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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a leak of 11.9 million files of financial data to several news organizations Sunday. According to the massive leak, 35 current and former national leaders, and more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries are hiding their wealth. Now reporters are calling it the “Pandora Papers.”
Scale of the Pandora Papers
Among the allegations, Vladimir Putin’s alleged girlfriend Svetlana Krivonogikh is revealed to have a secret Monaco apartment. She became the owner shortly after giving birth to Putin’s supposed daughter, who is now 18 years old. Leaks also accuse current Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of owning a secret $22 million estate in France.
Those in the consortium have not revealed how they came across the files. But they come from 14 sources and 2.94 terabytes of data. It is the largest scale offshore-finance leak so far. In addition, they plan to publish more.
Reactions to the Leak
Whistleblower turned fugitive Edward Snowden tipped his hat to the whistleblowers involved. “The humorous side of this very serious story is that even after two apocalyptic offshore finance/law firm leaks, those industries are still compiling vast databases of ruin, and still secure them with a Post-It Note marked ‘do not leak,'” Snowden tweeted.
Then, heads of state responded to the leak. President Biden tweeted that he is determined to change the wealthy’s “free ride.”
“Those at the top have been getting a free ride at the expense of the middle class for far too long. With my Build Back Better Agenda, we’re going to change that,” Biden wrote.
Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “It is a global problem,” Sunak said. “And we need other countries to cooperate with us to tackle this. But we are determined to do that.”
Finally, Babiš denied any wrong doing in a debate Sunday. However the Kremlin has not responded to requests for comment.
You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.
NY Lawmakers want to tax tech giants to get $500M to fund unemployment benefits for illegal migrants
New York lawmakers are debating over a proposed Democratic initiative that would pave the way for a multibillion-dollar fund designed to provide unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants. Spearheaded by state Senator Jessica Ramos, a Queens Democrat, the proposal has ignited passionate discussions within the Senate Finance Committee, where it currently awaits further deliberation.
The Center Square reports the proposal would utilize a $500 million trust fund earmarked specifically to offer jobless benefits for individuals who find themselves ineligible for traditional unemployment payments and other public assistance programs. To finance this ambitious endeavor, proponents of the plan are advocating for the imposition of a novel tax targeting tech behemoths like Google and Amazon. This tax, aimed at digital advertising revenue, is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain the fund.
Ramos has alluded to her belief that migrants are a fundamental contribution to the state’s economy. Despite their authorization to work, payment of taxes, and active involvement in the labor force, undocumented immigrants face a glaring disparity—they are excluded from accessing vital safety nets like unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.
In a social media post, Ramos cited the expiration of federal unemployment insurance for freelancers and the depletion of the Excluded Workers Fund. She argues vehemently for a safety net aligned with the evolving dynamics of the labor market, one that extends support to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.
The proposed fund, aptly named the Unemployment Bridge Program, outlines comprehensive eligibility criteria encompassing a spectrum of marginalized workers—from undocumented migrants to freelancers and individuals recently released from incarceration or immigrant detention. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, the program endeavors to streamline the application process, ensuring equitable access to unemployment benefits for those in need.
The initiative comes in the wake of prolonged deliberations regarding jobless benefits for undocumented immigrants and nontraditional workers in New York. Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously allocated $2.1 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund, offering a lifeline to those excluded from conventional unemployment benefits.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 underscores a commitment to supporting asylum seekers, with significant allocations directed towards housing and legal assistance. The proposal has met with opposition from Republicans, who argue for prioritizing legal residents and taxpayers in the allocation of state resources. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt contends that limited resources should be reserved exclusively for those who have contributed to the state’s tax base.
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