The Panama papers are all about the ‘Resource Curse’

Today’s Spain’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism José Manuel Soria has stepped down “after his conflicting explanations inflamed a scandal over links to an offshore company listed in the Panama leaks.” (quoted from Bloomberg)

Note something interesting about this – a lot of the politicians/policy makers involved in the Panama leaks are in someway related to the energy and commodity sectors and I am pretty sure that if you ranked the countries most tainted by this it would all be commodity exporting countries.

Take for example these names – who all are on the list of names in the Panama Papers:

Angola: José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, Minister of Petroleum

Venezuela: Jesús Villanueva, former Director of PDVSA (the State owned oil and gas company)

Algeria: Abdeslam Bouchouareb, Minister of Industry and Mines

…and of course Soria who was among other things was minister of….ENERGY.

This to a very large extent illustrates the problem of corruption and cronyism that is often related to rent-seeking in commodity producing countries.

Said in another way the Panama leaks are to a very large extent an illustration of the so-called Resource Curse and unlike what most of the European media have been focusing on about “tax shelters”.

Leave a comment


  1. But Panama wasn’t designed to launder money. It was designed to launder earnings – mainly by the oil & gas industries, and mining industry.

  2. Lars, why not name them the “State curse”. in most of these countries, commodity resources ara state property, so, resource rent is defined as fiscal revenues. Oil, coffee, copper, etc; in general commodities, are not by itself a curse, but how is resource rent defined in terms of property rights. So, we have to look a the way property rights over these resources ara defined in these countries.

    • James Alexander

       /  April 16, 2016

      Poorly paid (or even only intermittently paid) state bureaucrats are a rich source of corruption. Not really their fault.

      • I do not agree, these bureaucrats are very well paid, The corruption it is generated due to lower salaries..

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