- What a tangled web we weave…to deceive
Even to otherwise sensible and aware people, the accusations constantly cropping up about massive organised corruption committed by politicians, bureaucrats, Public Service Enterprises’ heads and all manner of underlings and hangers-on of the powerful, may appear a mere mirage, or deliberately overblown much ado about nothing, but the harsh reality is quite different and represents a savage indictment of the country’s rapacious elite. Behind the hype definitely lies a reeking scandal of massive proportions, the suspicious smoke emanates from a roaring bonfire and linkages unambiguously point towards involvement of the highest in the land. Such pecuniary (leaving aside intellectual dishonesty and outright ‘fake news’ or lies) scandals regarding leading public figures have become a worldwide phenomenon, with many succumbing to the temptation of lining their own bottomless pockets instead of working for the general uplift and good.
Conviction in such cases is no easy matter, white collar crime being a sophisticated craft grasped only by experts, while the modern banking system and communication technology secludes and secures the wrongdoer from judgment by layer upon layer of trusts, safe havens, off-shore companies, and in the rare case of being discovered, by recourse to top flight legal minds and loopholes in the criminal justice system itself. The case of the protracted Panama Papers is a case in point, with recent convictions of the Sharif family possible only after passing through a convoluted, tortuous, and at times seemingly controversial process. Since the former president Asif Zardari’s runaway rumours of longtime financial shenanigans have seemingly reached that watershed moment when they can finally be laid at his doorstep and proven in a court of law, the Supreme Court has hinted at another JIT of the Sharif family variation to conclude this long-outstanding case of fits and starts, which concerns the mighty, kickbacks, money laundering of Rs35 billion and counting, 29 fake accounts, thousands of fictitious transactions using three local banks, now fatal friendships, and public money plundered ruthlessly. Non-cooperation can only invite additional time as the government’s forced guest, and delay in judgment the wrath of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), which stands ready with the blacklisting cudgel. High-level money laundering must be cleaned up with an iron broom.