Paradise Papers: 10 shocking revelations

Biggest financial data leak ever reveals how the Queen has millions invested offshore

  1. At a time the country is involved in challenging Brexit negotiations and there has been increased calls for tax avoidance, a new leak — dubbed the Paradise Papers — has revealed how some of the country’s powerful and ultra-wealthy have been avoiding taxes by channelling earnings through offshore tax havens.
  2. The leak has also exposed a royal connection wherein Queen Elizabeth has about $13m in private money invested offshore. While that is not illegal, it raises questions about why the head of the British royal family is investing assets outside the country.
  3. The leaked documents were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and contains 13.4m files, mostly from the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby and Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust. In total, 381 journalists in 67 countries had been studying the material over the last year.
  4. Appleby is a major offshore law firm and has offices in many tax havens like British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Mauritius, the Isle of Man and the Seychelles. Responding to the leak on Sunday, Appleby said there is “no evidence” that it has done anything wrong.
  5. The leak comes just 18 months after the disclosure of the Panama Papers sent shockwaves through the business world and for which, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) won a Pulitzer Prize.
  6. In addition to the initial cache of data released last night, the ICIJ has promised further information will be made public throughout the week and will include ‘stories on strategies used by multinational corporations to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions’ and an expose on ‘the world of private jets and yachts’ owned in offshore tax havens.
  7. The leak has also uncovered a trust sheltering the wealth of a major Tory party donor, Lord Ashcroft. According to leaked financial statements, the trust had assets worth £341m in 2006.
  8. It was also emerged that President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, was linked to 22 Bermuda-based entities during his former job at Goldman Sachs.
  9. The US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, was also found to have business ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and a Russian oligarch under US sanctions, which he failed to disclose earlier this year.
  10. International household names such as Nike and Apple also feature prominently in the list, highlighted for their alleged use of aggressive tax avoidance schemes. Among celebrities, the report also found that U2’s Bono invested in a Lithuanian shopping centre through a company based in Malta.

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