Some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people will be waking up on Monday to discover that some of their best kept secrets—how they hide their vast wealth and avoid paying taxes—are now being read about in newspapers across the world after the release of a trove of offshore legal and banking documents were leaked to journalists and published Sunday as a joint project called the ‘Paradise Papers.‘
“There is this small group of people who are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of us, and that’s on purpose,” said author and financial expert Brooke Harrington in response to the new insights about how these elites secretly manage their wealth.
As the ICIJ reports, the “trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.” According to the ICIJ, the documents
According to a summary by the Guardian, the ‘Paradise Papers’ reveal:
*Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund – and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.
*Extensive offshore dealings by Donald Trump’s cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.
*How Twitter and Facebook received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions.
*The tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s chief moneyman.
*Aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.
Speaking with the Guardian, economist Gabriel Zucman—who is releasing a study later this week about the interplay between tax havens and global inequality—says the two are intricately linked.
“Tax havens are one of the key engines of the rise in global inequality,” he said. “As inequality rises, offshore tax evasion is becoming an elite sport.”
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