Pandora papers reveal financial ploys of powerful, including in South Dakota

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And the word the herald of the gods put / and named the maid

Pandora / since everyone who runs Olympian homes had given him gifts / sorrows for the hard-working men.

– Hesiod, Works and days

The power of money is seldom visible. At its strongest, it operates invisibly and largely inaudible. Often we only see what it produces: an unqualified idiot is elected to Congress, a national economy “mysteriously” collapses, a village is destroyed by a chemical spill, or a town finds its drinking water is running out. a chemical set. And after finding out that the idiot is standing up for a billionaire from Kansas, or that a congressional committee authorized the financial services industry to embark on a wave of crime, or that an autocratic prime minister or a mayor wayward has been sublet by God knows who. Not much is happening, and the power of money continues, invisible and largely inaudible.

Occasionally.

Over the weekend, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists partnered with 150 media outlets to drop the results of its study of 11.9 million corporate documents with an M. This formidable exercise in actual reporting has describes what can rightfully be called a global underground economy that benefits all kinds of autocrats, alleged democrats, and outright criminals.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has obtained the mine of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets who spent two years sifting through them, searching for sources. difficult to find and to search in court records. and other public documents from dozens of countries.

The leaked documents come from 14 offshore service companies around the world who have established shell companies and other offshore nooks and crannies for clients often looking to keep their financial businesses in the dark. The files contain information on the transactions of nearly three times as many current and former leaders of countries as any previous leak of documents from offshore havens.

It’s an economy built on secret offshore banks, private money-laundering empires, and plans to plunder entire nations and hide profits in treasure chests made of pixels and mattresses made of deceptive papers.

The secret documents expose the offshore transactions of the King of Jordan, the Presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The files also detail the financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial propaganda minister” and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey and other countries. Leaked documents reveal that many powerful players who could help end the offshore system are profiting instead – by hiding assets in secret societies and trusts while their governments do little to slow a global flow. illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes. nations.

Indeed, in a way that would seem comical if it weren’t so evil and destructive, the leak, now called The Pandora Papers, exposes a remarkable number of politicians who have been elected on “anti-corruption” platforms that have then proceeded to enter things. with both hands and a jute bag as soon as they take up their duties.

A $ 22 million castle on the French Riviera – complete with a cinema and two swimming pools – bought via offshore companies by the populist Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, a billionaire who has denounced the corruption of economic elites and policies.

Which is not to minimize the purely parasitic.

Three beachfront mansions in Malibu were bought through three offshore companies for $ 68 million by the King of Jordan in the years when Jordanians took to the streets during the Arab Spring to protest unemployment and the corruption.

It is here that we note that King Abdullah awards an annual transparency award, because words no longer mean what they say.

King Abdullah of Jordan is a powerful man with powerful friends.

Alex wongGetty Images

Ah, you might be thinking, what does this have to do with the oldest democracy in the world? The Pandora Papers also have something for us. It looks like South Dakota has transformed in the Cayman Islands with snow plows. Of Washington post:

The records provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals the notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean over financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now hosted by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of which are linked to individuals and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing .

Perhaps the most disturbing revelations for the United States, however, center on its growing complicity in the offshore economy. South Dakota, Nevada, and other states have adopted financial secrecy laws that rival those of offshore jurisdictions. Records show executives of foreign governments, their relatives, and companies shifting their private fortunes into US-based trusts.

In 2019, for example, family members of the former vice president of the Dominican Republic, who once ran one of the country’s largest sugar producers, finalized several trusts in South Dakota. The trusts held personal wealth and shares in the company, which has been accused of human and labor rights violations, including illegally razing the homes of impoverished families to expand plantations.

Okay, given that if it weren’t for the phantom possessions and money laundering, the Nevada story would be about a zinc mine with poisonous snakes, it wasn’t really A suprise. But Lord, it’s been a tough month for South Dakota. First, the state attorney general kills a guy with his car and pretty much skates. Then, the national ambitions of Governor Kristi Noem take a hit because the GA got back to his office on time to start researching how Noem’s daughter got a real estate expert’s license. And now it turns out to be a place where who knows who can hide their money.

And, finally, here is one of the saddest revelations of all.

The richest citizens of the United States, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post; Tesla founder Elon Musk; Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates; and billionaire investor Warren Buffett – do not appear in the documents.

Financial experts have said that the uber-rich in the United States tend to pay tax rates so low that they have less incentive to seek out offshore havens. But their absence from the records may also mean that very wealthy Americans are turning to different offshore jurisdictions – including the Cayman Islands – and companies different from those depicted in the Pandora documents.

One can only hope this is true. I would hate to think that our plutocrats don’t need to hide their money because their tax rates are too low. It’s too depressing to contemplate.

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