Details of Paradise Papers: What we learned from new offshore compromising data?

Author : Oleksandr Illyushchenkov

Source :

Who among the Ukrainian politicians and officials have money in offshore, what is in common between the U2 soloist Bono and Lithuania, the new evidence of links between Trump's entourage and Russia and other details of the Paradise Papers
21:13, 6 November 2017

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Yesterday's publication of millions of documents regarding financial affairs of many world politicians, businessmen and celebrities has become a kind of second part of the blockbuster on exposing the "offshore" affairs of the powerful people.

The first part was released in April last year. Then the so-called "Panama archive" was published - a collection of documents on offshore schemes of a little-known company from Panama named Mossack Fonseca.

After more than a year and a half, the world saw the publication of another leak of off-shore discrediting materials, which was named Paradise Papers.

The publication appeared on Sunday, November 5. Hundreds of journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Center for the Investigation of Corruption and Organized Crime (OCCRP) simultaneously published their own investigations, which enabled them to obtain new data on the financial affairs of many famous personalities and companies.

Now let’s talk about the most interesting details that have already been found in the new documents, as well as on frequently asked questions that will allow us to better understand the new "offshore".

Why Paradise Papers?

The name "Paradise papers ", was chosen because of the registration of many firms that appear in the documents. In particular, Bermuda and Cayman Islands appear among the registration sites.

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Where did the leak originate from?

The situation in many respects is similar to the situation with publication of the Panama Archives. An unknown source gave data on offshores to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which it shared with a consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ).

Consortium, in turn, brought to the investigation 382 journalists from 96 media and 67 countries.

The difference is that this time the leakage of most of the information came from the respectable law firm Appleby from Bermuda.

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According to one of the participants in the investigation, Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Hnap, Appleby is considered respectable in the world of offshore law and, unlike Mossack Fonseca, "did not provide its services to everyone." It was founded in 1898.

And now details about what and whom it was possible to learn.

Ukrainians in the offshore

Ukrainian officials and politicians traditionally appear in such investigations. This time, the top manager of Naftogaz, Serhiy Alekseyenko, was separately noted. According to published data, an offshore company was established for him on the Isle of Man to withdraw currency abroad, despite the currency restrictions that operated in Ukraine.

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The documents mention the offshore scheme of former comrade-in-arms of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was previously called one of the "gray cardinals" of Ukrainian politics, Anton Prygodsky.

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As Hromadske writes, it is about buying a 37-meter yacht Santa Maria worth 13 million euros through an offshore company in Malta.

Also in the materials were disclosed new details of the transfer of Roshen Corporation which belongs to Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko to the "blind" trust.

In particular, journalists question Poroshenko's words that the main purpose of restructuring the company was to sell the corporation, rather than tax optimization.

New problems of Trump

Paradise Papers revealed details about 13 people from the entourage of US President Donald Trump, who lead or conducted business through offshore.

The key story was the case of the current US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, who, according to the documents, has a stake in the holding cooperating with Russia.

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This is the transport company Navigator Holdings, which in turn cooperates with the Russian Sibur company. For your understanding: among the shareholders of Sibur are an old friend of Putin Gennady Timchenko and the alleged son-in-law Kirill Shamalov.

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In addition to Ross, connections with offshore companies were found in regard to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who for ten years owned an offshore company that was engaged in the development of oil and gas in Yemen.

Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has 20 offshore companies affiliated with Goldman Sachs.

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The relationship with offshore companies was also found in regard to vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Supervisory Board, Randal Quarles, as well as with several other advisors - Thomas Barrack Jr. and Carl Icahn.

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Russian investments in Twitter and Facebook

One of the serious investors in Twitter and Facebook, DST Global fund of Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, according to published documents, is connected with two Russian state-owned companies - Gazprom and VTB Bank.

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For example, the investigation indicated that VTB Bank "secretly transferred $ 191 million to DST Global, which was used to purchase a large stake in Twitter in 2011."

In turn, Gazprom " financed an offshore company that collaborated with DST Global on large investments in Facebook."

It is also specified that the share in Facebook through offshore was bought by one of the Kremlin oligarchs Alisher Usmanov.

Queen Elizabeth and offshore

The documents published among Paradise Papers indicate that the Queen of Great Britain, Elizabeth II, invested about 10 million pounds in offshore. Journalists note that there is nothing illegal in these investments, as there is no evidence that the queen does not pay taxes, but allow a discussion about whether the monarch should be connected with offshore companies.

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Also, according to published materials, adviser to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau Stephen Bronfman was involved in working with offshore companies.

A little bit about stars and football

The connections with offshore companies were found in regard to such stars as Madonna, U2 soloist Bono and actress Keira Knightley.

So, according to the documents, Bono was a co-owner of shopping center in the Lithuanian city of Utena, having previously invested in the Nude Estates company, located in Malta.

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Madonna invested in a medical center, and Kira Knightley - in a real estate company.

After the publication of documents, questions arose regarding the financing of the main stake in Everton football club and the possible violation of the rules during its sale.

The documents suggest that the share of the ex-owner of Farhad Moshiri's club was financed by a "gift" from businessman Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30% of the shares in London's Arsenal.

Some conclusions

As for now there are two of them:

The level of compromising material at the moment looks weaker than in the case of Panama papers, although there are some interesting details on the entourage of Trump.

The scale of work with offshore companies around the world is estimated at trillions. So, according to calculations, Paradise papers show that oligarchs from all over the world moved 7.9 trillion euros to offshore. Just think about that figure.

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