756 Lebanese Individuals and 486 Companies Named In Panama Leaks

Panama Leaks

I find it weird that no Lebanese media has been all over the Lebanese aspect of the Panama Leaks and the names that have rose to prominence as part of those documents.

The Panama Leaks have been, over the past two months, the biggest and most extensive data reveal into the corruption that reaches up to celebrities, politicians and governments. They basically name people who have set up shell corporations in Panama for a variety of purposes.

A shell corporation is a company that serves as a vehicle for other operations without itself having significant assets or operations per se. It serves a multitude of processes, and it can be used for legitimate reasons, but they can also be used for tax evasions.

The Panama Leaks are already shuffling political cards around the world. UK PM David Cameron was faced with huge protests after being named in the leaks. The prime minster of Iceland was even forced to resign after he was named in those leaks as well.

Recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) made the data available for the public to see and sift through, so I went ahead and saw how many Lebanese were involved in such leaks.

This does not mean that the Lebanese companies and individuals named in those leaks have committed anything illegal. Shell corporations can be used for money laundering, tax evasions, among other things. If anything, the complete neglect that Lebanese media has put over the leaks and their Lebanese aspect is the fishier aspect of it all.

The question to ask is: why do some Lebanese banks need to establish shell companies abroad when laws in the country are extremely favorable for them to begin with? And why do Lebanese individuals need to establish such companies in the first place, given that Lebanon’s banking system is secretive, where taxes are kept at a minimum and where the economy framework is built on a laisser-faire approach, rather than an actual developmental plan, which enables the individuals who can establish shell companies from not needing to.

Of the names revealed by the Panama Leaks, I cite the following:

  • Tahseen Khayat, a businessman and head of New TV,
  • Neaamat Fram, a CEO of many companies around the country such as Industrial Development Company.
  • Elias Bou Saab, current minister of education,
  • Nader Hariri, Saad’s cousin.

Of the companies revealed by the Panama Leaks, the following are examples:

  • HSBC Lebanon,
  • Audi Bank,
  • New TV,
  • Medgulf.

I search for other politicians but couldn’t find any. Search queries for Miqati, Hariri, Safadi, and other moguls have yielded no findings. Don’t fret though, those people have plenty to be happy about in Switzerland. 

For the full names, click here.

The Age of Fortunetellers

Last time I checked, fortunetelling was reserved for New Year’s Eve when people with some form of “sight” grace our airwaves to tell us what to expect over the coming year – although they give themselves a few years as a range to make sure what they say eventually happens.
It got to a point where all our TV stations would host anyone. Those who pay the most get prodigy Michel Hayek. Those who can’t get Michel Hayek but are high profile enough get Layla Abdul Latif. And if you’re miserable like NewTV, you get an Australian card reader and give her pictures of our political leaders for her to look at.

However, it seems that the dark times the region is witnessing have gotten Layla Abdul Latif to get her “sight” together and inundate the world with predictions that will eventually happen. It might be in a year, or two, or ten. One could never know. It seems she’s also hell-bent on overthrowing Michel Hayek as Lebanon’s most celebrated neo-prophet.

Did you know we are having elections next year? Did you also know it’s going to be based on the 2009 law which everyone “theoretically” hates but no one is willing to change? Did you know the Sunnis and the Shia of Lebanon will NOT kill each other more than they already are?
Did you also know that Lebanon will soon become an oil exporter? Yes, because the massive amounts of national gas and petrol we’re sitting on are not meant to stay there apparently. You can check out the rest of the “predictions” here.

So people tune in to LBC which gets all the audience numbers of a Sunday night and even though they ridicule Layla Abdul Latif for the “visions” she gets, they still listen. And even though what she says is an absolutely logical reading of what might happen, somehow the clout she has thrown around herself as someone with a “gift” makes people feel more secure somehow.

It is the age of fortunetellers. And since fortunetelling seems to be in lately, I’ve decided to try my hand at it. *clears throat* these are my predictions for an unnamed period in time:

– People will continue dying in Syria until the revolution ends. Some people will die after that too.
– The Future movement will keep on hating Hezbollah. And vice versa.
– The animosity between the FPM and the LF will not decrease.
– Wi2am Wahhab will witness a markedly decreased spoken words per minute rate.
– Michel Aoun will become more paranoid.
– Samir Geagea’s word-repeats will extend to new items in the vocabulary.
– Saad Hariri is enjoying his vacation in France. But he will return eventually.
– Hassan Nasrallah has a thing for underground bunkers and will not leave his anytime soon.
– The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no near ending in sight.
– The Lebanese people will vote for the same people in 2013 and they will then nag about the same people reaching power again.
– The 2013 elections will witness below the belt accusations thrown by the different camps at each other.
– The 2013 elections will feature an increased role for social media. Bloggers will be paid to support one candidate over another.
– Saudi Arabia will suppress its women even further.
– The Islamic revolution in Iran will come up with new interesting ridiculous fatwas.
– The Middle East’s Christians will remain panicky about their future.
– The United States will remain divided between Obama lovers and Obama haters.
– The United States will be hit by new hurricanes… Eventually.
– Sh*t will keep hitting the fan in Greece.
– Big quantities of rotten and expired food will be discovered somewhere within the 10452km2 of Lebanon.
– People will keep violating the smoking ban without any repercussions whatsoever.
– Lebanon will not see an improvement in abiding by traffic laws in the near future.
– There will be new anti-Islam material which cause outrage across the Muslim world.
– Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch will vote for the pope that will succeed Benedict XVI.
– Apple will release a new iPhone that keeps the iPhone 5’s form factor. And people will nag. Droids will hate. Everyone will buy anyway.
– Samsung will lose yet another lawsuit and be made to pay another billion.
– World peace will not happen.

I personally do not have the gift of “sight” and I came up with these while a physician was lecturing me about anemias. But if Michel Hayek and Layla Abdul Latif do it, why not me? Enno shou we2fet 3layon?
Now who wants to pay me thousands of dollars to host me on some TV show? I have stuff to buy and vacations to plan and people to fool.

The Man Who Burned Down New TV (Al-Jadeed)

Because accepting a differing opinion with a free spirit is not the norm, we’ve reached a level where we attack TV stations that broadcast anything we disagree with – despite that TV station breathing “our” air, for the most time.

NewTV, which is pro-March 8 in Lebanon, was attacked yesterday by one of March 8’s supporters. His name is Wissam Alaeddine. He is one of an armed gang that committed the act.

Why did Wissam attack New TV?

Because a day earlier they had the audacity to host extremist Sunni cleric Ahmad el Assir who trashed Hezbollah and Amal, the former of which Mr. Alaeddine supports.

How did I know this? Well, everyone has Facebook. Even Wissam. And he supports the cause of “Sayyed Hassan” whatever that may be. (link).

Soon after hosting Al Assir yesterday, and after the uproar that followed, New TV basically disowned Al Assir and anything he had said using their platform. They had gotten their ratings. Their political scoop was made.

But someone saw it differently. How dare New TV stray from the path it always followed? How dare they not continue their 24/7 brainwashing – like other Lebanese TV stations – that is needed for the ignorant masses? How dare they broadcast anything that uses “Sayyed Hassan’s” name in vain?

Shame on them, shame on them. Let’s burn them down. Burn them all down.

And that’s what they tried to do.

Here’s how it is Lebanese media, now that the sarcastic bit is over: you are not allowed to diversify your scope. Some people won’t be happy with that and if they have the resources they will act upon it. Wissam Alaeddine was caught. But he’s part of a dangerous and growing ideology that those who speak differently from what “we” think need to be terminated and silenced.

Good luck Al-Jadeed with the Ahmad el Assir aftermath.