Rabat - The offshore secrets of the world’s richest are being exposed this week in a massive 13-million-document leak. Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leak shows that the elite like Queen Elizabeth II, members of Trump’s administration, and various African presidents use offshore accounts to preserve their wealth and avoid taxation.
Rabat – The offshore secrets of the world’s richest are being exposed this week in a massive 13-million-document leak. Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leak shows that the elite like Queen Elizabeth II, members of Trump’s administration, and various African presidents use offshore accounts to preserve their wealth and avoid taxation.
As the poor are growing poorer, the rich are sheltering their wealth in secretive havens, mainly to avoid taxation but also to evade international sanctions and to hide compromising financial deals.
The massive document leak carried out by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed a vast tax abuse network of over 25,000 companies owned by individuals from 180 countries, stemming all the way back to 1950.
The 13.4 million documents were mainly leaked from Appleby, a law firm based in Bermuda.
The 119-year-old company assists wealthy clients in circumventing millions of dollars in tax burden by placing ownership of assets, including companies, private aircraft, real estate and yachts, in small tropical islands that “charge zero taxes and [do] not ask many questions,” says The Guardian.
The documents were obtained from two companies in Singapore and Bermuda by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the same group that unveiled a similar trove referred to as the Panama Papers in 2016, who then shared them with the ICIJ.
Among the major companies appearing in the Paradise Papers is tech giant Apple. The company sifts a big portion of its earnings to Irish subsidiaries, avoiding income taxes. The offshore business saved Apple more than USD 128 billion in earnings free from taxation. On November 7, Politico reported that the European competition authorities had contacted Apple over the tax arrangement exposed by the leak.
Apple, Nike, and Facebook avoided “billions of dollars” in tax using offshore companies, according to The Express Tribune.
British Queen Elizabeth II is also listed in the leak, as about USD 13 million of her private money was invested in offshore islands.
Three former Canadian prime ministers are also named in the Paradise Papers: Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Brian Mulroney.
The papers found that Stephen Bronfman, an adviser and close friend of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, also moved millions of dollars offshore.
From Trump’s administration, more than a dozen members are included the business, including the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Gary D. Cohn, the director of the US National Economic Council. Wilbur Ross, the United States Secretary of Commerce, holds stakes in offshore businesses which deal with Russian officials sanctioned by the US.
Major American donors and advisers also pop up in the documents, including major donors Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson.
The African names to appear in the list so far are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nigeria President of the Nigerian Senate Bukola Saraki and Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa.
Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former deputy minister of defense for Saudi Arabia, is in the list for owning yachts and airplanes in Bermuda.
Rami Makhlouf, reportedly Syria’s wealthiest man, is listed in the papers along with the sons of Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Y?ld?r?m.
Between the two leaks, the Paradise Papers are bigger in number of records (13.5 million in Paradise Papers vs. 11.5 million in Panama Papers) while the Panama Papers are bigger in terms of size of the leak (1.4 terabytes in Paradise Papers vs. 2.6 terabytes in Panama Papers).