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HSBC Brazilian Clients | The Deafening Silence

Screenshot from 2015-02-12 15:45:50

«The deathly silence in the Brazilian media over the HSBC scandal»

The report comes at a time when corruption is under intense investigation in Brazil, in connection to what prosecutors call Brazil’s biggest graft scandal yet uncovered, a massive kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras. … In terms of sheer number of accounts, Brazil came in at No. 4, with 8,667 accounts linked to clients who were Brazilian citizens or held a Brazilian passport. —ABC News

Author: Diário do Centro do Mundo | Paulo Nogueira

The silence of the Brazilian news media with respect to the leaking of secret accounts at HSBC in Switzerland is unacceptable.

CartaCapital ran a piece on its Web site this morning. On which more later.

I browse through the major news media and find that the coverage is absent or, at best, inferior.

But the numbers involved justify making a much bigger deal of the episode.

In the case of Brazil, 8,667 accounts were located holding a total of US$ 7 billion undeclared assets, for example.

The columnists also surprised me. Where is their indignation? Where is their habitual stridency? Where is their news sense?

I take a look at the Twitter account of Noblat, for example. In the last two days, a hundred tweets, and not one on the so-called «Swissleaks» affair.

Explore excerpts from the data here.

I check out Reinaldo Azevedo as well — a man never at a loss for words. Nothing on HSBC.

These are two examples among many similar omissions.

The absence of public information and debate demonstrates something that I have always seen very clearly. The courage of these people only goes as far as the risk of angering their employers.

These columns represent lap-dog journalism, «papist» journalism, scab journalism.

«Papist» and the other adjectives are blunt slurs, for which I apologize. The dark side has its allure in a society where journalists are often hunger artists.

Lap-dog journalism, papist journalism, scab journalism — or journalism for sale, pure and simple.

And what if the boss of one of the columnist finds their name on the list?

In Argentina, Clarín is at the head of the parade of tax avoiders.

Better, then, to ignore the topic.

All over the world, news media has been mining the data for significant names. In Brazil, for example – it seems like a piece of black humor — there appears the name of a dead man: the banker Edmond Safra.

And thanks to a site published in Angola, we also know that the Bus King of Rio, Jacob Barata, is also on the list.

«The Godfather»

The last time I saw Barata in the news he was attending the wedding of a granddaughter. Gilmar Mendes of the Supreme Court was one of the godfathers.

Imagine, just imagine, that this information legally compromises Barata and his case makes it to the Supreme Court?

What would Gilmar do?

Journalists, as the best of us, Pulitzer, said, have no friends. And friendships interfere with reporting the news.

Judges should also have no friends. But in Brazil, they do.

So the reaction of our media does not surprise me. I know it too well to expect any different.

But the government: does it have nothing to say?

Are our coffers overflowing to the extent that we can just gloss over a search for billions in undeclared wealth?

It doesn’t seem that way.

Consider what Spain is doing. Its finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, announced he would apply “legal measures against HSBC for its role in tax fraud, money laundering and other criminal acts committed by Spanish citizens.”

In 2010, the Spanish government gained access to 650 names of persons with secret Swiss accounts.

It went after them all, one after the other. The Botin family, for example, which controls Santander, negotiated a settlement with the government. It paid 200 million euros, or around R$ 600 million.

The leftist opposition in Spain is fighting to amend the legislation so that all the names of tax evaders be made public.

In Brazil, the context is totally different — and much, much worse.

Not long before Joaquim Levy was named to head the Treasury, the bank where he worked, Bradesco, was massacred over a tax case in the fiscal paradise of Luxembourg.

In Brazil, Globo has been dealing with a spectacular history of tax evasion for the last two years — without legal or financial repercussions.

Globo continues to receive its monthly advertising as though it were honoring all its commitments to the Treasury.

Either the Spanish — and the rest of the world — are mistaken, or the mistaken ones are us.

Take your pick.