A huge leak of financial documents, which have been dubbed as the ‘Paradise Papers’, has revealed that numerous powerful and ultra-wealthy worldwide personalities secretly invested vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens. Today’s revelations are only the start of a week of disclosures that will expose the tax and financial affairs of those named in the data. Over 13.4 million files have been unveiled which affect more than 25.000 companies owned by individuals from 180 countries, from 1950 to 2016.
The documents were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which also exposed the ‘Panama Papers’ in 2015, and later shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) so as to oversee the investigation. About a hunded of major international media partners – including The New York Times, The Guardian or the BBC – were also involved in investigating the documents.
Those affected by the scandal include politicians, companies and celebrities. Nike and Apple are amongst those multinationals to have hidden big quantities of money in offshore tax havens. The Queen of England has also been involved, with documents showing that about £10m ($13m) of the Monarch’s private money was invested elsewhere.
The leak could also prove links between Trump and Russian investors, which could again raise questions on the connections between the American President and the Kremlin. This is because Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary of the Trump Administration and a man who helped stave off bankruptcy for Donald Trump in the 1990s, has now been found to have invested in a shipping company which earns millions of dollars a year transporting oil and gas for a Russian energy firm whose shareholders include Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law.