​ The Paradise Papers – Secrets of the Global Elite

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has recently leaked 13.4m documents from Appleby offshore law firm (Bermuda), Asiaciti Trust (family owned trust co.) and Co registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions.

The Paradise Papers include: nearly 7m documents including loan agreements, financial statements, e-mails, trust deeds and other financial records from the last 50 years.

The yearlong investigation exposes offshore interests of more than 120 politicians and world wide leaders including US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Russian investments, 12 other Trump allies, Queen Elizabeth II UK, Former British Prime Minister Father, Ian Cameron (son David), members of British Parliament, Presidents and Prime Ministers (and families worldwide).

Also named were Rex Tillerson US Secy of State, three former Canadian Prime Ministers (Chretien, Martin and Mulroney), Former Prime Minister of Japan (Hatoyama), Argentina President (Macri) and former Presidents (husband and wife, Kircheners), President of Colombia (Santos), Queen Noor of Jordan, Putin friends and family, the President of Ukraine (Poroshenko) and the King and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

Over 31,000 US Taxpayers (US citizens, tax residents and companies) were also named as compared to the Panama Papers which named less than 5000 US persons/taxpayers.

The Paradise Papers disclose how major US companies Apple, Nike, and Allergan of 100 multi-national US companies used “offshore tax engineering” by “tax havens” in Mauritius and Singapore that used shell companies to reduce taxes. It also disclosed how owners of jets and yachts, including royalty, celebrities and sports stars used Isle of Man tax avoidance schemes.

The Paradise Papers reveal the following:

Russia Kremlin owned firms made major investments in US social media companies: Twitter and Facebook via Yuri Millner who had major ties to two Russian Government owned firms known as Kremlin investment vehicles:

1) VTB Bank directed $191m into an investment fund and used the funds to buy a stake in Twitter; and 2) Gazprom heavily funded an off-shore company that partnered with DST Global in a large Facebook investment.

In the case of Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce, he apparently has an undisclosed investment (never disclosed to US Senate during confirmation hearing) in Navigator Holdings, a shipping firm that receives milliions of dollars from a company owned by close relatives of Putin.

The key owners of Navigator include: Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov (married to Putin’s younger daughter) and Gennady Timchenko, who is a sanctioned oligarch whose energy sector activities were disclosed by the US Treasury Dept to be directly linked to Putin.

Ross divested many of his holdings before joining Trump’s cabinet in 2/17 but he kept ownership in 9 offshore entities which owned interests in Navigator (which is incorporated in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific). Ross may have a major conflict of interest since as US Commerce Secretary he plays a major role in US economic relationships with other countries including Russia.

Ross used up to 9 Cayman Island companies to conceal ownership interest in Navigator which since 2014 has been paid $68m by Russian company Sibur (which transfers Russian oil and gas to Europe). Two of the major Sibur shareholders are under US sanctions: Gennady Timchenko who has 12 Paradise Papers companies listed and Leonid Mikhelson whose main company, Novatek, is also under sanctions. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov has a 3.9% ownership interest in Navigator while the Ross companies total interest in Navigator is 31% (unclear as to Ross share).

Ross has known Donald Trump for over 25 years when he worked with Trump to pre-package his Atlantic City casino bankruptcies (while Ross was a member of Wall Street investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs).

Over the last 25 years they have maintained a close relationship which resulted in Ross being appointed US Commerce Secretary. It is not known how Ross became a Trump cabinet member while at the same time investing in the same company (Navigator) as Putin’s son-in-law which received millions of dollars annually from Sibur a major Russian company. It is also not known why Ross did not disclose his investment relationship with Russia at the time of his Senate confirmation since as the US Secy of Commerce he oversees US commerce activities with Russia, which appears to be a major conflict of interest.

The ICIJ plans daily further disclosures so stay tuned.

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