The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens

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PostThe Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by KK » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:22 pm

BBC News wrote:A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.

Donald Trump's commerce secretary is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.

The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance.

BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers.

As with last year's Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation.

Sunday's revelations form only a small part of a week of disclosures that will expose the tax and financial affairs of some of the hundreds of people and companies named in the data, some with strong UK connections.

Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.

The vast majority of the transactions involve no legal wrongdoing.

Other key stories being released on Sunday are:

  • 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, who has campaigned to shut tax havens
  • Lord Ashcroft, a former Conservative party deputy chairman and a significant donor, may have ignored rules around how his offshore investments were managed. Other papers suggest he retained his non-dom status while in the House of Lords, despite reports he had become a permanent tax resident in the UK
  • How questions were raised about the funding of a major shareholding in Everton FC

The other media partners may be covering different stories affecting their regions.

How is the Queen involved?

The Paradise Papers show that about £10m ($13m) of the Queen's private money was invested offshore.

It was put into funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda by the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the Queen with an income and handles investments for her £500m private estate.

There is nothing illegal in the investments and no suggestion that the Queen is not paying tax, but questions may be asked about whether the monarch should be investing in offshore finance.

There were small investments in the rent-to-buy retailer BrightHouse, which has been accused of exploiting the poor, and the Threshers chain of off-licences, which later went bust owing £17.5m in tax and costing almost 6,000 people their jobs.

The Duchy said it was not involved in decisions made by funds and there is no suggestion the Queen had any knowledge of the specific investments made on her behalf.

The Duchy has in the past said it gives "ongoing consideration regarding any of its acts or omissions that could adversely impact the reputation" of the Queen, who it says takes "a keen interest" in the estate.

Embarrassment for Ross and Trump?

Wilbur Ross helped stave off bankruptcy for Donald Trump in the 1990s and was later appointed commerce secretary in Mr Trump's administration.

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The documents reveal Mr Ross has retained an interest in a shipping company which earns millions of dollars a year transporting oil and gas for a Russian energy firm whose shareholders include Vladimir Putin's son-in-law and two men subject to US sanctions.

It will again raise questions about the Russian connections of Donald Trump's team. His presidency has been dogged by allegations that Russians colluded to try to influence the outcome of last year's US election. He has called the allegations "fake news".

Where does the leak come from?

Most of the data comes from a company called Appleby, a Bermuda-based legal services provider at the top end of the offshore industry, helping clients set up in overseas jurisdictions with low or zero tax rates.

Its documents, and others mainly from corporate registries in Caribbean jurisdictions, were obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung. It has not revealed the source.

The media partners say the investigation is in the public interest because data leaks from the world of offshore have repeatedly exposed wrongdoing.

In response to the leaks, Appleby said it was "satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients", adding:

"We do not tolerate illegal behaviour."

What exactly is offshore finance?

Essentially it's about a place outside of your own nation's regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money, assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes.

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These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman, or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable, secretive and reliable, often small islands but not exclusively so, and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing.

The UK is a big player here, not simply because so many of its overseas territories and Crown dependencies are OFCs, but many of the lawyers, accountants and bankers working in the offshore industry are in the City of London.

It's also about the mega-rich. Brooke Harrington, author of Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent, says offshore finance is not for the 1% but the .001%. Assets of around $500,000 (£380,000) would just not meet the offshore fees the schemes would need, she says.

What is the effect on us and should we care?

Well, it is a lot of cash. The Boston Consulting Group says $10tn is held offshore. That's about the equivalent of the gross domestic products of the UK, Japan and France - combined. It may also be a conservative estimate.

Critics of offshore say it is mainly about secrecy - which opens the door to wrongdoing - and inequality. They also say the action of governments to curb it has often been slow and ineffective.

Brooke Harrington says if the rich are avoiding tax, the poor pick up the bill: "There's a minimal amount the governments need to function and they recoup what they lose from the rich and from corporations by taking it out of our hides."

Meg Hillier, UK Labour MP and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, told Panorama: "We need to see what's going offshore; if offshore was not secret then some of this stuff just couldn't happen... we need transparency and we need sunlight shone on this."

What is the defence of offshore?

The offshore financial centres say that if they did not exist, there would be no constraint on taxes governments might levy. They say they do not sit on hoards of cash, but act as agents that help pump money around the globe.

Bob Richards, who was Bermuda's finance minister when Panorama interviewed him for its programme, said it was not up to him to collect other nations' taxes and that they should sort themselves out.

Both he and Howard Quayle, the chief minister for the Isle of Man, who was also interviewed for Panorama and whose Crown dependency plays a big part in the leaks, denied their jurisdictions could even be considered tax havens as they were well regulated and fully conformed to international financial reporting rules.

Appleby itself has in the past said OFCs "protect people victimised by crime, corruption, or persecution by shielding them from venal governments".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41876942

Makes the bit of tax dodging by Jimmy Carr seem insignificant by comparison, huh.

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Lagamorph
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How The ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Lagamorph » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:25 pm

I really dislike any money of the Queens being described as private/personal. Any extra cash she has after the ridiculous living expenses should go right back where they came from, the public purse.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by BID0 » Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:34 pm

No wonder she doesn't have any money to hand for painting her bedroom

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Garth » Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:09 pm

Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments through Kushner associate
Institutions with close links to Kremlin financed stakes through business associate of Trump’s son-in-law, leaked files reveal

Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.

The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.

The discovery is likely to stir concerns over Russian influence in US politics and the role played by social media in last year’s presidential election. It may also raise new questions for the social media companies and for Kushner.

Alexander Vershbow, who was a US ambassador to Russia under George W Bush and to Nato under Bill Clinton, said the Russian state institutions were frequently used as “tools for Putin’s pet political projects”.

Vershbow said the findings were concerning in light of efforts by Moscow to disrupt US democracy and public debate. “There clearly was a wider plan, despite Putin’s protestations to the contrary,” he said.

The investments are detailed in the Paradise Papers, a trove of millions of leaked documents reviewed by the Guardian, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other partners, along with other previously unreported filings.

Facebook and Twitter were not made aware that funding for the investments came from the state-controlled VTB Bank and a financial arm of the state oil and gas firm Gazprom, according to Milner. A spokesman for Kushner declined to comment.

The files show that in 2011, VTB funded a $191m investment in Twitter. About the same time, Gazprom Investholding financed an opaque offshore company, which in turn funded a vehicle that held $1bn-worth of Facebook shares.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/n ... -associate

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Lagamorph » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:19 pm


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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by satriales » Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:26 pm

Previous leaks have already shown how big an issue this is and that there are £10s of billions in unpaid taxes to be recovered, yet the Tories are cutting a further £200M from an already underfunded HMRC so that they have no means of investigating or recovering these taxes. Not surprising when a lot of these companies are run by Tory donors.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Lotus » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:07 pm

Can't wait for nothing whatsoever to come of this.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Squinty » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:13 pm

Lotus wrote:Can't wait for nothing whatsoever to come of this.


Yep.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Lagamorph » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:41 pm




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Meep
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Meep » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:02 pm

I think their tactic is to make it mind numbing complicated enough that the most people just tune out whenever details are released. It works.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Qikz » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:16 am



I wouldn't really call this a secret, anyone with a brain knows they do this already.

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Saint of Killers
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Saint of Killers » Mon Nov 06, 2017 7:26 am

Lord Ashcroft used offshore trust to shelter wealth while Tory peer

Brexiter caught up in 2010 row over ‘non-dom’ status has trust in Bermuda, putting Theresa May in awkward position

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/n ... ise-papers


I hope to hear of this strawberry floater getting it in the neck, on the news.

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S: Neither was the last one. It was a robbery. M: Really? S: Yeah. She stole my heart. And my crown. (❍ᴥ❍ʋ)
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KK
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by KK » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:56 am


SANCTIMONIOUS TOSSPOT.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Moggy » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:58 am

KK wrote:
SANCTIMONIOUS TOSSPOT.


Maybe he uses the tax free income to give to charity? :slol:

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Lagamorph
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Lagamorph » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:03 am

Any celebrity who tells me that I need to be giving more to charity whilst they live a luxury lifestyle can just strawberry float right off no matter what offshore tax arrangements they have.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by OrangeRakoon » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:40 am

Meep wrote:I think their tactic is to make it mind numbing complicated enough that the most people just tune out whenever details are released. It works.


Depressingly accurate

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captain red dog
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by captain red dog » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:01 am

Like before, it's not illegal so I have no issue with these people legally minimising the amount of tax they pay. People can moan about morality all they want but this should be an easy fix. They don't seem to have any problems rushing through legislation to change welfare benefits, so I don't buy any argument that it is too difficult to prevent offshore tax avoidance.

As for Bono, he's a massive bell end at the best of times.

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Blue Eyes
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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Blue Eyes » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:42 pm

Corbyn suggested that the Queen should apologise, responding to the question with:

Anyone that is putting money into tax havens in order to avoid taxation in Britain, and obviously investigations have to take place, should do two things: not just apologise for it but also recognise what it does to our society, because if a very wealthy person wants to avoid taxation in Britain and therefore put money into a tax haven somewhere, who loses? Schools, hospitals, housing, all those public services lose and the rest of the population have to pay to cover up the deficit created by that ...

We simply have to challenge the culture that there is something clever about avoiding taxation. Taxation is what gives us ambulances, gives us fire tenders, gives us safety in our lives and we all have a responsibility to pay for it.

We are undermined by this kind of evasion. It must stop.


Then this happened:

Jeremy Corbyn’s office is rowing back from the Labour leader’s suggestion that the Queen should apologise after the papers revealed that part of her wealth is being invested offshore.

A Corbyn spokesman said: “Jeremy did not call for the Queen to apologise, but said anyone who puts money into a tax haven to avoid paying tax should, and that they should recognise the damage done by avoidance to society.”


Er, so yes he strawberry floating did call for the Queen to apologise. strawberry float off you mealy-mouthed banana splits.

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by Karl » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:49 pm

I mean, the question is really loaded there. "I think people who dodge paying tax should think about the consequences and apologise." "EVEN OUR BELOVED QUEEN WHO YOU HATE LIKE YOU HATE THE ABSTRACT CONCEPT OF BRITAIN???" "...err, anyone who dodges tax should apologise..."

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PostRe: The Paradise Papers Exposed: How the ultra wealthy secretly invest in offshore tax havens
by KK » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:53 pm

This is a worldwide problem that requires a worldwide solution, or a mass protest (or a "movement" as Jezza seemingly likes to call it) the likes we've never seen before. Even with all this going on, the UK has one of the lowest tax gaps in the world I believe, and yet it's still enormous.

The services that could be provided to countries with far more lousy infrastructure than the UK is immense.

If you're a lowly millionaire then fair enough, but these multimillionaire and billionaires...just what on earth are they doing with all this stored wealth. It's basically doing nothing (hello Apple).

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