JOHANNESBURG - An explosive cache of 13.4 million documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers which emerged from more than 19 "secrecy jurisdictions", was obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
The leaked documents reveal how two firms, Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti Trust help the rich and powerful secretly move their money into offshore accounts.
Offshore companies are notorious for draining national treasuries by operating as ''shell companies" which attract the likes of money launders who operate within complex tax avoidance structures.
The 180 countries represented in the data leak reveal just how intricately the offshore financial system is entangled within worlds of politics, private wealth and corporate giants.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the 13.4 million records which implicated more than 120 global politicians, was the offshore interests of the queen of England; the ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary and the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
One offshore web reportedly lead to Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who has a stake in a shipping company that has received more than $68 million in revenue since 2014 from a Russian energy company co-owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The offshore ties of more than a dozen Trump advisers, Cabinet members and major donors appear in the leaked data
Corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies have also been fingered in elaborate book-keeping tactics to avoid taxes.
Reports of the leak into Appleby's file revealed that Queen Elizabeth II invested millions of dollars in medical and consumer loan companies.
Although the Duchy of Lancaster, the Queen’s private estate provides some details of its investments in U.K. property, it has never disclosed details of its offshore investments.
Reports also indicate that US citizens make up at least 31,000, more than any other country, of the individual and corporate clients included in Appleby’s records.
Appleby has counted clients from the United Kingdom, China and Canada among its biggest sources of business.
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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE