News Release Archive - Legal

“Pandora Papers” Experts: U.S. Now a Billionaire Tax Haven

“Pandora Papers” experts, Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions (Polity Books), and tax attorney Bob Lord, are available for comment on the Pandora Papers revelations.

Over the last three months, Collins has briefed members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), on the “wealth hiding” systems in the USA. Articles interviewing Collins are now appearing in the British Guardian, El Pais (Spain) Infobae in Argentina, El Pais (Brasil), Univision (Mexico), and dozens of others.

On Sunday, the ICIJ released “The Pandora Papers,” based on 11.9 million leaked files. It exposes billionaires involved in aggressive wealth hiding and tax avoidance. It reveals, for instance, that “South Dakota now rivals opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy,” notes Collins.

“It is time for U.S. lawmakers to shut down the hidden wealth system that allows for such aggressive tax avoidance and the sequestering of wealth,” said Collins, who just wrote the piece “Why billionaires love to park their wealth in places like South Dakota” for Salon and is co-editor of Inequality.org at the Institute for Policy Studies. He added: “The U.S. has become the weak link in stopping global crime and wealth hiding. States like South Dakota and Delaware have morphed their laws to attract billions, sometimes illicitly obtained, from around the world. We in the U.S. should be embarrassed that we’ve become a magnet for kleptocratic funds.”

Collins’ book, The Wealth Hoarders, points to the role of enablers, what scholars call “the wealth defense industry,” in facilitating the use of dynasty trusts, off-shore tax havens, and anonymous shell companies. These wealth defenders include accountants, tax attorneys, wealth managers, and family office staff, that aid the super-rich in putting vast amounts of wealth beyond the reach of tax authorities. Collins also puts forward a comprehensive plan for shutting down the hidden wealth system.

Bob Lord is a Phoenix tax attorney, associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and legal expert on trusts, estate tax law, and explaining the complicated tax dodges deployed by the superwealthy.

Collins and Lord are available to comment on the latest revelations from the ICIJ Pandora Papers. Email: Contact Olivia Alperstein Olivia@ips-dc.org or Chuck Collins: chuck@ips-dc.org

Additional background resources:

Interview with Chuck Collins by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:

How the world’s richest defend their wealth with help from a dedicated industry.”

By Bob Lord: “Beyond Lucrative: Jeffrey Epstein’s Billionaire Tax Avoidance Business” and “Taxing 7 Billionaires Could Pay For Third of Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Spending Package.”

IPS Policy Brief: “Dynasty Trusts: How the Wealthy Shield Trillions from Taxation Onshore,” by Kalena Thomhave and Chuck Collins.

20 Years Later, 9/11 Cover-ups Continue

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan@earthlink.net@ColeenRowley
A former FBI special agent and division counsel, Rowley famously wrote a May 2002 memo to then FBI Director Robert Mueller exposing some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 conduct. She was then named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year.” She recently appeared on an accuracy.org news release: “9/11 Cover-up: Whistleblower Coleen Rowley.”

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, kdianbreit@aol.com 
One of the “Jersey Girls,” Breitweiser is a lawyer and co-founder of September 11 Advocates. She just wrote the piece “My Husband Died on 9/11. I Am Still Waiting for a Trial of His Killers” for The Intercept. She said today: “For a country that invokes 9/11 so freely to start wars, such use of the 9/11 tagline abruptly halts at the courthouse steps. Not one individual, entity, bank, or business has been fully prosecuted and found criminally responsible as a co-conspirator. That is by systemic prosecutorial choice, for matters of political expediency, cover-up, or in the best-case scenario, sheer embarrassment. Horrifically, some U.S. prosecutors literally sit on the side of the defendants (in this case, Saudi Arabia) and help the key evidence we need stay secret.”

TERRY GREEN, via Katharina Feil, katharina@peacefultomorrows.org@PeacefulTomorro   
Green’s brother Donald was killed at the on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. She is a member of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. The group has recently filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in U.S. v Abu Zubaydah charging that the judiciary is “serving as a gatekeeper to prevent unjustified invocations of the state secrets privilege, which may otherwise suppress information that is not privileged or is merely embarrassing to the government.” Members of the organization have traveled to Afghanistan and to Guantanamo to observe pre-trial hearings of the 9/11 accused. The group is also holding a film festival. Feil is project coordinator for the group and can connect media to various members of the organization.

9/11 Family Members: U.S. Gov Wages War; Covers up; Blocks Justice

Biden executive order demands disclosure of 9/11 files and ...DAVID POTORTI, via Katharina Feil, katharina@peacefultomorrows.org@PeacefulTomorro
Potorti’s brother Jim was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He helped found September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows in the aftermath of the attacks. The group has recently filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in U.S. v Abu Zubaydah charging that the judiciary is “serving as a gatekeeper to prevent unjustified invocations of the state secrets privilege, which may otherwise suppress information that is not privileged or is merely embarrassing to the government.” Members of the group have traveled to Afghanistan and to Guantanamo to observe pre-trial hearings of the 9/11 accused. The group is also holding a film festival. Potorti is co-editor of the recent 9/11 poetry anthology Crossing the Rift and is working with the Forgiveness Project. Feil is project coordinator for the group and can connect media to various members of the group.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, kdianbreit@aol.com
One of the “Jersey Girls,” Breitweiser is a lawyer and co-founder of September 11 Advocates. She just wrote the piece “My Husband Died on 9/11. I Am Still Waiting for a Trial of His Killers” for The Intercept which states: “For a country that invokes 9/11 so freely to start wars … such use of the 9/11 tagline abruptly halts at the courthouse steps. …
“When a person looks at the facts and circumstances of the 9/11 attacks, taken as a whole, it would seem implausible that not one individual, entity, bank, or business has been fully prosecuted and found criminally responsible as a co-conspirator for the crime that took place. I say a crime, because my husband’s death certificate, like every other 9/11 victim’s, lists the manner of his death as ‘homicide,’ not ‘war.’ And yet our nation, a democracy based upon the rule of law, that supposedly protects and entitles all of its citizens with a Constitution and clear Bill of Rights (and certainly the most basic universal human right to live and not be blown up in a building) has not found, and will not ever find, it necessary to hold any co-conspirator of the 9/11 hijackers accountable in a court of criminal law. The typically exceedingly easy-to-meet thresholds for who and what qualifies as a criminal ‘co-conspirator’ and ‘conspiracy’ have never quite been met by the screaming facts and circumstances of 9/11 — and I’d argue that’s by systemic prosecutorial choice to look the other way for matters of political expediency, cover-up, or in the best-case scenario, sheer embarrassment. …

“Horrifically, some U.S. prosecutors literally sit on the side of the defendants (in this case, Saudi Arabia) and help the key evidence we need stay secret.”

Biden’s Pick of Rahm Emanuel: “Disrespect for Black Lives”

File:Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait color (cropped).jpgWith the Senate expected to soon take up the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, opponents are intensifying grassroots efforts to prevent confirmation. Last week — adding to a range of media denunciations since the White House announced the selection of the former Chicago mayor — a columnist for Emanuel’s biggest hometown newspaper lambasted the nomination as a “cynical, ludicrous idea.” Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a statement denouncing the Emanuel pick while two other members of Congress, Cori Bush and Mondaire Jones, released a similar joint statement.

While noting that a national NoToRahm campaign is underway with constituents calling for senators to reject the nomination, the Chicago Tribune column by Rex Huppke quoted the campaign’s coalition: “Emanuel has a long record of being extremely undiplomatic, abrasive and contemptuous of humane values. His record as mayor of Chicago, where his administration oversaw the coverup of the horrific police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is especially troubling.”

Earlier this summer, victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement that said: “During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color. He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.” They added: “Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

A longtime Chicago journalist and political consultant, Delmarie Cobb, told Huppke that “Rahm Emanuel was a disaster for the Black community in Chicago. The remnants of his administration are still very much evident and we’re still living through them. So the idea that someone like him, who was a complete failure as a mayor, would be rewarded with a high-profile ambassadorship or anything in the presidential administration is just unbelievable.”

And Cobb said: “It was Black voters who took Biden over the top. He would not be president if it weren’t for Black voters. So this is an insult to Black voters everywhere, not just in Chicago, to put someone in such a high-profile position whose actions with Laquan McDonald alone should be disqualifying to ever hold a position in anyone’s administration.”

Meanwhile, a Sept. 1 Chicago Tribune news story reported that 28 relatives of Chicago victims of police violence “voiced opposition to an Emanuel appointment to ambassador. Arewa Karen Winters, who said her nephew was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014, noted Biden’s support for George Floyd’s family and police reform. ‘Rahm Emanuel does not deserve to be the ambassador of anything,’ Winters said in a video voicing opposition. ‘As families who have been traumatized by police violence and terror, we are very hurt and we feel betrayed at even the thought of President Biden wanting to appoint Rahm to such a prestigious position.’”

Cobb wrote in an article that Emanuel “closed 50 public schools in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods. He closed six of 12 mental health clinics in these communities. Now, who needs access to mental health care more than Chicago’s Black and brown residents who are underserved, underemployed and under constant threat of violence?”

Cobb is available for interviews and can put journalists in communication with relatives of victims of Chicago police violence during Emanuel’s time as mayor.

DELMARIE COBB, dlcobb@thepublicityworks.net

Abortion: Supreme Court Effectively Deputizing Citizens as “Bounty Hunters”

CBS News reports: “The Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy includes an unusual measure designed to ensure the law is enforced: Residents of the state can sue clinics, doctors, nurses and even people who drive a woman to get the procedure, for at least $10,000.

“That financial incentive was singled out by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent late Wednesday after the Supreme Court declined to block the controversial law. In effect, Texas lawmakers have ‘deputized the state’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures,’ she wrote.”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com@marjoriecohn
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Cohn said today: “Texas Senate Bill 8 bans nearly all abortions in Texas and flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe v. Wade. Nevertheless, in a 5-4 decision, the right-wingers on the Court refused to stop the Texas law from going into effect. John Roberts joined the three liberals in dissent. Although the majority claimed that it was not expressing any opinion on the constitutionality of SB 8, the split indicates that when the high court considers Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law next term, it may well overturn Roe v. Wade.”

In an accuracy.org news release in September 2020, “Packing the Court and Filling the Streets,” Cohn stated: “The Supreme Court now has eight members — three liberals and five conservatives. Until Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Chief Justice John Roberts had been the swing vote. Roberts, concerned with the legacy of the Roberts Court, voted with the liberals to strike down an abortion restriction and uphold the Affordable Care Act. A Trump appointment would substitute a right-wing member for Ginsburg, resulting in a 6-3 conservative majority. They would most likely overrule Roe v. Wade and strike down the Affordable Care Act.

“As it increasingly appears Mitch McConnell has the votes to proceed with filling  Ginsburg’s seat before the election or inauguration, the Democrats must play hard ball. They should pledge that if Joe Biden wins the election and the Democrats assume control of the Senate, they will raise the number of members on the Supreme Court from 9 to 13. The Constitution does not prescribe how many members will sit on the high court so Congress can raise the number.”

Following Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, Cohn wrote the piece “From a Justice for Gender Equality to a ‘Justice’ for Gender Oppression.”

9/11 Cover-up: Whistleblower Coleen Rowley

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan@earthlink.net@ColeenRowley
A former FBI special agent and division counsel, Rowley famously wrote a May 2002 memo to then FBI Director Robert Mueller exposing some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 conduct. She was then named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year.”

She said today: “Already on the day of September 11, 2001, some of us insiders knew some agonizing truth, that the horrible terrorist attacks of that day could have been easily prevented if FBIHQ had just read, shared and acted on the memos addressed to officials there. But I didn’t know the half of it that day, that other agencies like the CIA actually knew much more as their agents had been monitoring the meetings and developments of key Al Qaeda figures for a couple of years prior but were keeping that intelligence secret even from other counter-terrorism agencies. Most importantly the CIA hid the fact from the FBI until it was too late that they knew Al Qaeda terrorists (who would become 9-11 aircraft hijackers and suicide pilots) were already in the country. Along with all the prior info they kept secret, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet had been briefed with a ‘Fundamentalist Learns to Fly’ PowerPoint weeks before the attacks. (He later could not explain why as head of all U.S. national security intelligence, he still took no action.)

“Even worse, instead of coming to grips with this truth that would have enabled speedy solutions to these relatively easy-to-fix administrative problems/flubs that mostly involved lack of information sharing (what the 9-11 Commission termed ‘failure to connect the dots’), massive cover-ups ensued after 9-11. Nearly all U.S. political figures and other officials in Washington would bury the truth, fight accountability and even lie in order to institute their pre-determined agendas, long planned to commence after a ‘new Pearl Harbor’ pretext. So without dissent and no truth, the misbegotten, counter-productive ‘global war on terrorism’ was immediately launched that served as fig leaf for actual, successive wars on Mideastern countries beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq, bloody wars that would take the lives of millions but had no chance of reducing terrorism or spreading democracy, wars that would destabilize the entire region, vastly increase extremist massacres and sprout new terrorist groups like hydras but would fill the coffers of the military industrial complex’s war profiteers.”

Philip Shenon, who was a New York Times reporter for many years and wrote the bestseller The Commission recently stated of Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 commission: “I’d argue he was more influential than several of the 10 commissioners when it came to writing the final report. At the end of the investigation, many staffers felt their most important and controversial conclusions were not reflected in the report’s findings, especially when it came to demanding accountability in the Bush administration for the intelligence failures that led to 9/11. That was also true about the evidence of possible Saudi government ties to the conspiracy. The choice of an executive director — to run the day-to-day investigation — is vital. … Zelikow was close to Condi Rice and had been on the Bush administration’s White House transition team in 2000, with responsibility for national-security issues. That still astonishes me.”

AP reported in June on calls for “a full-blown investigation” of the pandemic crisis “by a national commission like the one that looked into 9/11.” The article notes that a “privately sponsored team” is “already laying the groundwork for one.” Zelikow, now at the University of Virginia, is “leading the planning group.”

Why Won’t Biden — and Others — Admit Israel Has Nuclear Weapons?

America Needs to Start Telling the Truth About Israel’s Nukes” by Peter Beinart in Wednesday’s New York Times states: “American politicians sometimes say an Iranian bomb would pose an ‘existential’ threat to Israel. That’s a dubious claim, given that Israel possesses a nuclear deterrent it can deploy on air, land and sea. But many Americans find the claim plausible because, according to recent polling conducted by Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland, barely 50 percent know Israel has nuclear weapons. A higher percentage thinks Tehran has the bomb.”

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini@gmail.com, @samhusseini
An independent journalist now writing at Substack, Husseini has questioned numerous U.S. officials who have refused to acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. See “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.” He notes that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a piece shortly before Biden became president: “Joe Biden should end the U.S. pretence over Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.” Husseini is also senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy.

Grant Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and has written extensively on U.S. policy on Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal including the piece “Challenging the secret ‘Israel Nuclear Weapons Gag Order’ WNP-136.”

Smith notes of the Beinart piece: “The key point is missed: If the U.S. acknowledges Israel’s nuclear weapons, it also acknowledges it has been supplying unlawful foreign aid to Israel since the mid-1970’s.” Grant estimates this totals nearly $300 billion.

Last year he wrote letters to several members of Congress who have voiced criticism of Israel, noting: “I believe your coalition has far more influence on the matter of foreign aid than it may realize. In 2016 and 2017 we sued the administration(s) over violations of the Arms Export Control Act, but did not prevail for lack of standing. Your coalition does not have such issues.”

See IPA news release: “Could Congress Cut off Funding to Israel by Acknowledging its Nuclear Weapons?

Britain’s Imprisonment of Journalist Craig Murray “Disgraceful”

Craig Murray — a former British ambassador who has become a journalist — has been imprisoned on the charge of “jigsaw identification.” Murray and others charge that he was targeted for his anti-establishment political stances including his exposing British and U.S. complicity with torture in Uzbekistan, where he was ambassador, and for his outspoken defense of Wikileaks founder Jullian Assange.

Scottish PEN noted the prosecution was without recent precedent, expressing “grave concern over the imprisonment of Craig Murray and calls for his release. The writer is the first person to be imprisoned in Scotland for media contempt for over 70 years. We fear this ruling will have a chilling effect on reporting and free expression.”

JOHN PILGER, jpilger2003@yahoo.co.uk@johnpilger
    Pilger is a longtime, award-winning journalist who has written several books and produced dozens of documentaries. He noted that the ruling against Murray drew a distinction between the actions of establishment outlets and those of independent journalists or bloggers: “The truly shocking jailing of Craig Murray means that journalists approved by the state are protected and those who challenge power — real journalism — are in grave danger.” See recent piece by Jonathan Cook: “Craig Murray’s jailing is the latest move in a battle to snuff out independent journalism.”

    Mohamed Elmaazi broke down several aspects of the case in May, following the original ruling and before Murray’s appeal was recently denied, in the article: “Whistleblower Craig Murray Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison Over His Reporting on Former Scottish First Minister’s Trial“: “A three-judge panel determined on March 25, 2021 — following a two-hour trial in January — that information published by Murray in a number of his blog posts was likely to lead indirectly to people being able to identify witnesses in [former Scottish First Minister Alex] Salmond’s sexual assault trial. This process, known as ‘jigsaw identification,’ refers to the possibility that a person may piece together information from various sources to arrive at the identification of a protected witness. … Salmond was acquitted by a jury on all 14 counts of sexual harassment and assault brought against him. However, that fact was considered irrelevant by the court when deciding the contempt of court case against Murray. Before Salmond was tried in March 2020, evidence had already emerged of a potential conspiracy against the former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).”

    Hugh Kerr, a former vice chair of Scottish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists, was a Labour Party Member of the European Parliament before he joined the SNP. He told Elmaazi that he considered both the verdict and the sentence in Murray’s case to be “disgraceful.”

    “Craig Murray has compiled a remarkable record of courage and integrity in exposing crimes of state and working to bring them to an end,” Professor Noam Chomsky stated, contending Murray “fully merits our deep respect and support for his achievements.”

    Murray put out a statement which was noted by the support group Craig Murray Justice before being imprisoned on Sunday: “I believe this is actually the state’s long-sought revenge for my whistleblowing on security service collusion with torture and my long term collaboration with Wikileaks and other whistleblowers. Unfortunately, important free speech issues are collateral damage.”

First Sign of Normalcy: Ramp up Evictions

MALIKA CONNER, malika@righttocounselnyc.org@RTCNYC
Director of organizing for Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Conner said today: “The CDC eviction moratorium set to expire July 31 doesn’t go far enough to protect tenants: It stops landlords from evicting only some tenants and doesn’t prevent landlords from suing. It also prioritizes landlords’ profits over tenants’ needs by requiring tenants to pay what little money they have towards rent.

“The current eviction protections in New York State, enacted through the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA), protects most tenants from eviction, but only if they submit a hardship declaration form. These state protections are set to expire on August 31 and must absolutely be extended to prevent a health and homelessness crisis.

“Neither of these so-called moratoriums stop landlords from suing tenants wholesale, which is a serious cause of anxiety and stress for tenants and puts hundreds of thousands of families in immediate risk of eviction when they expire.

“Right now, despite these protections, there are more than 236,000 households across New York State with eviction cases in Housing Court. During the pandemic alone, landlords sued more than 65,000 tenants for eviction. That’s a nearly 40 percent increase in eviction cases since March 2020 and tens of thousands of families at risk of losing their homes.

“We cannot let these protections expire while New Yorkers are still reeling from the pandemic. Many tenants are without work, are struggling to pay for necessities like food and healthcare, and continue to endure poor living conditions in apartments neglected by landlords throughout, and even before, the pandemic. A recent study by UCLA also found that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths ‘increased dramatically’ in states where eviction moratoriums had been lifted.

“Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must act now to stop mass evictions. The CEEFPA must be strengthened and extended beyond August 31st so all tenants are protected. Along with its many horrors, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us some important lessons. One of those lessons is that we can never again accept the routine inhumanity of the housing court eviction machine. Allowing the eviction protections to expire is simply not an option and will quickly reel us back to overcrowded, superspreader housing courts and families facing homelessness.”

Drone Whistleblower to be Sentenced Today

CHIP GIBBONS, chip@rightsanddissent.org@RightsDissent
    Gibbons is policy director with the group Defending Rights & Dissent which has done extensive work in the case of Daniel Hale, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He participated in the U.S. drone program, working with both the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

    Gibbons has said: “Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.”

    Gibbons said today: “Daniel Hale’s prosecution, like all prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, was a political prosecution. Hale was prosecuted not because he leaked classified information — such leaks are routine in Washington — but by exposing civilian casualties he contradicted official U.S. policy pronouncements about its global assassination program. …

    “The prosecution made it clear that by seeking an unprecedentedly harsh sentence they were seeking to chill other whistleblowers from coming forward to the press. Hale’s disclosures did not damage U.S. national security, but his prosecution damaged U.S. democracy.

    “Hale’s disclosure also included information about the U.S. watch list, which since released, has been used by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] to challenge the No Fly List. While Hale’s attorneys are requesting a sentence of 12 to 18 months, the prosecution are asking for a sentence of seven to nine years. Such a sentence would be the longest sentence ever given to a whistleblower who gave information to the media in a civilian court. As part of his sentencing, Hale penned a letter to the judge explaining how witnessing the gruesome human cost of drone strikes, as well as Obama’s pronouncements that precautions were taken to protect civilians, led him to seek to expose the true nature of U.S. drone warfare. Prosecutions under the Espionage Act were once rare, but became the norm under the Obama and Trump administrations. The use of the Espionage Act against journalists’ sources has been roundly condemned by press freedom advocates.”

    A copy of Hale’s letter to the judge and other material is available at StandWithDanielHale.org.