TAKE A BREAK
A CRASH COURSE ON OFFSHORE FINANCE
Like the Panama Papers released in 2016, the Pandora Papers published in October 2021 expose the financial secrets of some of the world’s wealthiest people. In particular, they detail how the very rich use offshore finance to hide the extent of their wealth.
But what exactly is offshore finance? Why do people use it? Is it even legal to use?
Offshore finance gets its name from the island and coastal locations where the practice of creating foreign tax havens originated. Today, offshore finance refers to any financial instruments or assets kept in countries that are not the owner’s country of residence.
DEEP-FRIED NEW YEAR’S ‘COOKIES’
When an offshore account is created, it follows the financial regulations of the nation in which it is held. Countries commonly used for offshore finance often have stricter
What do you get when you mix a cookie and a doughnut? A portzelky! This traditional Mennonite “New Year’s cookie” is perfect for sharing.
privacy laws and allow the creation of shell companies. Shell companies are organizations that exist on paper only, without employees or offices, but act as a legal “shield” against taxation and creditors. (At least 19,000 shell companies exist in the Cayman Islands alone.) Simply having an offshore bank account or shell company is not illegal or even necessarily a sign of nefarious activity. Lawyers and accountants who deal in offshore finance often know exactly how to use the law to their clients’ advantage. They can also propose solutions that are technically legal. But concerns arise since the countries chosen to hold wealth offshore tend to prevent foreign governments from inspecting their accounts; this makes legal vetting next to impossible. A lack of transparency is the main point of contention, and it’s the reason why many people look at offshore finance negatively. Because the U.S. government cannot determine which assets are being held offshore, it cannot impose any taxes on them. Some parties also view hiding wealth offshore as a way of protecting a person’s assets from civil lawsuits, creditors, or investigations in the owner’s home country. It’s estimated that over $1 trillion is held in offshore accounts, and studies indicate that the bulk of this money is owned by the ultra-wealthy. Further, experts believe that the tax revenue lost to offshore finance equals about $800 billion per year worldwide. As to whether or not the Pandora Papers will inspire changes to the law, we’ll just have to wait and see.
• 2 1/2 cups milk, warmed • 1 1/2 tsp salt • 4 cups raisins • 7 cups flour • 4 cups canola oil
• 2 tbsp yeast • 1/2 cup water, warmed • 1/2 cup and 1 tsp sugar, divided • 5 eggs, beaten • 1/4 cup butter, softened
1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and 1 tsp sugar. Wait 10 minutes. 2. Stir in remaining sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and salt. 3. Fold in the raisins and flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour. 4. In a high-sided pot or deep fryer, heat canola oil to 340 F. Line a plate with paper towels. 5. Drop a rounded tablespoon of dough into the oil. Fry until golden brown, then set aside on the plate. Poke the cookie with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s cooked through! 6. Repeat until the batter is gone.
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