Paradise Papers- Photo courtesy of ICIJ website Paradise Papers- Photo courtesy of ICIJ website

Paradise Papers reveal more hidden wealth

Mon, Nov. 6, 2017
CAIRO – 6 November 2017: Global governments and international communities were shaken Saturday as a new leak exposed 13.4 million secret files in tax havens, proving links with world leaders and business tycoons.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 95 media partners revealed files obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung as offshore law firm Appleby was a victim of a hack.

Secret overseas investments of prominent figures are now known to the globe, with key findings unveiling millions of pounds worth of investments by the British queen Elizabeth II.

Other major findings include offshore dealings by ministers and advisors of U.S. President Donald Trump, most prominently payments made by a law firm owned by a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Some multinational corporations, such as Nike and Apple, were also proven to have managed to dodge taxes by hiding their wealth in havens.

A spokesperson for the Duchy of Lancaster, which handles the Queen's private wealth, denied in statements using illegal methods to avoid taxes. "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate,” they said, according to the Guardian.

The Paradise Papers encompasses around seven million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, and trust deeds for 50 years at Appleby, which provides offshore legal services for companies and high net worth individuals.

Responding to the leak, UK-based Tax Justice Network (TJN) said in a press release that they call on world leaders to end tax abuse and financial secrecy. “The United Nations should convene a summit of world leaders with the goal of agreeing to a UN convention to end tax abuse and financial secrecy,” TJN noted.

“These leaks confirm the systemic nature of tax abuse and corrupt practices, with global financial secrecy being marketed by major law firms, banks and accounting firms,” Chief Executive of TJN Alex Cobham added.

Tax havens are legal and sometimes secret offshore financial centres used by companies to reduce their tax bill by moving their capital out of countries through loopholes in national laws.

Member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were estimated to have lost over $400 billion because of tax havens, while lower-income countries were said to have lost $200 billion, according to researchers at the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department.

Meanwhile, the Tax Justice Network researchers' data indicated a higher revenue loss at $500 billion in OECD countries.

In April 2016, more than 11 million documents were leaked from the world’s fourth biggest law firm Mossack Fonseca, unveiling names of international politicians and public figures that hide their wealth in tax havens, in what was known as “the Panama Papers.”
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