When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addressed the Senate floor in 2011 saying that ‘Panama was a world leader when it comes to allowing large corporations and wealthy Americans to stash their money in offshore tax havens’, his words today seem curiously prophetic.
Addressing the Senate in 2011, Sanders had said,”Panama Free Trade Agreement would make the situation worse.” And this is what is giving the Sanders’ campaign enough ammunition against his party rival and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who voted in support of the free trade deal.
The Panama Papers leak, investigated and released in India exclusively by The Indian Express along with ICIJ, lists names right from Amitabh Bachchan to Nawaz Sharif to Vladimir Putin, several celebrities, world leaders and names from the world of sport.
Around 2.6 TB of data or over 11.5 million leaked documents have shed light on prominent names such as the prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Gunllaugson, who resigned on Tuesday in the face of huge protests in Iceland after it was revealed that he used a shell company to shelter large sums of money while his country’s economy suffered.
In an apparent dig at Clinton, the Sanders campaign wrote on their Facebook page on Wednesday criticising her for taking a U-turn on the issue: “My opponent, on the other hand, opposed this trade agreement when she was running against Barack Obama for president in 2008. But when it really mattered she quickly reversed course and helped push the Panama Free Trade Agreement through Congress as Secretary of State. The results have been a disaster.”
After the revelations were made public three day ago, Sanders told his supporters in Wyoming on Tuesday that even back in 2011 he was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement.
“I was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement from day one. I predicted that the passage of this disastrous trade deal would make it easier, not harder, for the wealthy and large corporations to evade taxes by sheltering billions of dollars offshore. I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared,” Sanders said in an official statement.