Anastrophe

A figure of speech in which the normal word order of the subject, the verb, and the object is changed.

Examples:

  1. Instead of I like Nepal, “Nepal I like.”
  2. World I want to change.
  3. I, her will keep loving till the end

Anti-Climax

It is when a specific point, expectations are raised, everything is built-up and then suddenly something boring or disappointing happens.

Examples:

  1. He killed the king, freed the people, and took the sword and killed himself.
  2. People, pets, batteries, … all are dead.
  3. He loved her so much …he killed her.

Anthimeria

is the usage of a word in a new grammatical form, most often the usage of a noun as a verb.

Examples:

  1. Can you please google to find out the meaning of “anthimeria”? (google is actually noun)
  2. The thunder would not peace at my bidding.
  3. Let’s do some eating. (verb being used as noun)

Antimetabole

the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order.

Examples:

  1. Eat to live, not live to eat
  2. All crime is vulgar, just as all vulgarity is crime.
  3. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Antistrophe

The repetition of the same word or words at the end of successive phrases, clauses or sentences.

Examples:

  1. There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.
  2. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
  3. Nepal is beautiful. Nepalese are beautiful. Her style is beautiful. Her heart is beautiful.

Antithesis

is used in writing or speech either as a proposition that contrasts with or reverses some previously mentioned proposition, or when two opposites are introduced together for contrasting effect.

Examples:

  1. I am rich man who longs for a poverty.
  2. When in war, we long for peace; when in peace, we long for war.
  3. Let’s play with the fire to feel the rain.

Aphorismus

It often appears in the form of a rhetorical question which is meant to imply a difference between the present thing being discussed and the general notion of the subject. Statement that calls into question the definition of a word.

Examples:

  1. You eat meat and you call yourself animal lover?.
  2. How can you call this country a peaceful country when everywhere is chaos?.
  3. How am I even a writer with this kind of writing?

Aposiopesis

A figure of speech wherein a sentence is deliberately broken off and left unfinished, the ending to be supplied by the imagination, giving an impression of unwillingness or inability to continue.

Examples:

  1. Please leave my home or else – !.
  2. I want to go home now. If not.
  3. And she left with. I don’t even want to share.

Apposition

Apposition is a grammatical construction in which two elements, normally noun phrases, are placed side by side and so one element identifies the other in a different way.

Examples:

  1. Nepal, my home, is where I want to die.
  2. My brother, Mr. Suresh, is joining me.
  3. Mr. Oli, a famous politician, is giving a speech.

Assonance

Repetition of vowel sounds

Examples:

  1. Reave, please leave.
  2. Hire and fire.
  3. Write so bright that it will frighten right.

ASTEISMUS (not needed but know it anyway)

he rhetorical term for achieving polite or soft mockery whereby the replier catches a sensitive word and redirects it back to the interlocutor with an unexpected twist. Example:

  • Judge: You’re charged with vagrancy. Are you guilty or not guilty?
    Ollie: Not guilty, Your Highness.
    Judge: On what grounds?
    Stan: We weren’t on the grounds. We were sleeping on the park bench.

Asyndeton

A literary scheme in which one or several conjunctions are deliberately omitted from a series of related clauses.

Examples:

  1. He ran, he climbed, he conquered .
  2. I wanted to participate, i made it.
  3. Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Cataphora

Co-reference of one expression with another expression which follows it, in which the latter defines the first. 

Examples:

  1. If you want to eat something, there is pizza in the freeze.
  2. If you want her, she is Ms. Lisa.
  3. He is an idiot. He is a douche. He is lazy. He is my friend, Nishant.

Climax

a figure of speech in which words, phrases, or clauses are arranged in order of increasing importance. Or say, a figure of speech in which successive words, phrases, clauses, or sentences are arranged in ascending order of importance, as in “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”

Examples:

  1. When there is job, when there is peace, and when there is love, happiness occurs.
  2. We want freedom, liberty and democracy.
  3. Men and women are equal, but above, it’s the responsibility.

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