In the second-largest data leak of all time, a great Something Burger, 96 media organizations from 67 countries have been working together to sort through 13.4 million papers–dubbed the “Paradise Papers”–documenting where the world’s elite store their money. The documents, originally obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, have been heroically organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) into a surfable database with illustrations. The “donate” button is at the bottom of their page.
Yes, the Trump Administration is implicated. First it shows that many administration officials store their money in offshore tax havens. Though the activities are not illegal, it seems that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (profile link) and Jared Kushner did not disclose business ties to the Kremlin.
According to the Paradise Papers, Ross previously served on the board of a company called Navigator, one of whose largest clients is a petrochemicals company with “close ties to the Kremlin.” A spokesperson says that Ross “recuses himself from any matters focused of transoceanic shipping vessels, but has been generally supportive of the administration’s sanctions of Russian and Venezuelan entities.” A federal statue bars executive branch employees, including Cabinet members, from participating in decision-making which affects a personal financial interest.
For Jared Kushner, Jared News is always hard to believe because it’s evidence that despite appearances, he’s alive–his Russia connection is tech magnate Yuri Milner. Milner both owns a stake in Jared Kushner’s tech real estate company Cadre and also made “substantial investments” in Twitter and Facebook with money from two Russian state institutions, the Guardian reports. The New York Times reports that with all of his companies combined, Milner owns 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter.
Milner denies having much contact with Kushner. From the Guardian:
“Milner said he had invested in Kushner’s business purely for commercial reasons, and that the pair had met only once, over cocktails in the US last year. “I’m not involved in any political activity. I’m not funding any political activity,” said Milner.”
It’s already been reported that Kushner neglected to list Cadre on his financial disclosure form and has continued to collect money, rather than divest, which is unethical, which effectively means nothing to this administration.
But the Queen of England, the world is asking? The papers reveal that 10 million pounds of the Queen’s 500 million pound estate is in Bermuda or the Caymans. The Queen herself does not manage her investments–those are made by the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides her with an income (she collects a separate income from the treasury which is taxpayer-funded). Unknown sums were allegedly invested indirectly via a Cayman Island fund into two allegedly predatory businesses.
The BBC notes that the investments are not illegal and there is no evidence of her “avoiding tax,” but “questions may be asked about whether the monarch should be investing offshore.”
A spokesperson for the Duchy of Lancaster told the BBC: “We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate...The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”
Many others are outed, not necessarily for illegal activities, but just part of the fabric of the global tax scam: a “key fundraiser” for Justin Trudeau; Madonna; Bono; e-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar; and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
As for us peons, the BBC points out that a ton of money, an unknown but sizable chunk of the entire world’s wealth, somewhere between $7.8 and $36 trillion, between 10 percent and half of the global GDP, is “held offshore.” But how much, they write, “no-one really knows.”
Fine–bring out the Guy Fawkes masks.
Read the ICIJ’s extensive breakdown here.