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Money Paradise Papers: What is the leak and who is behind the firm Appleby?

06:20  06 november  2017
06:20  06 november  2017 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Paradise Papers are the largest leak in history with more than 13.4 million files revealing the workings of the tax haven industry. So who is the law firm at the centre of the leak and what do the documents reveal?

Paradise Papers leaked - What are the Paradise Papers ? Who is named in the leaks ? Tax havens exposed. Q&A The Paradise Papers : What you want to know about the tax haven leak .

  Paradise Papers: What is the leak and who is behind the firm Appleby? © Four Corners The Paradise Papers are the largest leak in history with more than 13.4 million files revealing the workings of the tax haven industry.

Over half of those documents, 6.8 million, emanate from the offshore law firm, Appleby, but the leak also includes roughly half-a-million documents from the Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust and a further 6 million documents from corporate registries located in 19 tax havens.

The cache of documents reveals an industry designed to sell secrecy. It also offers rare insights into the complex offshore structures used by multinationals to minimise their tax bills.

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The Paradise Papers reveal offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II whose The leaked files from Appleby , the offshore law firm , include details of tax planning by nearly 100 multinational corporations, including Apple, Nike and Uber.

Revelations from the Paradise Papers , a leaked set of more than 13 million financial documents, have shed light on how the rich and famous channel funds The leaked information largely came from a hack against offshore legal firm Appleby . This was not the work of anybody who works at Appleby .

The leaks were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and over 90 media partners including Four Corners.

The files include emails, bank statements, court documents and client records covering a period of 66 years — from 1950 to 2016.

Who is in the data?

Royalty, rock stars and 120 politicians from around the world are exposed in the documents.

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The leak is a trove of 13.4 million files taken mostly from the offshore law firm , Appleby . 06 Nov 2017 12:56 GMT. Little more than a year after the "Panama Papers " leak , the " Paradise Papers " are shedding light on who is investing huge amounts of money in offshore tax havens.

These Are the Paradise Papers . The latest offshore data leak pries open the door on the wheeling Appleby was founded in Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. The building the law firm occupies there “There is this small group of people who are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of us, and

They are joined by oligarchs from Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The financial affairs of Queen Elizabeth II, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's key fundraiser and Russian tech investor Yuri Milner are revealed.

Closer to home, new details of Australian rock icon Michael Hutchence's long contested estate are uncovered in the data.

On the corporate front there are rare insights into the hidden offshore tax structures used by multinationals including Facebook and mining giant Glencore.

What is Appleby?

A photo of Reginald Appleby from the July 1944 edition of the Bermudian Magazine.© Bermudian Magazine A photo of Reginald Appleby from the July 1944 edition of the Bermudian Magazine. Founded in Bermuda — an island well known for its zero corporate tax rate and perhaps lesser known for its quirky corporate attire, the Bermuda shorts — Appleby sets up companies, trusts and other offshore entities for thousands of clients including high wealth individuals, international banks and accounting firms as well as multinational corporations.

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Most of the data leak came from Appleby , a Bermuda-based legal services provider, that facilitated setting up of offshore firms with low or Sinha, who founded the private secuirty firm SIS, expressed an inability to verbally respond to the press when asked about his name in the Paradise Papers leak .

What is Appleby ? A law firm that helps corporations, financial institutions and high-net-worth individuals set up and register companies in offshore jurisdictions. Who leaked the Paradise Papers ?

Appleby considers itself an industry leader proving to the world that the offshore industry can operate cleanly and ethically. Its pitch appears to be as a law firm for the rich and respectable.

The firm was founded in the 1890s by Major Reginald Appleby, a lawyer who detested paying tax. In 1979 the firm began its expansion into a global institution with over 700 employees, operating in notorious tax havens including the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man.

In a public statement anticipating the leak, Appleby maintained it is committed to high standards and said while the firm does not tolerate illegal behaviour, "we are not infallible."

Appleby's corporate services division became independent in 2016 and operates under the name Estera.

Where are the “secrecy jurisdictions”?

  Paradise Papers: What is the leak and who is behind the firm Appleby? © Four Corners The Tax Justice Network says the terms secrecy jurisdiction and tax haven are interchangeable. Broadly, they are places where the laws and systems offer legal and financial secrecy to others.

The network notes that these jurisdictions provide "facilities that enable people or entities escape [from the] laws, rules and regulations of other jurisdictions..."

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A data leak from Appleby , a law firm based in Bermuda, sheds light on the business and real estate empire of Nenad Popovic, a Serbian minister found to be worth at least US$ 100 million -- and possibly more. A look into various influential Hungarian businessmen who appear in the Paradise Papers .

The Paradise Papers comprise of 13.4 million files leaked from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens’ company registries. In the eye of the storm is a law firm called Appleby , which has branches in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man

Recent international agreements have made it easier for tax authorities to get information from tax havens, but it's still a battle.

Going offshore: Is this legal?

Yes. Multinationals may use tax havens to smooth the flow of capital between company operations split across multiple countries.

The problem is those tax havens can also be used for aggressive tax planning which enables individuals or large corporations to avoid paying tax or evade tax altogether.

The big attraction of tax havens is that they offer low or even zero corporate tax rates.

Avoiding tax is not illegal but it may be against the spirit of the law. However, evading tax is illegal. Beyond that, defining the differences is tricky. The Australian Tax Office has published a guide to tax crimes - warning perpetrators face criminal convictions, fines, and even prison sentences.

So why does this matter?

Bermuda is well known for its corporate tax rate of zero.© Four Corner/Sashka Koloff Bermuda is well known for its corporate tax rate of zero. The ATO estimated it was owed roughly $2.5 billion in missing tax revenue from large corporations and multinationals from the 2014-15 financial year. That's money that could be used to fund public services like hospitals, schools and transport.

The use of tax havens allows large corporations and multinationals to avoid tax in a way that is out of reach for the average worker.

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ICIJ published a letter from the whistleblower behind the Panama Papers in June, 2016, stating The Paradise Papers likely represent the promised future leak . The most detailed of these documents are comprised in 6.8 million records obtained from the international law firm Appleby , whose

The exposure of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s work helping the global elite hide money from the tax man, and the more recent leak of the “ Paradise Papers ” from firms Appleby and Estera in The documents connected the shell companies to the people who are actually behind them.

Critics say tax havens enable a two-tiered system where multinationals and high-wealth individuals can enjoy all the benefits of doing business within a stable law-based country like Australia but contribute little in return.

James Henry, from the Tax Justice Network, said the system was comparable to the dark days of a feudal society.

"You get a tiny group of people who are basically citizens of nowhere for tax purposes and yet are able to call in the benefits of society for defence, national security, all of the benefits of having a rule of law and courts that they take advantage of all the time to make their money and to pass it on."

How is this different to the Panama Papers?

The leak of the Panama Papers last year focused on the inner workings of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

In terms of the volume of documents, the Paradise Papers leak is the larger of the two. The Panama Papers leak contained just over 11 million files compared with the 13.4 million documents in the Paradise Papers.

While the Panama data exposed world leaders, Mexican drug lords and relatives of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, the Appleby leak relates to a mostly blue-chip client list including politicians, celebrities and multinationals.

Apple's secret tax bolthole revealed .
The US multinational has used a Channel Island to protect its low tax regime, the Paradise Papers show.They reveal how Apple sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax practices by actively shopping around for a tax haven.

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