French weekly magazines review 12 November 2017
Issued on: Modified:
French weeklies name and shame "perverse" tax-fleeing tycoons whose offshore investments are exposed in the Paradise Papers. And can Saudi Arabia's young Crown Prince reform his fundamentalist nation with his ongoing corruption purge?
The Paradise Papers dominate the front pages of the magazines this week, as the commentators expose the individuals and businesses embroiled in this scandal about tax havens.
The leaked documents were obtained by Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and shared with the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media.
Le Canard Enchaîné says that, while it was not privy to the 13.5 million financial documents obtained from the Bermuda-based Appleby law firm which specializes in offshore finance, it was able to dive into the exotic pool of fiscal optimization and is able to name some of the incriminated.
According to the satirical weekly, they include two senior cabinet members of President Trump's administration and about a dozen experts close to tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft otherwise known as the G-5.
Sportswear giant Nike are also in the list, as well as close supporters of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and also Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, pop star Bono.
Even Queen Elizabeth is allegedly involved, leading Le Canard into a joke that the funds discovered in her “Majesty’s accounts “may be “her retirement bonuses”.
Le Canard refers to a recent Le Monde article which estimates the cost of legal and fraudulent tax evasion at 350 billion euros.
What that means, it warns, is that there is still hard work to be done to catch up with the experts always one step ahead and discovering loopholes in legislation to keep offshore investments safe and flourishing.
Still, Marianne argues that the thriving offshore business is proof of the European Union's complacency in dealing with the issue of tax breaks for multinational companies, within the Eurozone and outside.
The left-leaning publication puts the amount of revenue uncollected from multinationals doing business worldwide at 200 billion euros, including 11 billion for France alone.
And, talking about the stranglehold of the so-called "GAFAM" tech giants, the French new journal l'Obs says it is virtually impossible to live without these digital companies. It claims they are just as powerful and omnipresent in the lives of citizens as government institutions in their countries.
L'Obs speaks to a range of experts who list examples of how the handful of individuals influence the opinion of a billion people, forcing them to spend the bulk of their time interacting with their smart phones.
One of these experts slams Google for exploiting its dominance of the internet to promote its own services.
The left-leaning weekly also spoke to French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire who is leading efforts to federate a European coalition favouring a reform of fiscal legislation for the tech giants said to be more powerful than the top five banks in the United States.
Le Maire says it past time for the EU to get the G-5 giants to pay the taxes they owe Europeans, according to l'Obs.
The tech giants may be controlling the lives of the world's population, but Le Point consecrates this week's editorial to two places where it claims the world's history is being written.
It names them as the Spanish region of Catalonia, where ousted Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont abandoned a high flying separatist revolution to flee into exile, and Saudi Arabia, which is being rocked by a "monstrous corruption purge" by Prince Mohamed ben Salmane who has swept aside 11 princes and dozens of ministers, politicians and businessmen.
Le Point says the flight of the so-called "wimpy buffoon", and Madrid's takeover of the regional government, Catalan independence remains inevitable.
On the purge in Saudi Arabia, the right-wing magazine claims that the 32-year-old Crown Prince acted to thwart rising dissent by conservatives opposed to his reform agenda.
Prince Salmane, it says, looks to revamp everything in the kingdom of his father, from Wahhabism, which has gone out of favour with 70 percent of the population aged below 30, and absurd customs which excluded women from public life.
The weekly upholds the opinion that only Muslims themselves can rescue their religion from Islamist putrefaction.
Le Point wonders if the Saudi Crown Prince will go down as Saudi Arabia's Mikhael Gorbachev and become the solution to the country where fundamentalism had become a major problem for Islam.
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