EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
The Pandora Papers—a treasure trove of nearly 12 million leaked financial records from 14 different “offshore” wealth-service firms—expose the various ways billionaires, corporations, drug traffickers and con men secret their money in notorious tax havens such as Belize, the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands and Sioux Falls, S.D.
Yes, Sioux Falls. It turns out that, with states like South Dakota and Delaware leading the way, the United States now rivals the Cayman Islands and European protectorates for those trying to hide money, evade taxes or escape judgments. Trident Trust, for example, located in Sioux Falls, handles some $360 billion in trusts, with clients who have been accused of money laundering, bribery, and even human rights abuses. The trusts protect the clients (mostly foreigners) from taxing authorities, from creditors, from foreign governments and from settlements of those who have been abused.
To win this race to the bottom, South Dakota’s Republican legislature passed whatever laws the corporate lawyers wanted. Nearly 30 years ago, the state effectively abolished the “rule against perpetuities,” essentially giving the wealthy a way to evade taxes generation after generation.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.