To borrow a sentence from the film “Casablanca”, we are shocked – SHOCKED! – to learn that rich, powerful and corrupt people are hiding billions of dollars in bank accounts and secret assets around the world.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released its Pandora Papers report over the weekend. This is a detailed analysis of leaked corporate documents showing how hundreds of world leaders, billionaires, celebrities and drug traffickers – and even some religious leaders – hide their mountains of money to avoid crime. taxes and cover up their illegal activities. Third world politicians who plundered the treasures of their nations, taking money that could be used for hospitals, schools and infrastructure for personal gain. The drug lords hide their profits.
It is not a surprise. The concept of the rich and corrupt hiding assets in offshore accounts or secret Swiss banks is almost a cliché in crime and spy thrillers. What the Pandora Papers investigation has done is put names and faces to the money grabbers and shed light on exactly how it’s done.
What may be most shocking about the report is that South Dakota has joined Geneva, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands as a destination to hide money. The investigation found 81 trust accounts set up in that state to hide capital.
What is important about this report is that it takes the practice out of the realm of fiction. It is real, and there should be regulations to prevent it. We hope that this report will create pressure for reform.