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From Draft NOtices, July-September 2016

Panama Papers and the Military-Industrial Complex

—Amanda Jordan-Starks

The Panama Papers followed in the footsteps of Wikileaks, Snowden and others to promote economic and political transparency in an increasingly militarized society. The massive data leak of 11.5 million documents from Panamanian-based law firm Mossack Fonseca covered a period of almost 40 years. The greatest controversy includes evidence that many companies and individuals around the world use 320,000 offshore accounts for suspected money laundering, arms and drug deals, and tax avoidance.

The Panama Papers enabled investigative reporters to “follow the money” with billionaire George Soros, who was revealed as having holdings in the Carlyle Group under a mostly secretive financial entity called the Quantum Group of Funds (QGF). The irony is that Soros is a premier donor of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, one of the principle groups leaking the Panama Papers. Carlyle has had deep ties to the military-industrial complex for decades, through weapons contracts and high-level security services. It has greatly profited from the War on Terrorism, and even the Saudi family of Osama bin Laden had holdings in the Carlyle Group for a time. Soros invests in many non-profits involved in regime change operations from Ukraine to Syria.

Soros is among the many wealthy people who use tax havens to avoid paying their due. In an economic system where such a large percentage of the U.S. budget goes toward the military, basic necessities like education are denied those desperately needed funds. According to a recent report by Oxfam, “Broken at the Top,” corporations pay less and less taxes in the United States: “In 1952, corporate income taxes funded about 32 percent of the federal government. That shrank to 10.6 percent by 2015.” The authors also suggest that keeping profits offshore costs the U.S. government $111 billion each year in lost revenue. While tax havens are also increasingly found on U.S. soil, it’s conclusive that these tax evasion strategies have allowed corporations -- including the many contracted with the U.S. military -- to pay an average effective tax rate of 26.5 percent, compared to the 31.5 percent the average U.S. worker pays.

Our broken educational system is in desperate need of reform. Military recruiters easily prey on students in low-income neighborhoods, where schools are denied the funds they need to effectively educate students and equip them with opportunities after high school. The fact that we operate in a system where the wealthy can avoid paying taxes needed to fund things like education illustrates the need to increase accountability for offshore accounts, and perhaps question why it’s made so entirely legal in the first place.

Information sources:

“Broken at the Top,” April 14, 2016,

“Panama Papers Reveal Soros Had Offshore Business Investing in Arms Manufacturing,”

“Tax evasion probes underway after Panama Papers leak,”

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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