Paradise Papers

Move over Panama Papers we have a new leak in town

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The top of the food chain has been revealed.

Sandy Hutchins, Sports Editor

In 2017 one of the largest leaks since the Panama Papers was released. The Paradise Papers is a 1.4 Terabyte collection of financial documents that deal with the industry of offshore finance. This has resulted in numerous stories about politicians, multinationals, and celebrities using complex structures to prevent higher taxes being placed on their cash. Just like the Panama Papers, the documents were given to a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. They have since reported this to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to oversee the investigation into these papers. Since the leak there are now almost 100 media groups investigating the papers. They are called the Paradise Papers because many of the companies HQs are in areas like Bermuda.

These papers have exposed a politicians, multinationals, celebrities, and high-net-worth individuals. Some of the more prominent stories released so far include: Prince Charles’ investment affairs and investments in the offshore industry, Apple avoiding high taxes, Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton avoided tax on his £16.5m luxury jet, one of President Donald Trump’s top administration officials kept a financial stake in a firm whose major partners include a Russian company part-owned by President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, and billionaire Dermot Desmond’s exclusive private jet company used an offshore tax haven to avoid taxes. These are some of the biggest so far, but there will be plenty more to come as these media groups continue to sift through and analyze these documents.

The Paradise Papers include 13.4 million documents, and the largest amount, about 6.8 million, seem to be focused on the legal service provider Appleby and its corporate services Estera. Six million other documents come from mostly Caribbean corporations and finally a smaller amount come from Singapore-based trust and corporate services provider, Asiaciti Trust. These documents date as far back as 1950 all the way up to 2016.

So what does all this mean and who are these companies and what do they do? Tax haven is the term usually used in the media and public. It is basically a financial jurisdiction outside the regulations of your own nation used by companies and individuals to lower their taxes on profits or assets, which almost always is unethical, and sometimes illegal. Appleby, the largest company, is a law firm whose goal is to help these individuals and companies set up their companies and/or accounts in countries or areas that tax much less than where the company actually operates. Appleby clients are mainly from the United States at 31,000, followed by 14,000 from the UK and 12,000 in the Bermuda.

The source that gave the leaks to the German newspaper has remained anonymous as Süddeutsche Zeitung does not comment on its sources as a general policy. Partners from 67 countries are taking a look at these papers including the Guardian and the New York Times. These papers are different from the Panama Papers as the companies included in this leak are the high end companies unlike those included in the Panama Papers, who would deal with anybody. This is an ongoing investigation and more stories are sure to pop up about the top players in off shore financing.