In the wake of a massive leak of documents exposing the secrets of offshore investors, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an “international oligarchy” controlled by a tiny number of billionaires.
“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,” Sanders told the Guardian about the revelations in the leaked Paradise Papers.
“The Paradise Papers show how these billionaires and multi-national corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” he added.
The more than 13 million records and 1.4 terabytes of data from more than 380 journalists and 96 media partners in 67 countries show more than 120 politicians, heads of state and businesses around the world with connections to secretive offshore tax havens.
According to the Paradise Papers, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross maintained shared business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, retaining a stake in a company that provides shipping for Putin’s son-in-law.
“When you start doing business with Russian energy companies like Gazprom and Sibur, you’re not just getting into bed with the company. You’re getting into bed with the Russian state,” said Amos Hochstein, the former State Department energy policy coordinator, referring to Ross’ other business ties.
The millions of leaked documents also revealed that several top Trump officials used offshore entities to keep their companies or their own personal finances in tax havens, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
The Hill added:
A consortium of news organizations, including the Guardian and German newspaper Süddeutsche, first reported on the leaked documents.
Sanders, who spent much of his 2016 presidential campaign speaking out about inequality in wealth distribution, was not the first lawmaker to react to the leaked documents.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called for an investigation into Ross, saying the Commerce secretary misled Congress about his financial dealings with Russia.