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Chairman Cardin on Impact of Pandora Papers

“This unprecedented investigation should further drive the need for transparency and delving deeper into such international transactions.”

WASHINGTON—Following the release of the Pandora Papers, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), author of the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, issued the following statement:

“The Pandora Papers are a wake-up call for anyone who cares about the future of democracy. The sheer scale of questionable financial flows entering the United States from abroad is astonishing and warrants further review. Kleptocrats from dictatorships and struggling democracies have stolen untold sums and potentially have laundered them through our country and those of our allies.

“Such activity poses a direct threat to U.S. national security by hollowing out the rule of law abroad and threatening to do the same at home. It is more important than ever that we increase transparency of such transactions, purge dirty money from our system, and ensure that the United States of America denies kleptocrats safe haven. Our nation must continue to stand with the victims of kleptocracy. This means tackling the problem of the enablers of kleptocracy.”

The Pandora Papers represent the largest investigation ever into the true workings of the offshore economy. They reveal how “the United States, in particular, has become an increasingly attractive destination for hidden wealth.”

These investigations on the hidden wealth of foreign dictators, their associates, and other corrupt officials include documents from 206 U.S. trusts in 15 states and Washington, D.C., and 22 U.S. trustee companies. South Dakota, in particular, was singled out for criticism. Lawyers also have been central to creating the offshore system, which is behind the ability to transfer illicit wealth anonymously and easily. Three hundred politicians and public officials from more than 90 countries and territories are identified in the Pandora Papers.

  • Two members of Putin’s inner circle and individuals listed on the Navalny 35 list of human rights abusers and kleptocrats, Konstantin Ernst and Gennady Timchenko, used offshore companies and enablers to engage in a $230 million sweetheart real estate deal, and received hundreds of millions of dollars in suspicious “loans,” respectively.
  • Azerbaijan’s kleptocratic ruling family, the Aliyevs, used offshore companies and enablers to obtain $700 million worth of real estate in London.
  • Chinese Communist Party politician Feng Qiya used an offshore company and enablers to trade U.S. stocks with $2 million worth of illicit funds.

The Helsinki Commission recently held a public briefing on the enablers of kleptocracy, examining how they put U.S. national security at risk and how they could effectively be regulated.

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