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The Pandora Papers and What It Means for the Average American

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The Pandora Papers is the largest and most recent collection of data in the business
practice of offshoring money. The papers sport 12 million documents highlighting the shady
tactics that the richest and most influential people in the world use to safeguard their own power.

While in theory, this practice of utilizing tax havens is legal for businesses to grow investment
potential, the strategy has been used to cover up criminal activity and shield from domestic
taxes. Tax havens are countries, states, or jurisdictions that have different tax laws that allow for
individuals to evade taxes in their own countries. Tax evaders may also use shell companies or
overseas assets to shield this money from being taken in their homeland. 600 investigative
journalists have been sifting through the papers finding worldwide corruption. In these
documents, trillions of dollars have been uncovered in supposed duplicity. 35 world leaders and
300 public officials taking part in international financial deceit have been revealed as
masterminds in the process, and more are predicted to come to light with more digging. The
long history of business corruption dealing with the most important lawmakers, political advisors,
financial heads, and world leaders has led to this moment of reckoning.

However, this is not the first instance of a data breach exposing individuals and
companies to secret behaviors in the financial sector. The Panama Papers first came out in
2016 with 2.6 terabytes of data on offshoring, a record-breaking number until Pandora’s
impressive 2.94 terabytes of data surfaced. International leaders were found to be hiding money
through shell companies and separate accounts overseas. Changes in political reign and
leadership were fast to begin after the release of these documents. Iceland’s Prime Minister,
Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned, followed by many other falls from power in countries
like Mongolia and Spain. The Prime Minister from Pakistan, who was the longest-running PM in
history, Nawaz Sharif, was forcibly removed from his position by the Supreme Court and faced
criminal charges of corruption with punishments such as millions in fines and prison time.
International legislation also followed the revelations of these papers. New Zealand was one of
the first to update its antitrust laws. The US also spearheaded the issue by creating the
Corporate Transparency Act, which was the largest anti-money laundering platform since the
creation of the Patriot Act following international affairs in 9/11.

Another historical example includes the Paradise Papers. These sensitive documents
were published in the following year in 2017, also highlighting influential officials conducting
suspicious business in 1.4 terabytes of data. Political powerhouses were exposed in these
documents such as the former US president. Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur
Ross, was found to have received tens of millions of dollars linked to a Russian energy
company that funded his personal shipping company that has made him a billionaire. This only
built a case against Trump on the accusations of his involvement with the Russians in other data
breaches.

The latest Pandora Papers have not found any less data than the previous data
breaches, wreaking havoc on the worldwide political system in exposing formerly trusted head
officials. The ruler of Jordan, King Abdullah II, was found to be owning $100 million in property
acquisition overseas in Malibu, Washington, and London. His citizens were unaware of these
riches abroad and unable to reap the benefits of this abundance of financial resources. While
the king denied criminal action in the purchase of these complexes and lavish homes, he also
took action to hide these revelations. The official investigative journalism website was found to be blocked in Jordan days before the papers were released to the public. Upsets in international
campaigns have also occurred in countries such as the Czech Republic where Prime Minister
Andrej Babis is running for reelection. However, his name was revealed on the papers, linked to
acquiring a chateau with the worth of $22 million in France through offshore investing. He has
refused to answer any questions. The most well-known politician in the chaotic mix is Vladimir
Putin. Putin’s alleged former girlfriend was revealed to have previously owned shell companies
in Monte Carlo around the time they were believed to be together. Political parties have
even been uncovered to have certain roles in this scandal. Many major donors in the
conservative party worldwide have been discovered as players in these illegal actions. These
admissions are predicted to hold weight in future political endeavors for the countries
emphasized in these papers and their government officials in charge of business and
commerce.

Now, how does the US fall into the consequences of this data breach? No US politicians
or leaders have directly been linked to the accusations. This could be due to the fact that wealth
service providers were not located domestically. However, 700 companies in the Pandora
Papers have ties to US business heads. The largest revelation for the US was that states like
Alaska, South Dakota, Nevada, and Delaware are working for global clients as offshore tax havens. Sioux Falls, South Dakota is now known as the domestic home of fraud. Lawyers
lobbied in this area for more liberal tax laws in order to create a tax-free paradise. They picked
here due to the lack of wealth in states like South Dakota, promising more jobs and commerce if
they took on this financial burden. Due to governmental desperation for funds, this town ceded
to the wishes of those seeking tax haven. One company in the middle of downtown Sioux Falls has
acquired $100 billion in international assets that are believed to serve many companies accused
of fraud, money laundering, and crimes that include mistreatment of workers. Central Romana,
a sugar cane producing company is one of these international companies that reside in Sioux
Falls. They are speculated to be hiding money here due to accusations and lawsuits of human
rights abuses of the workers in the company. The involvement of midwestern America in
widespread crime and conspiracy has been the most alarming of the findings for American
citizens in the Pandora Papers.

American international aid was also involved in the shocking findings of the papers.
Looking back to Jordan with King Abdullah and his abundant property purchases, the US was
obviously not aware of this when providing the country with aid to just keep their citizens afloat
and meeting their basic needs of high-quality life. The US was using its own money to take
care of international citizens while the ruler of that country was sending his own secret funds,
unbeknownst to citizens, overseas for his own socio-economic gain. This oversight and
conspiracy may result in President Biden’s legislation being passed on rebuilding the IRS. This
would allow for more effective monitoring of tax affairs, both domestically and internationally.

While this affects the entire world stage of economic and political power, many
Americans may be wondering where these findings come into play in their own life and cause
important change. Yet, these revelations are affecting every American citizen. In the most basic
sense, everyone else is losing so that the few most wealthy and powerful individuals can gain.
American financial aid being circulated to countries, states, and jurisdictions that are active in
financial deception takes away domestic benefit from these resources. These domestic
advantages include healthcare benefits, promotion of public education, and social programs that could reallocate funds to those living in poverty in the US and the struggling middle class after
the financial effects of COVID-19 instead of billionaire business and political heads. These
practices also allow for our domestic money supply to fund organizations that do not support
equal human rights for international and US-based blue-collar workers. This could in turn
promote companies that allow these working conditions, putting our entire industrial sector in
danger of corruption. The desperate need for money and business in states like South Dakota
also proves that our employment and midwestern, suburban commerce relations need
to be reconfigured for the benefit of the citizens instead of the benefit of the billion-dollar company.
The secrecy in business affairs also makes it hard for the average American consumer to have
loyalty to any brand. Faulty consumerism and distrust in big business are a large result of these
conspiracies. However, the unearthing of this scandal may also show an upturn in average
American trust in media and journalism, which has been exceedingly low in the midst of “fake
news” headlines. The positive light of returning information from the clutches of deception to the
public in the Pandora Papers will most likely raise the public opinion of news sources.
Additionally, the domestic conservative party may witness a McCarthy-esque witch hunt based
on the international findings of corruption in the party. This could turn tides in political power
domestically and enact a surge of bipartisan fighting on business affairs in our own government,
locally, stately, and nationally.

While offshoring does not serve the average American, it still affects us wholly in the
financial, social, and political sectors. The Pandora Papers are a tool used to uncover the dirt in
international power. The average American is a reflection of what this dirt covers in the first
place. The release of these documents will prove to be successful in first improving international
politics, creating a ripple effect that the US will follow to rid our business industry of worldwide
corruption.

Resources:
Collins, C. (2021, October 6). The pandora papers reveal how the Super-rich shaft the rest of
Us. The Nation. Retrieved October 7, 2021, from
https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/tax-offshore-corporations/.
Freedberg, S. P., Politzer, M., Woodman, S., Alecci, S., McGoey, S., Icij, & Fitzgibbon, W. (2021,
October 6). Pandora papers. ICIJ. Retrieved October 7, 2021, from
https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/.
Guardian News and Media. (2021, October 3). Pandora papers: Biggest ever leak of offshore
data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful. The Guardian. Retrieved October 7,
2021, from
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/03/pandora-papers-biggest-ever-leak-of-off
shore-data-exposes-financial-secrets-of-rich-and-powerful.
Hudson, W. F. and M., Fitzgibbon, W., Hudson, M., (2021, April 8). Five years later, Panama
Papers still having a big impact. ICIJ. Retrieved October 7, 2021, from
https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/five-years-later-panama-papers-still-h
aving-a-big-impact/.
ICIJ, Harrington, B., Addock, C., Images, I. G., Shimbun, Alhassan, A., Fitzgibbon, W., Hudson,
M., Guevara, M. W., Alecci, S., Sia, P., Ryle, G., Díaz-Struck, E., Bowers, S.,
Boland-Rudder, H., Chavkin, S.,Chittum,(2021, February 8). Paradise papers exposes
Donald Trump-Russia links and piggy banks of the wealthiest 1 percent. ICIJ. Retrieved

October 7, 2021, from
https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/paradise-papers-exposes-donald-tru
mp-russia-links-and-piggy-banks-of-the-wealthiest-1-percent/.

I am a freshman at Michigan State University. I am majoring in Journalism and Political Science. I hope to work as a political analyst or speech writer for politicians in the future. My passion is politics and being an advocate for women's rights. I also love to speak out about mental and women's health. I also love creative writing such as poetry and stand-up comedy.
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