Leaked documents have again exposed how the ultra-rich stash their millions in offshore tax havens.
Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leak is the result of a hacking campaign that we reported on last week targeting Appleby, a firm based in Bermuda and with offices in other tax havens.
As with last year’s infamous Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to lead the investigation. Nearly 100 media groups globally are examining the documents, said to total 13.4m.
Like the Panama Papers, the current leak could potentially cause significant political and financial fallout. The British media is reporting that the Queen’s private estate has funds invested in various offshore accounts. Other records reveal that US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross maintains a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.
The revelations are just the opening salvo in what is expected to be a week of disclosures expected to expose the tax and financial affairs of hundreds of powerful and wealthy people.
Many of the stories will 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.
It’s worth noting that the vast majority of the transactions involve no legal wrongdoing. Appleby, the firm at the centre of the hack, has denied any wrongdoing.