Bernie Sanders warns of 'international oligarchy' after Paradise Papers leak

Pointed finger towards Trump administration for 'providing more tax breaks to Apple, Nike'

News Desk November 07, 2017

US Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders, while speaking to The Guardian, warned that the world is becoming an international oligarchy which is controlled by a tiny number of billionaires. This statement comes in the wake of Paradise Papers leak which exposes the secrets of offshore investors.

Sanders calls the enrichment of wealthy individuals and tax havens "the major issue of our time." He further stated that Paradise Papers opens the door to 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.

Paradise Papers reveal hidden wealth of global elite

Sanders pointed a finger towards US Congress and the Trump administration who he said were "responsible for providing even more tax breaks to profitable corporations like Apple and Nike."

The tax breaks are seized upon by wealthy members of Trump's cabinet who "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", he said further.

Sanders statement on the Paradise Papers is one of the most prominent political response to the leaks in the US.

A number of world capitals were shaken by the release of the documents. The leak is global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

Some of the biggest foreign names in the leaks include Queen Elizabeth II of England, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former Nato supreme commander in Europe Gen Wesley Clark, Queen Noor of Jordan, the founders of Microsoft and Ebay, and music legends Madonna and Bono.

The disclosure of Trump's Commerce Secretary in the leaks showed he has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Ross, a billionaire investor, holds a 31 per cent stake in Navigator Holdings through a complex web of offshore investments detailed in leaked documents from a law firm examined by nearly 100 news organisations as part of an international collaboration.

The 79-year-old reduced his stake when he took public office, according to public filings.

Democrat Richard Blumenthal who sits on the US Senate commerce committee accused Ross of deceiving the public and lawmakers who allowed his confirmation as Commerce Secretary to go forward after Ross said he would divest himself of any business 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.”

Trump’s cabinet member amongst those named in Paradise Papers

On Monday, Ross denied that he had done anything wrong when it came to the handling of his investment in Navigator. On a visit to London, he told the UK media “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.”

Other US politicians have also responded to the leaks. Democratic leader in the US Senate Chuck Schumer, and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden released a joint accusing Republicans of pushing towards a reform of the tax code while failing to close loopholes which were revealed by the leaks.


This story originally appeared on The Guardian


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