In Works and Days (ca. 700 BC), Hesiod wrote about the Greek mythology of Pandora, whose curiosity was so great that she opened a “box,” actually a large storage jar, left in the care of her husband, Epimetheus. Out came curses such as sickness and death. The message from the story is that opening a Pandora’s box will create many unforeseen problems. Thus the name for this last Sunday’s revelations called “Pandora’s Papers.”
Based on nearly 12 million documents, almost 3 terabytes of data from five continents, the report on hidden financial dealings of the elite and corrupt using offshore accounts to conceal trillions of dollars was prepared by over 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. They searched files from over 29,000 offshore accounts held by over 130 Forbes-identified billionaires and 330 current and former politicians in 14 offshore service providers around the world. Involved were 35 world leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso; others are associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak, and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman. Prominent athletes, models, and artists including India’s famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, pop music star Shakira, and supermodel Claudia Schiffer also hide their assets in these offshore accounts reported in the Pandora Papers.
A major location in the U.S., South Dakota, “rivals Switzerland, Panama, the Cayman Islands, and other famous tax havens as a premier venue for the international rich seeking to protect their assets from local taxes or the authorities.” The state’s low taxes and highly generous trust laws lead the world’s billionaires to that location, according to Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions. For example, Horst Happel, fined $88 million in 2016 for underpaying workers at his Brazilian orange juice company, moved many of his assets to South Dakota the next year. The state also became the location for trusts moved from the Bahamas and set up by Carlos Morales Troncoso, former vice president of the Dominican Republican and accused of human rights violations at his sugar company, Central Romana. Through these trusts, wealth can be hidden for generations and even centuries.‘Pandora Papers’ Expose the Elite, South Dakota | Nel’s New Day