In what is among the most controversial document leaks in recent times, a treasure-trove of 13.4 million documents have exposed ties between U.S. President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and a Kremlin-linked firm in Russia. Among other revelations from the leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, are the wealth accumulations across the world by powerful politicians, church officials and corporate giants like Apple, Uber and Nike.
According to the Paradise Papers, Navigator Holdings, a shipping company in which Ross has a stake, has received nearly $70 million from a Russian energy company called Sibur that is co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and has known ties to the Kremlin.
The leaked document bonanza, obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, contains files from tax havens that are used by governments, corporations and the extremely wealthy of the world. They are sourced from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments of these waystations, as well as two offshore service companies.
These tax havens typically help operate “shell” companies that have no physical assets or employees. Such companies are almost impossible to trace back to their actual owners. This shadow economy drains billions upon billions of dollars from national economies and serves only to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Among the leaks are decades of corporate records from Appleby, an offshore law firm, and Estera, a corporate services provider. The two entities reportedly operated under the Appleby name until 2016, when Estera became independent. These records show that there are at least 31,000 clients, both corporate and individual, who have addresses or citizenships in the United States. Other sources of Appleby’s business are clients from the UK, China and Canada.
Appleby has protected its reputation for a century now, using extreme discretion as well as various types of client monitoring. It is a member of the well-known “Offshore Magic Circle” of offshore law firms that specialize in such corporate and individual wealth services.
Appleby is now standing its ground and has issued an online statement to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that it is “satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing.” The firm also stated that it is “subject to frequent regulatory checks, and we are committed to achieving the high standards set by our regulators.”
For a more detailed report on the various revelations of the Paradise Papers, please visit the ICIJ website, where the original story was reported.
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