An Actor’s Life: Legalise corruption – The Post

An Actor’s Life: Legalise corruption

They’ve clearly been in demand, and now we’re demanding answers (photo: istock)
May 22nd, 2016 7:00 am| by Ian Burns
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Tax evasion, whether it’s illegal or immoral, remains rife amongst the rich, but given the current climate, there’s hope emerging that its days might be numbered. Or at least that’s what we’re being led to believe.

Offshore trade winds
Sixty-five individuals identified in the Panama Papers are being investigated by SKAT. Meanwhile, British PM David Cameron is chairing a summit to tackle global corruption. Sounds encouraging but something doesn’t sit well with me when Cameron sums up all his conviction to look into the autocue and say: “The time is right.”

The British Virgin Islands (territory type: tax haven; population: 30,000; currency: US dollars) are a notable, but important absentee from this particular gathering.

World leaders say that they’re trying to tackle a huge spidery problem with tentacles that touch all levels of our lives. But I see the bankers and lawyers on the Virgin isles collectively waving their Panama hats in the gentle breeze and warmth of an offshore trade wind, as they help their enormously, fantastically-rich clients count their offshore fortunes.

Hamlet understood
Do Cameron and other leaders really mean business, or is this just another empty summit – a little like the reply of the Dane (don’t miss Hamlet Live; opening hours at Kronborg Castle, Helsingør; June 1-Aug 31; that-theatre.com) to Polonius (my role) when he’s asked what he’s reading. “Words, words, words.” It’s simply the response we want to hear.

Will Dodgy Dave lead the way to name, shame and possibly prosecute people that continue to hide illicit funds and launder their money through London for example? Will he crackdown on tax havens linked to the UK? Place your bets.

A plutocratic pastime
I wonder if the richest 1 percent of the people on our planet compete to see who can avoid paying tax the most successfully? “My fiendishly clever accountants and lawyers are better than your cunningly calculating accountants and lawyers,” they say.

There could be an annual award for the ‘World’s Richest Person’ with a brief breakdown of how they made it to number one? He would make a great TV show.

“Thank you? I don’t think so,” the winner would say. “I’d like to thank Daddy for handing me a fantastic fortune and for teaching me, in the precious few hours he spared to be with me, how to ‘legally’ pay as little tax as possible. My mother sadly can’t be here with us tonight because she’s got Alzheimer’s [or at least that’s her excuse for not seeing you].”

Trumps them all
Donald ‘I’m barking mad’ Trump says one of his ambitions is not to pay any tax! Imagine having that as a reason for getting up in the morning? His name apparently crops up in the Panama Papers (cue imaginary theme tune) over a thousand times.

“Who reads papers anymore?” says Donald. “Papers sell yesterday’s news. I make the news. I’m Donald Trump and when I’m president I’ll legalise corruption”.

Where’s Denmark in all this focus on sleaze I hear you ask? Well, not only is Denmark the happiest country in the world, it is also apparently the least corrupt. Maybe they should be beside Cameron at this summit giving him tips on how to achieve his aim? That would be summat eh? (Yorkshire accent required).

Ian Burns


A resident here since 1990, Ian Burns is the artistic director at That Theatre Company and very possibly Copenhagen’s best known English language actor thanks to roles as diverse as Casanova, Shakespeare and Tony Hancock.