Big news this morning if you’re a fan of knowing how the world’s uber-rich hide their gold. A massive leak of 13.4 million files from several offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens has revealed quite a lot about how global elites avoid paying their fair due and hide their less savoury investments. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in conjunction with number of news outlets has turned up stacks of info from the leak, which is being called the Paradise Papers.
It’s the second biggest leak ever after the Panama Papers, which you might remember set off a brief firestorm of repercussions. There’s a shitload to dig through, and every media organisation with the scoop (including our very own ABC News) is posting lots of stories, so I’ll give you the rundown of some key points:
- In news that will surely annoy Donald Trump in the midst of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, it turns out his commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has been doing business with Vladimir Putin‘s son-in-law. They’re linked via a shipping company named Navigator, which does big business with Sibur, a gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov. Turns out Ross – a billionaire himself – kept this investment even after being named commerce secretary.
- The above bombshell comes with the somewhat less surprising news that Trump’s cabinet is packed with very rich men who are harbouring large investments in tax havens. They include Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson, Steven Mnuchin and Jon Huntsman. No great surprise, but perhaps a little on-the-nose to the working class base Trump energised by saying he’d “drain the swamp”.
- Queen Elizabeth has been dumping millions of pounds into a fund in the Cayman Islands. The offshore fund is invested via the Duchy of Lancaster, and has never been revealed before. This will likely ignite calls for more scrutiny on royal spending.
- A little closer to home, Four Corners is reporting that a number of multinationals are being investigated by the ATO for using Bermuda tax havens to restructure their Aussie debts. 19 companies have faced action for this, and 13 are under review.
- Two Russian billionaires used a mind-bogglingly complex web of financial instruments and tax havens in order to dodge the rules and buy stakes in the Arsenal and Everton football clubs.
- Another dark mark on the reputation of dreamy politics boy Justin Trudeau. Turns out his top moneyman Stephen Bronfman, who was key in Trudeau’s rise, was involved in moving lots of Canadian money into offshore havens.
- You may be shocked to learn that a lot of American multinationals are doing everything they can to avoid paying their fair share of tax. I know, it’s difficult to imagine. I’ll give you a moment to recover.
That’s about the long and short of it. Head over to The Guardian if you want to read a bit more – they’ve got more detailed breakdowns of the big revelations in the Paradise Papers.
No doubt there will be more info to emerge, and it’s pretty damn clear that there’ll be some stirring of repercussions over some of the things in this leak. I seriously doubt the Paradise Papers have much of an impact on how the world’s elite manage their money, though. But a man can dream.