Originally published on November 7, 2017 at NationofChange.org
In response to the recent Paradise Papers leak disclosing nearly 7 million financial documents detailing high-profile offshore accounts and tax havens, Sen. Bernie Sanders called for an investigation into the disclosures before even considering the GOP’s new tax plan. Due to the fact that most of the information in the leak involved U.S. citizens, residents, and companies, Sanders also urged Americans to “end the rapid movement toward international oligarchy.”
On November 2, Sanders issued a statement concerning the Republican tax plan: “Donald Trump is labeling the disastrous Republican tax bill as the ‘Cut, Cut, Cut Act’ and he is right. At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, this bill would cut taxes for billionaires by repealing the estate tax. When corporations are making record-breaking profits, this bill would slash taxes for companies that are shifting American jobs to China and profits to the Cayman Islands. And if this bill passes it would blow a giant hole in the deficit, forcing massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
“Just as we defeated the Republican health care bill, our job now is to bring people together to defeat this disastrous tax bill and to create an economy and government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
On Monday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published an extensive exploration into 13.4 million leaked files from a leading offshore law firm named Appleby, a trust company named Asiaciti, and from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The leaked documents disclose major offshore accounts held by Queen Elizabeth II, several associates of President Donald Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser while revealing tax avoidance schemes implemented by multinational corporations, including Apple and Nike.
“The major issue of our time is the rapid movement toward international oligarchy in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy,” Sanders recently told The Guardian. “The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”
According to the Paradise Papers, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his ongoing business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and another Putin associate who is currently under U.S. sanctions. During his confirmation hearing, Ross promised to divest himself of any financial ties with a potential conflict of interest. But Ross continues to invest in the shipping company, Navigator Holdings, which is finically linked to Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter, while the special prosecutor continues to investigate and indict Trump’s associates for possible Russian collusion during last year’s election.
In an interview with MSNBC, Sen. Richard Blumenthal accused Ross of deceiving the American public and asserted, “If he fails to present a clear and compelling explanation, he ought to resign.”
Referring to the Paradise Papers and his newly disclosed financial ties to Putin’s associates, Ross stated, “The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company does not mean that there’s any evil in it.”
“The journalists do not allege, nor could they, that Appleby has done anything unlawful. There is no wrongdoing. It is a patchwork quilt of unrelated allegations with a clear political agenda and movement against offshore,” Appleby said in a recent statement. “We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act. This was an illegal computer hack.”
Last year, the president of the Chilean chapter of Transparency International and the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan resigned following the Panama Papers leak. Other prominent figures named in the Panama Papers included the father of former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, several friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the family of Chinese President Xi Jinping, cousins of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the family of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the King of Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
On Monday, Sanders took to Twitter and wrote, “Before Congress considers a tax bill it must investigate the Paradise Papers. We must end the rapid movement toward international oligarchy.”