Donald Trump claimed that he would “drain the swamp” but it seems that this has not been the case. One of the most alarming examples of this has been seeing the amount of Trump’s advisors who have appeared in the Paradise Papers. For those unaware, the Paradise Papers is “the latest in a series of global journalistic exposés of the offshore financial industry” mostly being spearheaded by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The idea is that many well-off people will hide money in offshore accounts, and not pay taxes on it. Now it is important to mention that people do use these accounts legitimately, but if you were to want to hide your money from the government, these accounts are how you’d do it. These accounts provide a high level of anonymity, which some people take advantage of, and the only way to know if everything is being handled legally is for investigations like those the ICIJ is doing.
So, who has appeared in the Panama Papers? I’ll be using this tool by the ICIJ to write about the following people, but I strongly recommend looking at their interactive tool to get the full picture, and see who I didn’t have time to look into.
Of the people currently in the Trump administration, one of the most notable to appear is Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce. Once appointed Ross divested most of his assets, but held on to a company Navigator Holdings. One of Navigator Holdings biggest customers? A Russian company called Sibur, with close ties to Putin, and is partially owned by Putin’s son-in-law. That is right, the US Secretary of Commerce is making money from a company being paid by Putin’s son-in-law’s company. Navigator Holdings also has ties to a Venezuelan Government run company, which has ties to “corruption and undermining of democracy” in Venezuela. Keep in mind Ross is in charge of handling sanctions.
Another prominent figure is Gary Cohn, chief economic advisor, and Director of the National Economic Council. Cohn, who used to work for Goldman Sachs, appeared as “president of 20 Bermuda incorporated companies … affiliated with Goldman Sachs”.
Another high-level official is Randal Quarles, who is “vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve” and so he essentially acts as a “watchdog over the US banking industry.” Quarles was seen to be an “officer of two tax-exempt entities.” It is also worth noting that in 2013 Quarles was pronounced to be under investigation for tax-evasion by the USDJ.
Now I should reiterate that their are legitimate reasons to have one of these accounts. Also I don’t want to say that it is only Republicans who use them. You can read here about Democratic nominee for Governor of Illinois JB Pritzker, and his use of them. What I want to point out is the widespread use of these offshore accounts. For example, it is thought that 11.5% of ALL the world's wealth lies sitting in these accounts. And with that, maybe we shouldn't put the people who use this shady system, like Wilbur Ross, Gary Cohn, and Randal Quarles, in charge of regulating these kinds of practices.