Not Underground — The Significance Of The Paradise Papers
It’s no surprise that the rich and powerful hide their money in tax shelters like Swiss bank accounts, the Cayman Islands, and other banks all around the world. It’s so widely known that they’ve been joked about for decades in spy movies and even a famous episode of The Simpsons where Krusty the Clown was exposed as a tax cheat. What has been slowly been unveiled over the past few days are a huge leak called the “Paradise Papers.”
The Paradise Papers are exposing a whole load of celebrities, millionaires and billionaires, but what exactly are the Paradise Papers, and what’s in them?
The Paradise Papers are not quite like the Panama Papers. Sure, they’re both gigantic document dumps, but the Panama Papers were over 2 years ago, and a lot of journalists are still looking into them. They both are hitting every industry by showing off the dealings of financial dealings with, but they have yet to overlap… so far.
It all started in Britain, where there was a leak of 13.4 million files that exposed many British citizens for, ahem, hiding their vast fortunes so that they don’t have to pay taxes like us regular schlubs. Since Brexit has the potential to be a major financial disaster for the region, it seems obvious the rich would want to protect themselves.
The Paradise Papers detail large amounts of information about various tax shelters, shell companies, and many other financial dealings and those involved. The royal family is involved. Not even them, but even the holier than thou musician Bono. But we’ll get to that later.
Many of the people associated with President Donald Trump are implicated in the papers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Russia is also involved with said financial transactions and tax havens.
Who and what’s implicated in the papers?
- Prince Charles campaigned to alter climate-change agreements without disclosing his private estate had an offshore financial interest in what he was promoting
- Apple has protected its low-tax regime by using the Channel Island of Jersey
- Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton avoided tax on his £16.5m luxury jet, the papers suggest
- The Queen’s private estate invested about £10m offshore including a small amount in the company behind BrightHouse, a chain accused of irresponsible lending
- 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
- An entrepreneur charged with managing the oil wealth of the struggling African state of Angola was paid more than $41m in just 20 months
- A Lithuanian shopping mall partly owned by U2 star Bono is under investigation for potential tax evasion
- How three stars of the hit BBC sitcom, Mrs Brown’s Boys, diverted more than £2m into an offshore tax-avoidance scheme
- One of the world’s largest firms loaned a businessman previously accused of corruption $45m and asked him to negotiate mining rights in the DR Congo
- The Isle of Man passed a law that would help tax evaders, the documents show
- A key aide of Canada’s PM has been linked to offshore schemes that may have cost the nation millions of dollars in taxes, threatening to embarrass Justin Trudeau
- Lord Ashcroft, a former Conservative party deputy chairman and a significant donor, may have broken the rules around how his offshore investments were managed. Other papers suggest he retained his non-dom tax status while in the House of Lords, despite claiming to have become resident in the UK
- How questions were raised about who is controlling Everton FC
- An oligarch with close links to the Kremlin may have secretly taken ownership of a company responsible for anti-money laundering checks on Russian cash
- How a UK company exploited an anti-tax avoidance law to actually save itself tax
- Private equity firm Blackstone avoided tens of millions of pounds in UK taxes on property deals in Glasgow and London
- Billionaire Dermot Desmond’s exclusive private jet company used an offshore tax haven to avoid taxes
More and more will come out of these papers over time, but it’s not hard to believe that there will be long-ranging implications and impact to a lot of people and organizations. What with the sexual harassments and the contents of these leaks, 2017 is looking to be a rough one for quite a lot of people we read about in the checkout aisle.
Give Vice’s piece of the Paradise Papers a watch. It’s quite good.
Follow Jeff Sorensen on TWITTER
Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.