Another Huge Leak Excludes US Oligarchs – Odd
The Pandora Papers, a massive leak of private data about the illicit financial activities of the super-wealthy, will be supplying revelations for weeks and probably months to come. Still, from wwe’vee’ve detected, none of those caught or exposed in this revelation include US Oligarchs.
The Pandora Papers undertaking involves 600 journalists from 117 countries and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinates what they describe as “the largest-ever journalistic collaborative.” (You can follow rolling releases at The Washington Post, the US partner in the collaboration, and The Guardian, the UK partner.)
Five and a half years ago, the ICIJ released the Panama Papers, which focused on a leak from a single Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. According to Gerald Ryle, director of the ICIJ, the Pandora Papers “re “the Panama Papers on steroids.”
Wealth Firms Cater to the Rich
The Pandora leaks come from confidential records at 14 different offshore wealth service firms in Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Samoa, Vietnam, Hong Kong, andagers in well-known tax havens such as Belize and Seyche and andlles, The Bahamas, and the British Virgin Islands. These firms help wealthy individuals and corporations to form trusts and foundations, incorporate companies, and establish other entities in low- or no-tax jurisdictions.
The Pandora team analyzed almost 12 million files from these firms, including leaked e-mails, memos, tax declarations, bank statements, passport scans, diagrams of corporate structures, personal spreadsheets, and clandestine real estate contracts. Some reveal the real owners of opaque shell companies for the first time.
In the coming weeks, we will learn more about the 130 global billionaires with ownership entities in secrecy jurisdictions (100 with total assets worth more than $600 billion in 2021). US citizens are still not showing upin these leaks, mainly because of where the wealthy service providers were located. In addition, no US wealth-advisory firms were part of the leaks. Nonetheless, more than 700 companies revealed in the Pandora Papers have ties to real human owners in the US.
The US is Now a Tax Haven
The big news for the rest of the world is how the United States has become a significant tax haven and global destination for illicit wealth. Earlier leaks, such as the Panama and Paradise papers, reinforced the misperception that most financial shell games take”place “of”shore,” in secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens in small countries with weak banking laws.
The Pandora disclosures found that US states with the most active trusts were South Dakota (81), holding at least $367 billion in assets, Florida (37), Delaware (35), Texas (24), and Nevada (14). Thus, these trusts appear to be catering to mostly non-US citizens.
The Pandora Papers will hopefully turn up the heat on the politicians in the United States and abroad who maintain the wealth-hiding status quo. The files list over 330 current and former politicians and world leaders from 91 countries implicated in transactions. This is twice the number involved in the 2016 Panama Papers.
US transparency activists are mobilizing to keep pressure on US lawmakers. The first step in fixing this is for the United States to clean up its internal tax-havens. Federal laws should override state trust laws that create eternal dynasty trusts; certain forms of trust and loopholes that serve no business purpose other than tax dodging should be outlawed. Next, Congress should fund President Biden’s plan to rebuild the capacity of the IRS to oversee the tax shenanigans of the super-wealthy, ensuring that they pay their fair share.
None of the ‘Leaks’ Include US Citizens (so far)
As with the Panama Papers, the Pandora Papers may have included how our states are being used as tax havens, but for some reason, don’t include wealthy US Oligarchs which raises red flags to a few journalists.
Here is a tweet pointing this out with graphics:
As you can see, whoever hacked or leaked this data ignored the largest contributors to financial secrecy. While it is a substantial amount of data, it doesn’t seem to be very impactful. Especially, for US citizens who would like to know how Oligarchs and their enablers (accountants, lawyers, politicians, judges) help them avoid paying taxes while average Americans see taxes deducted straight from their paychecks every two weeks.
For now, we will see where the leaked data takes us to see if there insights into where the US oligarchs do their offshore banking. Right now, this journalist is skeptical. It feels like another coordinated CIA hack in dump with the ICIJ running as project manager, but we’ll keep an open mind to see where the leaks take us in the coming months.