Yankton Press & Dakotan Echoes Blog Call for Trust Transparency and Legislative Action Against Russia – Dakota Free Press

While South Dakota’s Trumpublican party blog complains that U.S. Democratic House candidate Ryan Ryder’s tweets are too mean, the Yankton Press & Dakotan endorses this blog’s call for the state of South Dakota to get tough with Russia and our secretive trust industry:

As you recall, the “Pandora Papers” leaked last fall revealed that South Dakota was one of the world’s most popular hiding places for international tax-derived wealth, thanks to financial disclosure laws and of deliberately opaque state trusts. The state’s murky trust funds have swelled to around $360 billion over the past decade. Given South Dakota’s world-renowned reputation in this dubious field, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of that Russian money was hidden in that state.

South Dakota officials need to address this because it is now a global security issue.

As the political blog Dakota Free Press said last week, “The state should immediately freeze these assets and investigate any connection between these owners and the Russian government. If the state discovers Russian assets tied to Putin’s war machine, it should dissolve those trust agreements, seize the Russian assets, and grant legal immunity to the lawyers who help us confiscate those assets.

At this point we have seen little action in this regard [Kelly Hertz, “Is There Russian Cash Stowed Away in South Dakota?” Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2022.03.01].

The editorial asserts that our legislature’s refusal to follow the example of other states that have taken quick and concrete steps to weaken Putin’s war machine demonstrates a serious lack of political will and morality:

The Associated Press reported Monday that while many states are taking action against Russian interests, South Dakota is not one of them. One story noted that Governor Kristi Noem, along with fellow GOP Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis of Florida, are instead “primarily targeting (targeting) President Joe Biden rather than issuing executive orders targeting Russia.” They criticized its energy policy and said it was difficult to impose sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports. But other states are responding more vigorously, including North Dakota considering withdrawing its investments from Russia and Iowa calling for the removal of Russian-origin alcohol from stores.

Meanwhile, South Dakota lawmakers are in Pierre doing business as you read this. While it is too late to introduce new legislation for this session, perhaps more steps can be taken now on Capitol Hill to shed light on this particular tax secret at such an extraordinary time.

Or perhaps the laws protecting these trusts are too impenetrable for action to be taken.

Or maybe the will to disrupt what some consider a good thing just doesn’t exist.

But in this dangerous time of international crisis, cyber threats and even the sound of nuclear sabers – at a time when literally lives are at stake – if we are unable or unwilling to monitor the anonymous global money that is pouring into this State as a means of hiding wealth, South Dakota has a bigger problem on its hands than maintaining this morally ambiguous financial black hole we have so cleverly created. [Hertz, 2022.03.01].

Maybe the oligarch Republican Party will say that we in the media are too mean to the trust industry and the good people who hide their money in our state. But they won’t whitewash at the nastiness they facilitate with their adherence to financial secrecy.