Monday, November 6, 2017

The “Paradise Papers”

A new batch of documents is being leaked via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The Economist correctly notes:
[T]he ICIJ and its 95 media partners around the world—including the BBC and the New York Times—are back with another cache of pilfered files, this time dubbed the “Paradise Papers”. This latest batch of revelations, the organisation’s sixth substantial leak investigation, began on
November 6th and will be rolled out over a week. It shines light on offshore transactions linked to hundreds of wealthy clients of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm. These include politicians (Wilbur Ross, America’s commerce secretary, pictured), entertainers (U2’s Bono) and even royalty (arise, Queen Elizabeth).

The ICIJ promises a spectacular. As the first articles went out, the consortium’s director, Gerard Ryle, wrote: “Each [ICIJ] project, in turn, has generally involved more documents, more journalists and bigger revelations. And each, in turn, has prompted new levels of outrage.” Judging from the first day’s output, however, the Paradise Papers may fall well short of their Panamanian predecessor.

The articles are based on 13.4m documents initially leaked to Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), a German daily newspaper that was also the recipient of the Panama Papers leak. Just over half of these files come from Appleby and a service provider called Estera that used to be part of its stable. Around 6m are from the corporate registries of the Bahamas, Malta and other offshore centres. A much smaller number were plucked from the database of a Singaporean trust company. As with the Panama Papers, the SZ refuses to reveal its source or sources.
 U2 frontman Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, was shown to have used a company based in Malta - a low tax jurisdiction - to pay for a share in a shopping centre in Lithuania, ,according to The Telegraph.  AND Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump's Commerce Secretary, has a stake in a shipping company that does business with a gas production firm part owned by Vladimir Putin's son-in-law.

 Ross, 79, a billionaire former private equity titan, has a stake in Navigator Holdings Ltd, which is incorporated in the Marshall Islands and has received more than $68 million in revenue since 2014 from dealings with Sibur, a Russian gas and petrochemicals company part owned by Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova.

A Commerce Department spokesman said Ross - who has the "highest ethical standards" - never met Shamalov, and that he has generally been supportive of US sanctions against Russia.


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