Like the Panama Papers before it, the new Paradise Papers leak has shed light on the shady financial dealings of the very wealthy who opt to hide their trillions of dollars in offshore accounts in order to keep the money out of the hands of the taxman.
In a bombshell report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the contents of a staggering 13.4 million documents have been analyzed to expose how the mega-rich use offshore havens to lower their tax burden.
At the heart of the Paradise Papers is the Bermudan law firm Appleby, which was established in the 19th century and boasts an exclusive clientele of big-wigs who want to lower their tax burden, the New York Times reported. To do so, the law firm sets up shell companies and offshore trusts to misdirect tax collectors and keep money in the coffers of the rich.
The Paradise Papers leak sprang from the work of the same reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung who broke the Panama Papers story. While many of those who were exposed for using offshore tax havens got off with a proverbial slap on the wrist, the story forced Iceland’s prime minister to resign and prompted some countries to adopt sterner measures to repatriate the hidden cash.
Inside the Paradise Papers leak are documents dating from 1950 to 2016 that mostly detail the financial dealings of wealthy Americans, but several notable figures from across the world have already been implicated. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, several key figures in the Trump administration, U2 frontman Bono, pop star Madonna, and actress Keira Knightley have all had details of their international investments leaked.
In a statement, Appleby maintained that it and its clients are completely innocent of any fishy behavior.
“Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients,” the company said.