A Book to Help One Understand the Root of Corruption in South Africa

The new book The Unaccountables: The Powerful Politicians and Corporations who Profit from Impunity is welcome for the way it contextualises corruption. It shows how politicians and bureaucrats could not implement corruption without their corporate and professional enablers – the accountants, auditors and advocates who make it all possible. The book fills some gaps in media reports. These tend to focus on those who are despised by the plutocratic, wealthy establishment – the ruling African National Congress politicians and their cronies. The media are comparatively reluctant to cover crimes committed by fellow denizens of their plutocratic stratosphere, such as auditors, accountants and advocates. For example, global media coverage of Hong Kong focuses on Chinese repression of freedom of expression – but overlooks its role as a tax shelter and corporate secrecy hideout for front companies and money laundering. The authors note how over 500 global corporations negotiated, thanks to their tax accountants, with Luxembourg, a tax haven, paying only 1% tax on their profits. They seem to have missed the case of Ireland, where such tax is one thousandth of 1% on profits. Such tax shelters pervade the west, especially Commonwealth countries.

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