MILWAUKEE – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday issued the following statement after 11.5 million documents were made public from a Panama law firm that helped some of the world’s wealthiest people establish offshore bank accounts:
“We now know, as a result of the ‘Panama Papers’ released by an international consortium of investigative journalists, that more than 214,000 entities throughout the world have been using a law firm in Panama to avoid paying taxes.
“At a time of massive income and wealth inequality in the United States and around the world, the wealthiest people and largest corporations must start paying their fair share of taxes. Children should not go hungry while billionaires use offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
“The Panama Free Trade Agreement put a stamp of approval on Panama, a world leader when it comes to allowing the wealthy and the powerful to avoid taxes.
“I was opposed to the Panama Free Trade Agreement from day one. I predicted that the passage of this disastrous trade deal would make it easier, not harder, for the wealthy and large corporations to evade taxes by sheltering billions of dollars offshore. I wish I had been proven wrong about this, but it has now come to light that the extent of Panama’s tax avoidance scams is even worse than I had feared.
“My opponent, on the other hand, opposed this trade agreement when she was running against Barack Obama for president in 2008. But when it really mattered she quickly reversed course and helped push the Panama Free Trade Agreement through Congress as Secretary of State. The results have been a disaster.
“The American people are sick and tired of establishment politicians who say one thing during a campaign and do the exact opposite the day after the election.
“It is time for real change. As president, I will use my authority to terminate the Panama Free Trade Agreement within six months. My administration will conduct an immediate investigation into U.S. banks, corporations and wealthy individuals who have been stashing their cash in Panama to avoid taxes. If any of them have violated U.S. law, my administration will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”