The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the “Paradise Papers” — a bombshell global investigation that includes leaks from the Bermuda-founded law firm Appleby.
The details emerging from a leak of 13.4 millions files reveals the tax abuses of the global elite class. It also includes the artificial ways through which ill-gotten money can be protected artificially by wealthy companies.
The leak comes from two offshore service providers in Singapore and Bermuda, and company registries of 19 tax havens. All the data was obtained by a German newspaper, “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, whose partners include the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.
With the help of offshore companies, the global elite can reroute money, assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes outside of their own countries regulations.
Several ultra-wealthy peoplem including politicians and celebrities, were named in the bombshell leak.
According to the Paradise Papers, nearly £10m ($13 million) of Queen Elizabeth's private money was invested offshore. It was invested in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda by the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the queen with an income and handles investments for her £500m private estate.
Small investments were also put in rent-to-buy retailer BrightHouse, which has been accused of exploiting the poor, and the Threshers chain of off-licenses, which was later shutdown after owing £17.5 million in taxes, costing almost 6,000 people their jobs.
The massive probe also exposed President Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross’ interest in a shipping company that had a Russian energy company as one of its main clients and earned millions of dollars from an energy firm whose owners included Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and a Russian tycoon.
Ross held a large investment in Navigator Holdings, the energy firm that transported gas for Russian natural gas firm Sibur.
This raises serious questions about the Trump administration having direct ties with the Kremlin, which has been accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Ethics experts believe that even if there is nothing illegal about the arrangement, it still raises ethical questions, owing to the fact that one of the lead voices in the administration's trade policy could be making money from business with Russia.
“I am astonished and appalled because I feel misled,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut mentioning the general impression was that Ross had gotten rid of his stakes at Navigator. “Our committee was misled; the American people were misled by the concealment of those companies.”
Several other key members from Trump administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were also named in the leaks.
The leaks also exposed how the Kremlin invested in Twitter and Facebook through a magnate, named Yuri Milner, the tech mogul now happens to be a business associate for Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He invested $850,000 in Cadre, a real estate firm co-founded by Kushner.
Music legends Madonna and Bono were also named in the leaks. Major corporate companies including Apple, Nike, Uber, Tesla, Microsoft and ebay also skirted their taxes via offshore companies.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Dado Ruvic