It is the theory of journalism that everything is the business of everybody. A desire for secrecy is met with suspicion, as though there are no good reasons for people to keep things secret. The concept is brought into focus by about eleven million documents were stolen from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca being reported as the documents being “leaked” by journalists and broadcasters who have unhealthy high opinions of themselves and their own moral purpose.
There are many corner of the world where “off shore” companies can be established. The Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Monaco have been at this game far longer than has Panama. The United Kingdom and France, despite all their self-proclaimed efforts of prevent tax fraud, have allowed these jurisdictions to continue, rather in the same way that Panama has operated.
There are always nefarious reasons for secrecy but also there are good reasons for secrecy, whether that secrecy is established through an offshore company in a dodgy jurisdiction or numbered banks accounts, blind trusts and bearer shares. Here are some reasons to be secret:-
- To protect against state tyranny; even states that today might be regarded as benign can become malevolent.
- To protect against crime, particularly kidnapping.
- To protect oneself and one’s family so that they can enjoy a peaceful life, free from media intrusion; most media intrusion is not to expose vice or folly, but to sell advertising.
- To protect commercial confidentiality and business.
- To keep your affair’s private, in order to avoid enemies damaging you.