Political Focus: The Paradise Papers

John Bozick, Web Editor

On Nov. 5 a massive leak of 13.4 million electronic documents exposed the financial dealings of many of the world’s wealthiest people. Dubbed The Paradise Papers, the leak has shown the tax loopholes that everyone from the Queen of England to the entire Apple Corporation use to “legally” build their wealth.

The leak of the millions of files has revealed the secretive tax havens of countless businesses, heads of state as well as entertainment and sports stars. The data was originally obtained by the German newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, and has been since shared between the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the British Broadcating Corporation, and The New York Times.

Essentially, what was a revealed shows how many of the global elite avoid paying taxes in their home country by using so-called “tax havens” to store money. One such company that focuses on this is the Bermudan law firm Appleby.

This company helps corporations and wealthy people reduce their tax burdens by helping to set up offshore accounts in places like the Cayman Islands. It is through this that corporations such as Nike have seen their global tax rate plunge from 34.9 percent in 2007 to 13.2 percent last year.

While drawing a decent amount of attention across the pond. In the United States, the revelation has seen little news despite the revelation that many in Trump’s cabinet have been involved in offshore dealings. One of the few people in the U.S. government to even remotely talk about the leak was Vermont Senator, and everyone’s favorite granddad, Bernie Sanders.

Speaking on the matter, Sanders warned of a global oligarchy: “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. The Paradise Papers show how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

The Trump administration was not without its fair share of revelations from the leak as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was found to have ties to a Russian oligarch currently facing sanctions. He was also found to have ties to a shipping company owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law.

While Ross’ did sign an ethics agreement upon taking office that stated he was going to retain ties to several investment partnerships, he did not specify that they were used to keep ties to the shipping company. This instance has led to calls for Ross’s investigation, while Ross himself has said that he will most likely sell his shares in the company.

The Paradise Papers have revealed more secrets than can be named in a short article, yet it has shown how the global elite of the world have continued to undermine the tax laws of their country. While other countries have vowed to crackdown on these loopholes, the response in the U.S. has continued to remain fairly quiet.