November 6, 2017

Paradise Papers and the Democrats' Hail Mary claims

The Paradise Papers recently released to the public reveal tax avoidance among the elite and will be poured over for a while revealing new salacious details about who is doing what.  Here's why you should not trust the media to do that for you.

The Paradise Papers had some link between Wilbur Ross, president Trump's Commerce Secretary and Russia.  The media will be quick to yell collusion.  But it isn't really;
Ross is reportedly a major shareholder in an ocean freight company called Navigator, which has contracted more than $68 million through transactions with Russian energy group Sibur since 2014.

In turn, Sibur's biggest shareholders include Putin-ally Leonid Mikhelson, who controls another energy company sanctioned by the US Treasury for its close ties to the Russian president.

Sibur's two other owners include Gennady Timchenko, who is also sanctioned by the US government for his ties to Putin, and Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Putin's youngest daughter.

In addition to Ross, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that over a dozen Trump advisers, cabinet members and campaign donors appear in the leaked data.
So Ross is a shareholder in a freight company that deals with a Russian energy company  who has as a major shareholder an ally of Putin and two other owners who are also closely tied to Putin. That's a far cry from collusion.  The two companies have worked together.  Big deal. Companies do business with other companies and I bet far more often than not, they do not do extensive background checks of each others' major shareholders.  Why? Because when an energy company needs something transported, the transport companies are probably only interested in how much money they can make transporting stuff for their potential customer.

Is it a failure of due diligence by Navigator of a possibly sanctioned company?  Possibly. Is that Wilbur Ross' fault? Likely not. He probably didn't know any of the details at all.  

Furthermore, if he is the worst example in the lot being put forward, that doesn't say much for any other Trump team members being worthy of further investigation. 

Democrats nevertheless are arguing that the GOP tax bill should be halted.  That's political opportunism and a straw man argument against the tax reform / tax cuts bill. It's pretty much a Hail Mary argument against tax cuts designed to bringing billions of dollars back into the American economy.  It won't work.

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