Paradise Papers: Detailed private jet and yacht allegations due Monday
The International Consortium of Investigate Journalists (ICIJ) and 95 media partners have started publishing stories relating to the data breach at Appleby, the leading offshore law firm. It is calling the leaks The Paradise Papers.
Together they have reviewed more than 13.4 million leaked files that were first obtained by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper.
The ICIJ says that the files include more than seven million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork going back 50 years. They also involve files from Asiaciti, a smaller family trust company.
“ICIJ and its media partners will be publishing multiple stories in the coming days and weeks, including: on Monday afternoon, stories on strategies used by multinational corporations to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions; and a look into the world of private jets and yachts registered by wealthy owners in offshore tax havens,” says the organisation.
It says that the Paradise Papers: “Provides details of how owners of jets and yachts, including royalty and sports stars, used Isle of Man tax-avoidance structures.”
More than 380 journalists worldwide have been working on the investigation since the data leak in December last year.
Paradise Paper business jet stories so far
France Television is the first to cover VAT on the importation of business jets. It focuses on a transaction for Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One world champion.
In an article titled The wealthy men in Trump’s inner circle with links to tax havens The Guardian mentions transactions by CIT Bank, the former employer of Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary.
The Guardian says: “CIT Bank, where Mnuchin was deputy chairman, provided customers with financing structures for personal aircraft priced at tens of millions of dollars, which customers used to legally avoid sales taxes and other charges. One leaked file from October 2015 shows CIT billing an Isle of Man company $430,993 for an installment on a $30m Dassault Falcon 2000EX jet.”
It notes that the transaction took place in 2012, before Mnuchin joined the bank and that CIT no longer offers business jet finance.
Israel’s Haaretz says that: “Appleby is a link in a chain that helps sports stars, Russian tycoons and government officials to buy private jets, yachts and other toys. Experts in the tax shelters helped Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, two Russian billionaires and childhood friends of Putin, to buy executive jets worth more than $20 million in 2013. The following year, America put the brothers on a blacklist because of their support for Putin pet projects, and their work with the Russian government. Appleby ended its relationship with the brothers. The Rotenbergs declined to comment to Zeitung.”
The Irish Times reports on US secretary of state Wilbur Ross’s relations with Russian oil companies – including Leonid Mikhelson founder of Novatek, the Russian energy company.
The newspaper says: “In 2014, Appleby dropped Mr Mikhelson as a client, declining to manage a company for his private jet because of the sanctions against his businesses, according to the leaked records.”