Paradise Papers: 4 things you need to know about leaked documents

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A new set of information regarding offshore tax havens have been revealed. In one of the biggest information leaks in history, more than 13 million files pertaining to wealth stored in offshore tax havens has revealed information on tens of thousands of the world’s wealthiest companies and people have been revealed.

Here are the 5 things you need to know about the Paradise Papers

The size

The Paradise papers is the second largest database of information ever leaked, topped only by 2016 Panama papers. The paradise papers cache contains 1.4 TB of information while the Panama papers contained 2.6 TB.

Who released them

The Paradise Papers were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ). They were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with almost 100 media partners around the world. The documents originally came from a company called Appleby, which specializes in processing offshore accounts for rich clients. Appleby is said to be part of the so-called ‘Magic circle’, a special group of firms specialised in offshore processing. It has outposts in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

What they reveal

According to Time, ‘the disclosure of the Paradise Papers sheds light on the complex structures the global elite use to obfuscate their financial dealings. While the use of offshore accounts is not in and of itself illegal, it is sometimes linked to money laundering and tax avoidance.”

The papers reveal where the wealthiest people in the world stash their cash and also creates several questions about why they would hide their money if the money was clean. Another revelation from the information provided by the papers is about how companies and individuals mask their investments with layers of channels, using investment vehicles. It is surprising that some entities thought to be without ties are actually doing business together.

About whom

The names in the Paradise papers are numerous and include some of the richest and most powerful people from several countries.

Queen Elizabeth of England is one of the global elite named. Over 11 million pounds of her private money is being kept in offshore accounts by the Duchy of Lancaster, which manages her private estate.

American technology firms, Facebook and Twitter have also being named. The Times reported that ‘Two Kremlin-linked companies have funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars into Facebook and Twitter through a business associate of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to the leaked documents.’

Also, in the United States, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross has been named. Guradian reports that substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law had been made to a shipping group owned by Ross.

In Nigeria, Senate President, Bukola Saraki is the only name to be discovered so far. We don’t know if more names come up as investigative journalists dig through tons of data.  Saraki’s company, Tenia Ltd. described in Appleby’s records as “a holding company,” was established in the Cayman Islands in 2001.The company’s listed address, 30 Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, was one of the properties investigated in 2016 during Saraki’s alleged false declaration of assets.

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