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Pandora Papers in Colombia: The Impact They Will Have On The 2022 Elections

In the recent leak of the tax haven accounts of politicians and celebrities, former presidents Gaviria and Pastrana appear. How can Pandora Papers affect Colombia? .

César Gaviria and Andrés Pastrana

The group of investigative journalists of the ICIJ revealed a leak of several accounts of relevant figures in the world with bank accounts in tax havens. Photo: Wikimedia-World Economic Forum, Wikimedia-U.S. military

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Pandora Papers en Colombia: este será su impacto en las elecciones 2022

The group of investigative journalists of the ICIJ revealed a leak of several accounts of relevant figures in the world with bank accounts in tax havens. There are exactly 11.9 million files from 14 offshore service companies. This represented 2.94 terabytes of information with secrets of personalities from 200 different countries and territories. According to the ICIJ, the list includes 330 politicians and 130 billionaires from Forbes magazine, celebrities, drug traffickers, members of royal families, and religious groups from around the planet. Among the most relevant Latinos are the current presidents Andrés Piñera, from Chile, Guillermo Lasso, from Ecuador, and Luis Abinader from the Dominican Republic.

Among the personalities, there are several Colombians. Artists like Shakira stand out. There are also several politicians, more precisely the former presidents Andrés Pastrana, César Gaviria, and the current director of the National Tax and Customs Department (DIAN), in charge of collecting taxes, Lisandro Junco.

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This, in the middle of the pre-electoral period, can have serious consequences, especially when in the country, both ex-presidents still have strong political influence. Andrés Pastrana, on the one hand, has been a great ally of Uribismo, and, being the last president of the Conservative party, he is its natural leader and an important piece in conservatism, which can affect legislative elections. However, its recent lack of prominence benefits its allies who have not yet had its explicit support. Surely at this time both members of the conservative party, as well as the Colombian right, will avoid being related to it.

For his part, Gaviria is the one who has the most power, and the one who can lose the most power. He is the current president of the Liberal party, one of the most influential forces in the regions, indispensable in legislative elections.

Additionally, recently, Gaviria has tried to put his political chips on a candidate with a Liberal past. This is Alejandro Gaviria (despite the same last name, he is not related to the former president), who is going as a candidate for the center. Even the entry of César Gaviria's Liberal party to the center coalition has been a reason for the division between Sergio Fajardo and Alejandro

Gaviria. The latter goes by independent movement but has received several flirtations since the red party.

The big winner of this scandal is Gustavo Petro. The leader of the Colombia Humana party reinforced his speech against the traditional political class of the Colombian elites, those who have ended up in this same place since liberalism or conservatism. Additionally, both Pastrana and Gaviria are far from their campaign and they are left as a great argument to attack their rivals.

Precisely, Petro has already included the scandal of these leaks to consolidate his discourse against the elites and arrive even more strengthened at the next elections, where for now, he is the one who leads the polls.

What are tax haven accounts for?

Offshore accounts or accounts in tax havens refer to accounts in foreign banks without paying tax, but which does have tax obligations in the country where it is opened. These accounts are generally very desirable both for committing crimes and for security.

Those who open them to avoid paying taxes, evidently commit tax evasion. However, they are not the only crime that can be committed. Many criminals or corrupt politicians use these accounts to be able to handle money without being traced.

However, not all are illegal motives. Many artists or entrepreneurs use them to move money abroad more easily, to have greater security, or to maintain savings in stable economies when their country has a devalued currency. However, it is the obligation of the holders to inform the tax agencies of their country of residence of the existence of these accounts and the amounts.

What is a tax haven?

Tax havens are those countries or territorial areas with tax autonomy that have such low or almost zero taxes that they are presented as an excellent alternative to keep the money. However, some tax havens are micronations, whether they are islands in the Caribbean or European states like Andorra. Being so small, if these countries maintain thousands of bank accounts full of money and charge a small percentage for them, it is enough to maintain their local economy.