Environmentalists Against War
Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are

 

 

Calls for Paradise Papers Investigation Before Considering GOP Tax Bill


November 8, 2017
Andrew Emett / NationofChange & Bernie Sanders / US Senate & Ed Pilkington and David Smith / The Guardian

In response to the Paradise Papers leak disclosing millions of 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 US citizens, residents, and companies, Sanders also urged Americans to "end the rapid movement toward international oligarchy."

https://www.nationofchange.org/2017/11/07/bernie-calls-paradise-papers-investigation-considering-gop-tax-bill/

Bernie Calls for Paradise Papers Investigation
Before Considering GOP Tax Bill

Andrew Emett / NationofChange

"Before Congress considers a tax bill
it must investigate the Paradise Papers.
We must end the rapid movement
toward international oligarchy."

-- US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)




WASHINGTON (November 7, 2017) -- 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 US 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, US 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 US 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 UK 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."



Sanders Statement on GOP Tax Plan
Bernie Sanders / US Senate

WASHINGTON (November 2, 2017) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Thursday after House Republicans released tax reform legislation:

"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."



Bernie Sanders Warns of
'International Oligarchy' after Paradise Papers Leak

Ed Pilkington and David Smith / The Guardian

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (November 5, 2017) -- Bernie Sanders has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an "international oligarchy" controlled by a tiny number of billionaires, highlighted by the revelations in the Paradise Papers.

In a statement to the Guardian in the wake of the massive leak of documents exposing the secrets of offshore investors, Sanders said that the enrichment of wealthy individuals and companies in tax havens was "the major issue of our time".

He said the Paradise Papers opened the door on a "major problem not just for the US but for governments throughout the world".

"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 shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes," the US senator from Vermont said.

Sanders, who came in a close second to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, pointed the finger of blame for the flourishing of offshore holdings on both Congress and the Trump administration. He told the Guardian that Republicans in Congress were responsible for providing "even more tax breaks to profitable corporations like Apple and Nike".

The same tax breaks, he said, were being seized upon by super-wealthy members of Trump's cabinet "who avoid billions in US taxes by shifting American jobs and profits to offshore tax havens. We need to close these loopholes and demand a fair and progressive tax system."

Sanders' intervention in the debate sparked by the Paradise Papers marks the most prominent political response to the leak in their opening 24 hours. The investigation stems from the leak of some 13 million files obtained by Suddeutsche Zeitung in Germany and shared with almost 100 news organisations around the world including the Guardian by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

One of the most pointed disclosures in the Paradise Papers was that Wilbur Ross, Trump's commerce secretary, has continued to do business with the son-in-law of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as well as a member of Putin's inner circle who is under US sanctions. Ross, himself a billionaire, has retained since joining the Trump administration his investment in a shipping company, Navigator, that has a partnership with the Russian gas giant Sibur.

In turn, Sibur is part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin's daughter.

The emergence of Ross's ongoing ties to business interests so close to the Russian president at a time of intense scrutiny of the relationship between the Trump administration and the Kremlin has incensed prominent Democrats involved in Ross's confirmation to office.

Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who sits on the US Senate commerce committee, accused Ross of deceiving the public as well as lawmakers who had allowed the confirmation to go through having heard Ross promise to divest himself of any interests that carried potential conflict.

"If he fails to present a clear and compelling explanation, he ought to resign," Blumenthal told MSNBC in an interview.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said: "In February, I opposed Mr. Ross' nomination because there were a number of unanswered questions about his ownership stake in the Bank of Cyprus and his connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as his refusal to divest from a $1 billion co-investment made with the state-owned Chinese Investment Corporation.

"Despite assurances from the Commerce Department and the White House on the eve of his nomination, these questions remain unanswered over eight months later. These unanswered questions and recent revelations certainly warrant a Commerce Committee hearing and I think an Inspector General investigation is in order. We should get to the bottom of this."

On Monday, Ross denied that he had done anything wrong in his handling of his investment in Navigator. In the course of a visit to London, he told UK media that "there is nothing wrong with it. The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company doesn't mean there is any evil in it."

Further responses to the Paradise Papers came from the Democratic leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer, and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden. In a joint statement they accused Republicans in Congress leading the push towards a reform of the tax code of failing to close egregious loopholes revealed by the leaks.

As a result Republicans were rewarding, the duo said, "wealthy billionaires like secretary Wilbur Ross for dodging taxes, while punishing many in the middle class with new tax hikes. If you deduct medical expenses or student loan interest from your taxable income, the Republican plan comes after your wallet. But if you stash your billions in secret bank accounts overseas, their plan gives you the green light to keep doing what you've been doing."

They added that the Paradise Papers were "proof positive that the Republican tax plan favours the wealthy and betrays the middle class in this country, who are the ones left carrying the financial burden of massive corporate tax avoidance".

More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven't put up a paywall -- we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

Live updates: Billionaires and Firms Exposed by Paradise Papers

Here's a round of the key reactions so far to the first revelations in Paradise Papers:
* US Senator Bernie Sanders has attacked the billionaires and corporations exposed by the Paradise Papers. He said they showed how they "get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes".

* Theresa May has refused to commit to a public register of the ownership of offshore companies and trusts. Responding to a question from the Guardian about the revelations, May said progress had already been made. She added: "We want people to pay the tax that's due."

* Mel Stride, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said there were many "legitimate reasons" for using offshore trusts. After being asked an urgent question by Labour on the Paradise Papers he accused the opposition of creating an inaccurate picture of all people using such trusts as being "eye-wateringly rich" or tax dodgers.

* The European Commission has called for swift action on tax evasion including a blacklist on tax havens. Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner responsible for tax, said he was outraged but not surprised by the revelations.

* Green MEP Eva Joly, the deputy president of a European parliamentary inquiry on the Panama Papers, has demanded the UK be denied access to the European single market as part of the Brexit negotiations until it tackles tax havens. She said: "The EU must be firm in the Brexit negotiations: no access to the European single market for the UK if it continues to act as a tax haven on our doorstep."

* Donald Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has denied misleading Congress, after the papers exposed details of his interests in a company doing business with a Russian firm controlled by members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle. He claimed the papers revealed nothing improper.

* Jeremy Corbyn has said the Queen's tax affairs should be subject to the public inquiry his party has called for into tax avoidance. His office was earlier forced to clarify a statement from the Labour leader after he appeared to suggest the Queen should apologise after the papers revealed that part of her wealth was invested offshore. His spokesman said: "Jeremy did not call for the Queen to apologise, but said anyone who puts money into a tax haven to avoid paying tax should."

* Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, has called on the Queen to be honest with the public over her financial affairs. Margaret Hodge, former chair of the public accounts committee, said the Queen's advisors had sullied the reputation of the monarchy.

* More than 700 prominent Indians have appeared in the Paradise Papers including several members of the main opposition Congress and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Jayanta Sinha, India's minister of state for aviation, is the highest ranking politician to appear. He denied the activity disclosed had been conducted for personal gain.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

back

 

 

Stay Connected
Sign up to receive our weekly updates. We promise not to sell, trade or give away your email address.
Email Address:
Full Name:
 

 

Search Environmentalists Against War website

 

Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are