Paradise Papers Expose Tax Evasion Schemes Of Global Elite

November 06, 2017

Some 400 reporters from 67 countries have scoured 13.4 million secret documents and uncovered tax-evasion techniques used by the super rich and high-ranking politicians, German media reported on Sunday. The leaked data was obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which said that the majority of the documents stem from offshore law firm Appleby, which was founded in Bermuda but has offices in several other locations. The company reported last month that it had been hacked. The documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, appear to show ties between members of US President Donald Trump's cabinet and Russian firms.

Shrinking taxes

The documents also show that by using shell companies, corporations such as Nike, Apple, Uber and Facebook are able to shrink their taxes to low rates. Rock star Bono, as well as British Queen Elizabeth II's private estate, has also been involved in offshore funds, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. Over 120 politicians from 47 countries are involved in the tax-evasion schemes, the paper reported. Economist Gabriel Zucman told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the global elite have parked an estimated 7.9 trillion euros ($9.1 trillion) in offshore tax havens. The data was published by a number of news organizations in cooperation with the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Trump's Cabinet and Russian links

The leaks expose US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, alleging links with Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies.  "Billionaire Wilbur Ross makes money from business with Russia. That he sits in US President Donald Trump's Cabinet does not appear to change that," the Süddeutsche Zeitung said in its report. Ross is reportedly a major shareholder in an ocean freight company called Navigator, which has contracted more than $68 million through transactions with Russian energy group Sibur since 2014.

In turn, Sibur's biggest shareholders include Putin-ally Leonid Mikhelson, who controls another energy company sanctioned by the US Treasury for its close ties to the Russian president. Sibur's two other owners include Gennady Timchenko, who is also sanctioned by the US government for his ties to Putin, and Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Putin's youngest daughter. In addition to Ross, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that over a dozen Trump advisers, Cabinet members and campaign donors appear in the leaked data.


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