The 'Pandora Papers'

It's no surprise that the world's rich and powerful hide their billions in secret off-shore trusts. But the latest report by a group of international journalists actually names names.

“This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is 'no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look."Oxfam

A.P. reports that hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders, and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts, and other assets for the past quarter-century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 firms located around the world.

The report released yesterday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It’s being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on the previously hidden dealings and thievery of the elite and the corrupt, and how they have used offshore accounts to illegally shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars.

That’s trillions of dollars that should have gone into public treasuries to be used for social needs.

The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, and associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Something’s missing, you say? What, no American billionaires on the list?

Well obviously, that’s because U.S. .1-%ers, oligarchs, and plutocrats are better than that, have the highest of ethical standards, and willingly pay their fair share of taxes.

Right? Well, not exactly.

America's wealthiest billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, do not appear in the Pandora Papers. Financial experts say that the absence of many of America's wealthiest comes down to a lack of incentive due to the generous rates they pay domestically.

Other experts speculated that it may also be that they use different havens, such as the Cayman Islands, which weren't reflected in the papers.

But if American people are absent from the list, the United States themselves are not.Donald Trump is mentioned due to his involvement in a Panama hotel project, but the Pandora documents don't appear to reveal significant new information about his accounts.

ICIJ did identify more than 700 companies with beneficial owners connected to the U.S. in the Pandora Papers; Americans were also among the top 20 nationalities represented in the data. In the Pandora Papers, Russia, the United Kingdom, Argentina, China, and Brazil, are among the countries with the largest representation of beneficial owners.

In the previously-released Paradise Papers, a similar project released in 2016 by the same journalistic group U.S. citizens had a larger relative presence. A trove of 13.4 million records exposed ties between Russia and Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the offshore interests of the queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world. In all, the offshore ties of more than a dozen Trump advisers, Cabinet members, and major donors appear in the leaked data.

Actually, the current report does implicate some 200 U.S. trust providers who have taken advantage of some states’ laws that promote secrecy and help wealthy overseas clients hide wealth to avoid taxes in their home countries. The largest number registered in South Dakota.

That explains a lot about South Dakota politics.