Once again, journalists worldwide have cooperated to investigate the offshore tax havens that the rich and powerful use to hide their earnings from the tax man. Amongst those in focus in the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ are Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, the inner circle of Canadian Prime Minister Mr Justin Trudeau, Mr Wilbur Ross (US Commerce Secretary), Bono (singer of rock band U2) and Madonna.
The Paradise Papers originate from 13 million documents from an offshore law firm called Appleby.
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They have been obtained by the German newspaper SudDeutscheZeitung and together with reporters from the Guardian and the BBC they were read and investigated.
According to the first estimates, the amounts involved are some $10 trillion.
Whereas yesterday the reporters started with naming the famous and wealthy who had done shady deals, as from today they started focusing on companies.
For example, after Apple was summoned by the European Commission to give information about the tax rate it received by placing it’s European HQ in Ireland in 2013, it moved a massive $252bn of untaxed offshore cash to the tiny island of Jersey, located between the UK and France.
When asked for a reaction, Apple said the new structure had not lowered its taxes.
However in 2016, the European Commission fined Apple $15bn dollar for tax evasion, and with this new knowledge of tax avoidance through shifting it to an offshore have, that could very well increase.
Needless to say, just as with the Panama Papers investigation, which was based on documents (obtained via a middleman) from the Panama law firm of Mossack Fonseca, the Paradise papers are quite embarrassing for law firm Appleby, which have reacted to the world’s attention with the following statement: “These inquiries have arisen from documents that journalists claim to have seen and involve allegations made against our business and the business conducted by some of our clients. We take any allegation of wrongdoing, implicit or otherwise, extremely seriously.”
“Appleby operates in highly regulated jurisdictions and like all professional organisations in our regions, we are subject to frequent regulatory checks and we are committed to achieving the high standards set by our regulators. We are also committed to the highest standards of client service and confidentiality. It is what we stand for. This commitment is unequivocal.“
To be continued, we are sure.