Have Your Offshore Interests Been Leaked?

A new batch of stolen data from an offshore services provider has now been released. Dubbed the “Paradise Papers,” the leak consists of more than 13.4 million documents from Appleby’s, an international law firm based in Bermuda.

In many respects, this hacker attack was similar to the huge theft of 11.5 million client documents from the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca in 2016 (dubbed the “Panama Papers”). In both cases, thieves passed stolen data on to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. In turn, the newspaper turned to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to help it analyze the data.

Both leaks also revealed that senior politicians in many countries use offshore companies to shield their assets. That’s rather embarrassing, especially if those same politicians have railed against all things offshore. They also revealed that many of the world’s largest corporations use offshore entities to engage in sophisticated international tax planning.

For instance, the 2016 leak revealed that British Prime Minister David Cameron received tax-free income from an offshore investment set up by his father. That was after Cameron led a 2013 effort for greater “transparency” in low-tax jurisdictions. But there’s no evidence that Cameron did anything illegal.

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The latest leak – the so-called Paradise Papers – paints a similar picture. For instance, it reveals that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross owns a stake in an energy company co-owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has continued to hold this investment even after the US and other countries imposed economic sanctions against Russia for meddling in…

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