Why America's Richest Billionaires Aren't on the Pandora Paper

The leak of 11.9 million financial records is causing a stir when it reveals the names of dozens of world leaders. However, America's richest billionaires, such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, do not appear on the list.

From left, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.
From left, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.

According to the Daily Mail, the leak of 11.9 million financial-related records is shaking the world when it reveals the secret assets of dozens of retired or incumbent world leaders, billionaires, celebrities.

However, America's richest billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are not included in this leak called the Pandora File. Former President Donald Trump is mentioned in connection with a hotel project in Panama, but the Pandora Files do not appear to reveal any significant new information about his account.

Financial experts say that the absence of many of America's richest billionaires may be due to a tax policy that is too generous for them at home. Some other experts speculate that the super-rich in the US could use various "tax havens," such as the Cayman Islands, which are not mentioned in the filings.

Specifically, the Pandora Profile lists 130 billionaires believed to be owners of the accounts but does not include any of America's wealthiest individuals. Financial analysts speculate the wealthy in the US - like Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk and Bill Gates - have less incentive to use overseas tax havens due to tax rates at home. countries they pay low.

Some of the dozens of famous people named in the Pandora Records. Photo: Reuters
Some of the dozens of famous people named in the Pandora Records. Photo: Reuters

According to a Forbes report published in June, the 25 richest Americans paid a 'real tax rate' of just 3.4% while their wealth grew by $401 billion from 2014 to 2018.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is said to have paid a real tax rate of just 0.98%, while investor Buffet and tech billionaire Elon Musk pay a tax rate of 0.1% and 3.27%, respectively.

In 2018, Bill Gates even admitted that he needed to pay more taxes. The "software king" told CNN at the time: "I need to pay higher taxes… I paid more taxes, more than $10 billion, but the government should require rich people like me to pay high taxes. significantly more”.

In addition, experts analyzing the Pandora Records suggest that wealthy American figures may have used other companies or offshore accounts in different jurisdictions to conceal their funds. The Pandora file includes only leaked documents from 14 financial services institutions operating in Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands.

Why America's Richest Billionaires Aren't on the Pandora Records

"Tax paradise" right in the US

But if Americans are absent from the list of characters named in the Pandora Records, then the United States itself is involved.

Documents from the Pandora Files, the International Organization of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Washington Post have identified nearly 30 US-based trusts linked to foreigners, whose companies accused of misconduct and human rights violations. All are headquartered in Sioux Fall, South Dakota.

In particular, the state of South Dakota has become a new hub for opaque financial transactions, on par with the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland. Trusts in the state have quadrupled in 10 years to $360 billion thanks to laws that protect assets from any civil action like divorce.

Edward Snowden, author of the infamous 2013 National Security Agency (NSA) leak, mocked the Pandora Papers, arguing that the offshore financial industry continues to operate despite “two apocalyptic leaks,” known as the 2016 Panama Papers.

“The funny side of this very serious story is that, even after two apocalyptic leaks of offshore law/finance firms, the industry is still amassing huge databases of of destruction and labeled them 'leak-prohibited'," Snowden posted on Twitter.

The state of South Dakota has joined familiar offshore tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize, with the size of trusts quadrupling in 10 years to $360 billion. . The Pandora filings have revealed how one of the largest trust companies in the state confirmed that it has clients spanning 54 countries, including more than 100 billionaires.

One of the reasons South Dakota has become a "tax haven" is that the state's politicians have passed laws that provide greater protection and benefit to the clients of such trusts. .

Meanwhile, Washington has continued to refuse to join a 2014 agreement, backed by the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, that requires American financial institutions to share the information they have about foreign assets. outside.

The Washington Post states: “South Dakota is now a competitor to jurisdictions that are notoriously dubious in Europe and the Caribbean over financial secrecy.”

Dollar

South Dakota state law provides both the protection and confidentiality of money accounts deposited within the United States. Normally, the government will tax any interest earned on the account, but in South Dakota, assets are protected from any civil claims such as divorce or legal action. They are just not protected from criminal investigations.

On October 3, the ICIJ released the Pandora File, revealing how the rich hide their money in offshore properties. The Pandora files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts – double the number in the 2016 Panama Papers, which involved officials in 91 countries and territories.

The report shows that world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have hidden investments in mansions, How have exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other properties been over the past quarter century. According to the report, many of the accounts were set up to evade taxes and hide assets for other suspicious reasons.

Experts say the Pandora Records leak will raise concern because financial concealment can affect citizens for generations by contributing to the exacerbation of wealth disparities and crime, such as trafficking. drug sales, ransomware attacks, arms trafficking...

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