Five years before the Panama Papers leak, Bernie Sanders warned the world about tax shelters

Politicians around the world are feeling a different kind of Bern as many are being outed for tax evasion after the so-called “Panama Papers” were leaked earlier in the week.

However one official, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is saying “I told you so” since predicting the outcome of a trade agreement that facilitated the tax haven.

In an impassioned speech on the US Senate floor in 2011, Sanders railed against a free-trade deal that would make it a lot more difficult for law enforcement to crack down on tax havens for corporations and individuals in Panama.

“I’m going to say a word about a Panama Free Trade Agreement. Panama is a very small country. Its entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year—or two tenths of one percent of the American economy. No one is going to legitimately stand up here and say that trading with such a small country is going to significantly increase American jobs. Then why would we be considering a trade agreement with Panama? What’s going on there?”

“Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in offshore tax havens. The Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse. I’m a member of the Budget Committee … and we have heard testimony time and time again that our country is losing up to $100 billion every year as corporations stash their money in postal addresses in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and in Panama.”

He continued by saying the deal “would effectively bar the United States from cracking down on illegal and abusive offshore tax havens in Panama.

“In fact, combating tax haven abuse in Panama would be a violation of this free trade agreement, exposing the U.S. to fines from international authorities,” Sanders added.

Watch the video embedded above.

Featured image via screen grab


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