Paradise Papers carry on where Panama left off
November 6—Heads of state, politicians, business leaders, accountants, celebrities and lawyers in many major capitals around the world, are reeling from the latest revelations into how they hide their money from tax authorities.
The Paradise Papers is a global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies. In the case of East Africa, Sam Kutesa, the present Uganda foreign affairs minister and Sally Kosgei, a diplomat in President’ Moi administration and former Kenya agriculture minister, are cited.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 95 media partners explored 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries. The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Highlights include the offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, and 13 advisers, major donors and members of United States President Donald J. Trump
The documents expose the tax engineering of more than 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike and Botox-maker Allerga. Also revealed are the tax haven shopping sprees undertaken by multinational companies in Africa and Asia that use shell companies in Mauritius and Singapore to reduce tax liability.
The Paradise Papers shine a light on secretive deals and hidden companies connected to Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trader, and provides detailed accounts of the company’s negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for valuable mineral resources.
Detailed information is provided on how owners of jets and yachts, including royalty and sports stars, used Isle of Man (just off Britain) for tax-avoidance structures.
The Paradise Papers documents include nearly seven million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork from nearly 50 years at Appleby, a leading offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.
The documents also include files from a smaller, family-owned trust company, Asiaciti, and from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The records range from complex, 100-page corporate transaction sheets and dollar-by-dollar payment ledgers to simple corporate registries of countries, such as Antigua & Barbuda, that do not publicly list names of company shareholders or directors.
Paradise Papers files expose offshore holdings of political leaders and their financiers as well as household-name companies that slash taxes through transactions conducted in secret. Financial deals of billionaires and celebrities are also revealed in the documents. The files include far more information about US citizens, residents and companies than previous ICIJ investigations – at least 31,000 of them.
ICIJ collaborated with more than 380 journalists working on six continents in 30 languages. Many team members spent a year using online platforms to communicate and to share documents. Journalists tracked down court records, obtained financial disclosures of politicians in Africa, Europe, and Latin and North America, filed freedom of information requests and conducted hundreds of interviews with tax experts, policymakers and industry insiders.