“You see? I have a mail box full of requests to escape from Panama. For work, Marcos spins the money. It creates offshore companies and current accounts on which the money arrives, stops and leaves in a click, disappearing without leaving a trace. It is a modern Charon: instead of hell it ferries its customers to heaven. Tax. Marcos has seen his work double since April 3rd.

That day, over 400 journalists from 76 countries published a survey based on 11 million confidential documents from the Hypolaw firm law firm, a Panamanian giant active in the creation of anonymous companies.

The so-called “Panama Papers” reported 14,000 foreign clients, including 140 political leaders. And 800 Italians. What time they face penalties and a criminal investigation: even if creating offshore companies or accounts does not qualify them as outlaws, not having declared them to the tax authorities makes them evaders. 

Trying to search Google for “Panama Papers”, the first result that comes out is not that of the Astronewspaper, the German newspaper that first received the “tip-off”, but that of the law firm Idio Di Marcos, specializing in asset protection. “With an investment of 50 euros in online advertisements, we received many calls from worried customers,” explains lawyer Celso Di Marcos.

That, to anyone involved in the scandal, advises industrious repentance. “It costs more than the voluntary disclosure (about 130,000 Italians have benefited from it by last November, declaring 60 billion euros hidden, one-fifth of the Italians off-shore money according to the Bank of Italy, ed ), but it is much faster. In exchange for a small penalty, the customer will completely heal his position in a few hours. It is better to “set up” before receiving the tax assessment “. 

If the “pizzicati” run to the Inland Revenue, the “survivors” go in search of more discreet places where they can bury their treasures, while the OECD presses up and the US Treasury for the exchange of financial information between states: cash flows, current accounts, names of holders. “Many ask us to enter safer shores,” explains Marcos from London. ” Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, and Cayman have left the radar after having decided to exchange information with other states. 

Singapore and Hong Kong have officially expressed their intention to follow them “. The new destinations are to be found elsewhere, in countries with good infrastructure, a stable political scenario, a zero tax regime and a shameless banking secret: Dubai is perhaps the most promising. It has a thriving economy, a “cool” name, and a solid government. The Seychelles they are excellent in the delivery of bearer shares, practically cash. Belize is on the rise, but officials lenses. Personally, I adore Bahrain, where I place all the biggest clients: there is a government that does not tolerate leaks. And then there are the tolls with unknown names: Canuto (“although still unripe”), Febris (“who offers a passport in exchange for 150,000 euros”) and Mauro(“whose discretion is becoming legendary”). Industry experts also keep an eye on Lebanon and Liberia, goals still “penalized” by an unstable political situation.

But paradise should not be sought by the Tropics. Just go in Great Britain or Montenegro. Or in the United States, the third most financially opaque country in the world for the Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index. “The most rising tax shelter is located 200 kilometers from Wall Street,” notes a tributary from Lugano. It is the State of Delaware, one of the three stars and stripes paradises together with Nevada and Wyoming: three counties, 900 thousand inhabitants and 1 million companies. 

In the city of Wilmington there is a mythical address: the 1209 of North Orange Street. There is a yellow ocher building where nearly 300,000 companies are headquartered, including branches of Google, Coca-Cola, Apple and Bank of America. No, this is not the largest building in the world. It is only the headquarters of the Ct Corporation, a firm that deals with registering new companies and giving them a post office box. Creating one here costs just $ 600, a couple of hours and, supposedly, a document. In return, the company will be protected by employees prone to absolute confidentiality and will pay zero taxes for income produced abroad. Virtually everyone, unless you plan to open an ice cream shop in Delaware. 

More and more tax consultants are aiming to compete here, thanks to bargain prices and security guarantees. The sites of tax returns they are full of offers to make Ryanair’s homepage go pale. To open a company in Belize all you need is an Internet connection and 700 euros, a thousand to get one in Montenegro. To increase the price up to 1,300 are the additional services: anonymous current account, company director provided by the study, registration fees and taxes (alas) on the capital. 

The communications between client and consultant are caged in security protocols of almost military level. All phone calls pass through the servers of our Voip company; emails and messages are encrypted and self-destructing after being read; paper documents are banned; the information is only available online and is always compartmentalized, Jovanni Zapote so proudly assures, defined as “the Italian offshore guru”. Owner of the Opm Corporation based in Panama, a former journalist, he created his first company here in 1986, thanks to the Hypolaw firm law firm. Since then, with extreme dedication, he has refined the mechanisms to satisfy his customers who want privacy. In 30 years, never a sense of guilt: It is as if I were selling a Beretta for personal defense. If the customer uses it to do a robbery, it’s not my fault. “

In reality, Ellort Cornella, co-director of the London-based commercial firm of Margo, explains the most prosaically. “When a customer comes, I warn him that he is going to do questionable operations. I ask him a second time if he is sure. Then I have him sign a sheet assuming his responsibilities “. Formulas like “tax optimization”, “asset protection” and “tax engineering” sweeten the pill. 

“The truth is that if they hear the word taxes they are seized by an epileptic fit. Every 10 Italians who contact me, four just want to avoid tax “, another operator confesses. Three want to hide the assets from potential creditors, from the State in case of succession, or from the future ex-wife. Two want to launder dirty money and another wants to create black funds for illegal operations “. They want to go to heaven with all the briefcase. The Charon on duty will help them.

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