Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

‘Paradise Papers’ renew questions about tax havens


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II visits the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment at Hyde Park Barracks in London on Oct. 24.

Photo: EPA-EFE

A new set of data taken from an offshore law firm again threatens to expose the hidden wealth of individuals and show how corporations, hedge funds and others may have skirted taxes.

A year after the Panama Papers, a massive leak of confidential information from the Bermuda law firm Appleby Group Services Ltd has shone another light on the use of offshore accounts.

Here are the highlights so far of the reporting by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and partner news outlets on the so-called Paradise Papers released on Sunday; Bloomberg has not seen the leaked documents:

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross faces questions about his financial disclosures to the US Congress and the government after a report that he did not disclose business ties to the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an oligarch under US sanctions.

The Appleby documents included details of Ross’ stake in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, according to the New York Times.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made a series of investments in a Cayman Islands fund through the royal family’s private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Canadian tax authorities are reviewing reports linking a key fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to offshore trusts in the Caribbean.

Montreal-based businessman Stephen Bronfman was among the individuals cited by news organizations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, Radio-Canada and the Toronto Star in Sunday’s leak.

Prominent Silicon Valley investor Yuri Milner, who was an early backer of Facebook, partnered in two investments with the Russian state-controlled bank VTB Bank PJSC before it was sanctioned, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Lord Michael Ashcroft, a major donor to the UK’s Conservative Party, had links to a Bermuda-based trust with assets worth as much as US$450 million, the Guardian reported.

Britain’s tax authority has asked to look at the leaked documents to examine any allegations, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday.

“It is important to point out that holding investments offshore is not an automatic sign of wrongdoing, but HMRC [Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs] has requested to see the papers urgently so it can look into any allegations,” he told reporters.

Indonesian authorities are investigating if former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and the children of ex-dictator Suharto, named in the leaked documents, are in breach of the country’s tax laws.

EU finance ministers are set today to discuss setting up a blacklist of worldwide tax havens, EU officials said yesterday.

EU countries had planned for months to reach an agreement on a blacklist for tax havens by the end of this year and the new revelations prompted an earlier discussion on the subject, EU officials said, adding that no final decision was expected today.

In Moscow, Russian politicians downplayed leaks concerning Russian officials and state companies, insisting the deals were legal and not politically motivated.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AFP

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