How about we make sure rich people pay taxes huh?

The Pandora Papers uncover key vulnerabilities in today’s financial world


Vae O’Neil, Arts and Entertainment Editor

We’d all like to believe that the powerful folk and celebrities we admire play by the rules and pay their fair share of taxes and whatnot – I mean, we know Bezos and others don’t, but we’re talking about the rich people that are admired; celebrities like Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr. Unfortunately, this is just a fool’s hope; these three were among countless other celebrities, politicians and other people of power that were exposed for creating offshore companies and trusts, often used for secrecy or tax evasion, in the recently released Pandora Papers.

The Pandora Papers themselves come from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and is the largest leak in the organization’s history; it consists of nearly three terabytes of confidential information from 14 offshore service providers. The project was released Oct. 3, and was a collaboration between more than 600 Journalists from 150 news outlets, and has exposed the offshore dealings of 35 current and former world leaders and hundreds of other past and current public officials and politicians around the world. Most importantly, the Papers offer a glimpse of how many of the world’s rich and/or powerful take advantage of semi-legal offshore service providers, and how they negatively affect ordinary citizens by doing so.

Take Shakira for example again – this isn’t the only time she’d been caught in some dodgy tax behavior; it was ruled in 2018 that from 2012 to 2014, the pop star failed to pay $16.4 million in taxes. From that point on she underwent a tax investigation, during which she had filed applications for three different offshore companies; Shakira and her representatives said that those companies were in the process of being dissolved, even though the applications she used are typically used for the creation of brand-new entities. Nevertheless, $16.4 million is quite the bill to almost get away with ignoring; and in the event that she, or anyone, successfully dodges that much money in taxes, the burden of paying it would be left to the more average citizens, leaving them – us – to bear the price of infrastructure and social services.

Popstars aren’t the only ones doing this; there are politicians and government officials as well. Several leaders of nations all over the world are featured in the Pandora Papers, with names popping up such as Abdullah II, King of Jordan, several former presidents of Panama, two former Chief Executives of Hong Kong, Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and many, many more.

With all of this in mind I propose a revolutionary solution: just, don’t give the rich and powerful the opportunity to hide their wealth and hoard their laurels in the first place, by closing these legal loopholes in tax law, pretty please?

Sarcasm aside, this is not a simple problem to fix; this isn’t an American problem, it’s a global one.

In order to end this, the whole world would have to agree to amend things internationally (I think, for I am not a particularly learned lemur), and that would be a difficult task indeed, seeing that so many leaders are a part of the problem they would be trying to solve.

All of the findings of the ICIJ in the Pandora Papers can be found at