What are the Paradise Papers? They’re 13.4 million documents, largely from the Bermudan law firm Appleby, which assists corporations and an ultra-wealthy clientele set up offshore tax havens. The papers leaked to a pair of German journalists, who shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, more than 400 reporters from 67 countries. Months of scouring the papers have led to some eye-opening findings.
A Russian bank linked to Putin has investments in Facebook and Twitter
Yuri Milner, a prominent Silicon Valley investor who has holdings in Facebook and Twitter, has hundreds of millions of dollars in Kremlin funding, the New York Times reports. His Twitter investment was backed by VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank. One of his clients invested in Facebook with money from Gazprom, another state-controlled financial institution.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to Putin
“Billionaire Wilbur Ross makes money from business with Russia. That he sits in the Trump’s cabinet does not appear to change that, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. Ross holds shares in an ocean-freight company called Navigator, which has done $68 million in business with a Russian energy group since 2014. Among the owners of that energy group: Putin allies Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko (whose businesses are sanctioned by the U.S. government) and Kirill Shamalov, Putin’s son-in-law.
Celebrities and politicians have offshore tax avoidance schemes
Celebrities including Bono and Madonna — and even Queen Elizabeth — have billions of dollars stashed in offshore funds to avoid taxes, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. More than 120 politicians from 47 countries have similar setups.
Apple has a tax dodge
Apple has shifted much of its earnings to an island in the English Channel to avoid taxes, the Times reports. Because of complex offshore setups, much of Apple’s $128 billion in profits are shielded from taxes. Other companies who have similar tax dodges via shell companies include Apple, Uber and Facebook.
Seven Republican megadonors have money in tax havens
Forbes estimates their combined fortune at $142 billion. They don’t all love Donald Trump, but they’re fans of avoiding taxes, the Guardian reports. Geoff Palmer, one of Trump’s biggest backers, has an offshore company in Bermuda, while billionaire Warren Stephens, a major funder of the Stop Trump movement, was revealed to be a secret co-owner of a payday loan company that’s being sued for $50 million for predatory lending tactics. The papers also revealed that Charles and David Koch relocated millions of dollars in profits from their new acquisition Georgia-Pacific to low-tax environments in Luxembourg and Bermuda.