The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Worldwide outrage:

how the Panama Papers exposed the rich and powerful

Greed. Corruption. Power.

These adjectives go hand-in-hand, and this belief has only been strengthened through the leak of 2TB worth of documents known as the Panama Papers.

These documents, which are currently being analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), have already linked international politicians, business leaders, and celebrities to offshore bank accounts in an attempt to hide their wealth and evade taxes.

These 11 million documents raise questions regarding the global financial system and what governments intend to do about corruption and transparency.

Many politicians and business leaders have either denied or stepped down based off of these allegations.

These figures include the Prime Minister of Iceland, the president of Transparency Chile, relatives of the Chinese president and members of the Communist Party, according to the New York Times.

While these documents are only linked to a single Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, there exists a trove of similar offshore firms all around the world.

There’s a popular misconception, however, that anyone who creates these offshore accounts and shell companies is committing a crime in an attempt to hide their wealth and avoid paying taxes.

These firms provide services that are completely legal.

In fact, there are places within the United States that have loose regulations and low taxes such as Delaware, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The problem lies within those who wish to use these services to escape the IRS and other tax-collecting agencies.

One possible solution to reform includes a bill pending in Congress called the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act.

The goal is to mandate those wishing to open offshore accounts and establish shell companies to provide information and data on beneficial ownership.

This information should be made public to those who wish to access it.

Advocating for transparency and requiring identifying data will allow for less speculation on the global financial system.

It will also lower the chances of the attempts made in hiding wealth and provide solutions for corruption, especially for those who hold public office.

While this bill is only pending in the United States, I believe that it should extend internationally so that full transparency will be made possible.

The Panama Papers teaches us that the perceived public image of political figures, business leaders and celebrities around the world may not appear as they seem.

To stop the 1 percent from getting richer and to stop the powerful from being tyrannical, we must start the tightening of regulations both on a national and international scale.

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