Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah highlight some surprising, famous 'tax cheats' in the Pandora Papers

"Last night there was a massive report about tax havens dropped by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, documenting that hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders, and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts, and other assets for the past quarter century," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "The people named in the leak are from across the economic spectrum, from the impossibly wealthy all the way down to the ridiculously rich."

And they aren't hiding their wealth just in "far-flung locations like the Cayman Islands and Panama," Colbert said. "According to the leak, the state of South Dakota is sheltering billions of dollars in wealth. That's right, South Dakota is the new Cayman Islands, and it's the perfect place to hide your money, because no one wants to go there to get it." Jordan's King Abdullah II, Russian President Vladimir Putin's former mistress, and several other world leaders are implicated in the Pandora Papers, he added. "The report also includes celebrities like Claudia Schiffer, Monica Bellucci, even Shakira — turns out her hips don't lie, but her accountant does."

"Now, I will say, the Shakira thing surprised a lot of people, because all this time we were worried about Shakira's hips lying when we should have been focused on her accountant," Trevor Noah joked on The Daily Show. But "before you're quick to judge people like Elton John and Shakira for not paying their taxes, ask yourself this questions: When is the last time any of us paid for music?"

"On one level, it isn't surprising that rich people avoid paying taxes," Noah said. "I mean, these are the world's elites. For them, life's like Waffle House after 2 a.m. — there are no rules. But it's still eye-opening to see just what lengths they go to to hide their wealth." And it's surprising there aren't more wealthy U.S. "tax cheats" on the list — though there's a prevailing theory for that, he added. "Not having a tax haven problem because your tax laws are already so easy on wealthy people — that, my friends, is rock 'n' roll. I mean, it almost makes me feel bad for American billionaires, though, because hiding the money is part of the fun. It's like robbing a bank, but they just give you the cash when you walk in. It's not the same."