When It Comes to Money-Laundering, the U.S. Is Part of the Problem

When It Comes to Money-Laundering, the U.S. Is Part of the Problem
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, right, speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens, during an event at the Treasury Department in Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

On Oct. 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released 11.9 million confidential files, known as the Pandora Papers, that documented how world leaders, oligarchs and business elites park their wealth in offshore jurisdictions. Like the Panama Papers of 2016, this new leak brought shell companies and offshore jurisdictions under intense public scrutiny for their role in helping the rich and powerful evade taxes and ignore the transparency requirements by which their fellow citizens and competitors must abide.

What was perhaps most damning was the inclusion of five U.S. states—South Dakota, Florida, Delaware, Texas and Nevada—among the list of favored offshore jurisdictions. In these places, vast fortunes are sheltered in the United States under a blanket of secrecy, even as U.S. politicians regularly chastise Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and others for their lack of transparency. 

Months before the Pandora Papers’ release, the United States, led by President Joe Biden, took steps toward recognizing its role in international corruption. In June, Biden officially established combating corruption as a “core national security interest,” directing the National Security Council to conduct an interagency review and promulgate an all-of-government anti-corruption strategy. The directive included a historic recognition of the United States’ transparency gaps and responsibility to address them. But it, too, still presents offshoring as mainly a foreign problem. To the contrary, it is also an urgent domestic matter.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review