Paradise Papers

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Countries with politicians, public officials, or close associates named in the leak

The Paradise Papers are a set of 13.4 million confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investments that were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,[1] and a network of more than 380 journalists. Some of the details were made public on 5 November 2017.

The documents originate from the offshore law firm Appleby, the corporate services providers Estera and Asiaciti Trust, and business registries in 19 tax jurisdictions.[2] They contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies.[3] Among those whose financial affairs are mentioned are, separately, Prince Charles[4] and Queen Elizabeth II,[5] President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.[6] At 1.4 terabytes in size, this is second only to the Panama Papers in 2016 as the biggest data leak in history.[7]


On 20 October 2017, an anonymous Reddit user hinted at the existence of the Paradise Papers.[8] Later that month, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) approached the offshore law firm Appleby with allegations of wrongdoing. Appleby said that some of its data had been stolen in a cyberattack the previous year, and denied the ICIJ's allegations.[9] After media outlets started reporting on the documents, the company said that there was "no evidence of wrongdoing", that they "are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business", and that they "do not tolerate illegal behaviour".[10] Appleby stated that the firm "was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act" and that "this was an illegal computer hack". "Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker", the company said.[11][12]

The documents were acquired by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which had also obtained the Panama Papers in 2016. According to the BBC, the name "Paradise Papers" reflects "the idyllic profiles of many of the offshore jurisdictions whose workings are unveiled", so-called tax havens, or "tax paradises".[2] The BBC also notes that the name "dovetails nicely with the French term for a tax haven—paradis fiscal".[2] The data comprises some 13.4 million documents—totaling about 1.4 terabytes—from two offshore service providers, Appleby and Asiaciti Trust, and from the company registers of 19 tax havens.[13] Süddeutsche Zeitung journalists contacted the ICIJ, which has been investigating the documents with 100 media partners. The consortium made the data available to the media partners using Neo4j,[14] a graph-database platform made for connected data, and Linkurious,[15] graph-visualization software. This allowed journalists across the globe to undertake collaborative investigative work. The documents were released by the consortium on 5 November 2017.[6][16]

Companies named[edit]

According to the papers, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Disney, Uber, Nike, Walmart, Allianz, Siemens, McDonald's, and Yahoo! are among the corporations that own offshore companies,[17][18] as well as Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox. According to The Express Tribune, "Apple, Nike, and Facebook avoided billions of dollars in tax using offshore companies."[19] Apple criticised the reports as inaccurate and misleading, saying that it is the largest taxpayer in the world and that it "pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world".[20][dubious ]

Among the Indian companies listed in the papers are Apollo Tyres, the Essel Group,[21] D S Construction, Emaar MGF, GMR Group, Havells, Hinduja Group, the Hiranandani Group, Jindal Steel, the Sun Group[22] and Videocon.[23]


A great deal of the company's intangible property was exposed around the time of an internal Apple Inc. reorganization of three Irish subsidiaries. The company's 2015 gross domestic product showed a 26% increase, and close to $270 billion of intangible assets suddenly appeared in Ireland as the year began – more than the entire value of all residential property in Ireland. This may indicate that Apple took advantage of a tax incentive known as a capital allowance, which gives Irish companies generous tax breaks for buying intangible property – essentially intellectual property like patents. In other words, Apple (some suggest[by whom?]) transferred them to a subsidiary located in Ireland for the tax incentives, and didn't have to pay any tax on the transaction in Bermuda either, on the value it declared on the property when it sold them to itself.

Following a 2013 US Senate investigation, which featured testimony by CEO Tim Cook, Ireland announced that henceforth Irish companies would be required to declare tax residency somewhere in the world. Apple had been paying a lower rate of corporate taxes in Ireland in a so-called sweetheart deal – and this attracted the eye of the EU regulators, many multinationals were doing the same thing. Ireland fully endorsed these deals. As the tax break in the Netherlands came to a scheduled end, Apple's law firm, Baker McKenzie, researched island tax havens, asking Appleby officials in numerous jurisdictions to confirm "that an Irish company can conduct management activities ... without being subject to taxation in your jurisdiction.” Two of the subsidiaries moved to Jersey and took intellectual property with them. The third is receiving tax breaks in Ireland for buying Apple IP from another Apple subsidiary.

The EU, under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker, threatened to sue Ireland over its tax deals, although Juncker himself had approved similar tax deals in his own country, Luxembourg. Apple paid all of its taxes in Ireland as Ireland required, so Ireland is appealing the EU decision. HP, Nike, Microsoft and others use the same tax arrangements in Ireland, Luxembourg and other countries,[citation needed] but Apple is frequently used as a media example, presumably because they are the biggest company in the world by stock value.[24] Irish companies are required to pay taxes in Ireland, but if they convince authorities that they are "managed and controlled" from abroad, the companies may win an exemption. Apple now holds $252 billion offshore.[25]


Germán Efromovich, founder of Synergy Group, is linked to an offshore conglomerate used for the aerocommercial holding business with ramifications in Bermuda, Panama, and Cyprus. Efromovich used a Panamanian offshore that hid more than 20 firms located in tax havens. The conglomerate was used by Synergy Group's subsidiary Avianca Holdings in the purchase of MacAir Jet, now Avianca Argentina, aircraft company owned by Macri Group, for an amount of $10 million. Allowing Avianca to make headway in the low-cost carrier business in Argentina. The Argentine government accepted this offshores as a financial guarantee to assign air routes to Avianca. The whole operation of assigning air routes is investigated by the Argentine federal justice system in a case called "Avianca" in which the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri and other officials were imputed.[26]

DST Global[edit]

A Kremlin-owned firm, VTB Bank, put $191 million into DST Global, an investment firm part of Group and founded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, which used it to buy a large share of Twitter in 2011. A subsidiary of the Kremlin-controlled Gazprom funded an investment company that partnered with DST Global to buy shares in Facebook, reaping millions when the social media giant went public in 2012. Twitter similarly went public in 2013. The US government sanctioned VTB in 2014 because of the Russian military intervention in Crimea, but DST Global had by then sold its stake in Twitter. Four days after the Facebook IPO, a DST Global subsidiary sold more than 27 million shares of Facebook for approximately $1 billion.[27]


In 2009, Glencore, an Anglo–Swiss multinational commodity trading and mining company, loaned $45 million to Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler in exchange for his help with officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo in negotiations over a joint venture with state-owned Gécamines at the Katanga copper mine. Gertler is notorious for buying from Congolese rebels for $20 million a future diamond monopoly said to have since cost the country over $1 billion.[28][29] The current DRC president, Joseph Kabila, the son of Laurent Kabila, who sold Congolese diamond rights to Gertler, then used the proceeds to take power in a coup.[citation needed]

One of the Katanga board members was Glencore major shareholder Telis Mistakidis, a former employee whose stock options made him a billionaire in the IPO. Glencore, which had effectively taken over Katanga, agreed to vote for the joint venture. The loan document specifically provided that repayment would be owed if agreement was not reached within three months. Gertler and Glencore each have denied wrongdoing. Appleby had worked for Glencore and its founder Marc Rich on major projects in the past, even after his indictment in 1983.[30][31] Rich was indicted in the United States on federal charges of tax evasion and making controversial oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis.[32] He received a controversial presidential pardon from U.S. President Bill Clinton on 20 January 2001, Clinton's last day in office.[33]

A separate ICIJ project found that tax auditors in Burkina Faso accused a Glencore subsidiary of deducting from its taxes "fictitious" payments to other Glencore subsidiaries, and of selling the zinc from its mine (to another Glencore compary) in unrefined form to minimize its revenue, which it publicly said in 2015 had not recovered from a 2017 downturn. Its CEO told shareholders before this that it expected a spike in demand, which did materialize. The mine is owned by Nantou Mining SA, which is owned by Merope Inc, a Bermuda shell company set up by Appleby with directors provided by the firm. Glencore sold Merope in April 2017 but before that it was 100% owned by Glencore Finance (Bermuda) Ltd, which was, according to a document from the Paradise Papers leaks, 100% owned by Glencore Group Funding Ltd of the United Arab Emirates, an entity in turn 100% owned by Swiss firm Glencore International AG, itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore plc, registered in Jersey.[34]

Documents were also discovered discussing Glencore's desire to keep its substantial stake in SwissMarine a secret, and that although the subsidiary's annual report showed revenues of $1.9 billion in 2014, Glencore does not mention it in its disclosures to the London Stock Exchange or any other public filing because, it said, it did not consider this a significant investment.[35]

The Australian branch of Glencore has been demonstrated to have carried out some $25 billion in cross-currency interest rate swaps, complex financial instruments the Australian Taxation Office suspects of being used to avoid paying taxes in Australia.[36]


Appleby documents detail how Nike boosted its after-tax profits by, among other maneuvers, transferring ownership of its Swoosh trademark to a Bermudan subsidiary, Nike International Ltd. This transfer allowed the subsidiary to charge royalties to its European headquarters in Hilversum, Netherlands, effectively converting taxable company profits to an account payable in tax-free Bermuda.[37] Although the subsidiary was effectively run by executives at Nike's main offices in Beaverton, Oregon – to the point where a duplicate of the Bermudan company's seal was needed – for tax purposes the subsidiary was treated as based in Bermuda. Its profits were not declared in Europe and came to light only because of a mostly unrelated case in US Tax Court, where papers filed by Nike briefly mention royalties in 2010, 2011 and 2012 totaling $3.86 billion.[37] Under an arrangement with Dutch authorities, the tax break was to expire in 2014, so another reorganization transferred the intellectual property from the Bermudan company to a Dutch commanditaire vennootschap or limited partnership, Nike Innovate CV.

Dutch law treats income earned by a CV as if it had been earned by the principals, who owe no tax in the Netherlands if they do not reside there. One in six dollars of foreign profit earned by US multinationals was earned, at least on paper, through a Dutch CV subsidiary. Companies with similar structures include Tesla, NetApp and Uber.[37]


Appleby managed 17 offshore companies for Odebrecht, a Brazilian conglomerate, and at least one of them was used as a vehicle for paying bribes in the Operation Car Wash. Some of these offshore companies are publicly known to operate for Odebrecht in Africa and be involved in bribes. Among those involved in the operation who also are named in the papers are Marcelo Odebrecht, Brazilian businessman and former Odebrecht' CEO, his father Emílio Odebrecht and his brother Maurício Odebrecht.[38]


Appleby and various banks in the Isle of Man, including Conister Bank which is owned by Arron Banks and Jim Mellon, had business with PokerStars and its founders, Mark Scheinberg and his father Isai Scheinberg, until it was sold for $4.9 billion in 2014 to The Stars Group, formerly known as Amaya. PokerStars and its founders were pursued by the US Department of Justice for allegedly money laundering billions until they negotiated a settlement in 31 July 2012.[39] The Stars Group along with its former member of board of directors Wesley Clark and former CEO David Baazov also did business with Appleby. In March 2016, David Baazov and other executives were charged by Canadian regulators with multiple securities fraud charges related to the acquisition of PokerStars.[40][41]

People named[edit]



Saadi Yacef, freedom fighter, author, and politician, appears in the Papers in connection with a trust in the Cayman Islands, along with a former energy minister, the family of a former foreign minister and their South Pacific holdings.[42]


An opposition party, UNITA, called for an investigation into alleged diversions from the country's sovereign wealth fund.[42]


Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is listed in the Paradise Papers

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is listed in the papers as a director of the Bermuda company Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012.[43] The Ghanaian Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Ken Ofori-Atta, was a co-founder of Databank and a co-director, with Johnson Sirleaf, of Songhai Financial Holdings.


Sally Listen, member of parliament 2008-2013 and minister of agriculture 2010 to March 2013, own d .billion dollar real estate in London through an offshore she told Appleby was funded by her flower-export company.[44]


Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man with an estimated wealth of 12.1 billion, is also mentioned[45] President of the Nigerian Senate Bukola Saraki is listed in the papers as a director and a shareholder of Tenia Ltd., a company established in the Cayman Islands in April 2001.[46]


Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa is listed as beneficiary, along with his daughter, of a trust which holds the Seychelles-based Katonga Investments Ltd. Katonga gave as its source of income Enhas Uganda, another Kutesa-owned company criticized in a parliamentary committee as part of a privatization it said had been "manipulated and taken advantage of by a few politically powerful people who sacrifice the people's interests".[47] Kutesa was also president of the United Nations General Assembly in 2014–2015.

Kutesa told the Daily Monitor he had never done anything with the company.[42]



Actor Amitabh Bachchan is listed in Paradise Papers

India ranks 19th out of the 180 countries represented in the data in terms of the number of names. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally, including the names of several political leaders. Among them are former Minister of Corporate Affairs Sachin Pilot, former Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot, former Minister of Science and Technology Vayalar Ravi's son, Ravi Krishna,[48] member of the Lok Sabha & Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha,[49] the son of former Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Veerappa Moily, Harsha Moily, and Rajya Sabha MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha.[50][51] Others named are Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan (as a shareholder in a Bermuda-based digital media company) Opposite political leader in Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy and former Member of Parliament of the Rajya Sabha Vijay Mallya, son of businessman Vittal Mallya. The papers revealed that Mallya sold United Spirits to Diageo in 2013, which it later approached London-based law firm Linklaters to restructuring the group structure created by Mallya. With three other subsidiaries based in the UK, United Spirits was allegedly involved with diverting funds amounting to $1.5 billion.[52]


Two children of deceased former president Suharto, Tommy and Mamiek in addition to opposition party leader Prabowo Subianto (Suharto's former son-in-law) are listed in the papers. Following the release, the Directorate General of Taxes released a statement that they will follow up the information provided on Indonesian taxpayers.[53]


Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is listed in the papers.[54] The Bermuda-incorporated company, Hoifu Energy Group, is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and appointed Hatoyama honorary chairman in 2013 because of his "amicable relationship" with the oil industry, a sector in which Hoifu planned to expand. The principal shareholder of the company was Hui Chi Ming. Neil Bush, brother of George W. Bush, was a director (deputy chairman) of the company.[47][55]


Former Minister of Oil and Gas Sauat Mynbayev is listed as an original shareholder of Meridian Capital Ltd.[56]


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz

Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is listed in the papers, having set up a trust called the Antarctic Trust owned by a Delaware corporation.[57] Aziz, a former Citibank executive, told the ICIJ he had set the trust up for estate planning purposes and that the funds had come from his employment at Citibank. An internal Appleby document raised concerns about warrants issued for him in connection with the killing of a local leader. Aziz dismissed both the murder charge and the allegations of financial impropriety.[47]



Alfred Gusenbauer was head of the Social Democratic Party of Austria from 2000 to 2008 and Austria’s chancellor from January 2007 to December 2008. He is listed as a director for Novia Management, a Maltese company listed as a shareholder in Novia Funds Sicav Plc, also Malta-based, which includes among its other shareholders Tal Silberstein (de), who was arrested in 2017 with Beny Steinmetz on charges of money laundering, then released. Silberstein had served as Gusenbauer's campaign advisor.[47]


The French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud is listed in the papers. As a result of the investigation, according to his lawyer, the filmmaker informed French tax authorities in the month preceding the release of the papers about his offshore holdings.[58]


Bono is named in the papers

U2 lead singer Bono is listed in the papers[59] as an investor in a Lithuanian shopping centre via a Malta-based company.[60]


Mareva Grabowski is listed on the Paradise Papers. She is the wife of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is leader of the opposition and president of the New Democracy political party. She is the shareholder of 50% of an offshore company Eternia Capital Management in Cayman Islands, in the Caribbeans. This match is verified in Appleby and on listed in Cayman records on 30 March 2010.[61]

In total, 235 Greek names are listed in the papers.[62]


Antanas Guoga, a Member of the European Parliament, is named in the papers.[63]


Ana Kolarević, sister of the former Montenegrin Prime Minister and President Milo Đukanović, who was in power from 1991 to 2016, is listed in the Paradise Papers.[64]


Nenad Popovic, Serbian Minister for Innovation and Technology and owner of the Russian conglomerate ABS Electro has a residence in a wealthy Zürich suburb, known for its tax shelters. The residence application and tax returns were initiated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which handles offshore companies owned by Popovic. Those entities were also implicated in money laundering and tax evasion accusations, explicitly mentioned in the Paradise Papers.[65]


In Spain, the first political authority that appears is the former mayor of Barcelona and current councilor, Xavier Trias,[66] artist José María Cano and billionaire Daniel Maté.[67] Businessman Juan Villalonga, CEO of Telefónica 1996 to 2000, registered two companies in tax havens.[68]


Quantum Global Group, an investment bank owned by Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, managed the Angolan wealth fund invested in seven investment funds in Mauritius and received an annual fee of 2 percent to 2.5 percent of capital under management per year.[69]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Paradise Papers show that the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate of Queen Elizabeth II, held investments in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.[1]
The Paradise Papers also show that the Duchy of Cornwall, a possession of Prince Charles, invested in a Bermuda-based carbon credits trading company.[70]
Lord Sassoon president of the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering

The papers show that the Duchy of Lancaster, a private estate of Queen Elizabeth II, held investments in two offshore financial centres, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Both are British Overseas Territories of which she is monarch, and nominally appoints governors. Britain handles foreign policy for both islands to a large extent, but Bermuda has been self-governing since 1620. The Duchy's investments included First Quench Retailing off-licences and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse.[71] Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn posited whether the Queen should apologize, saying anyone with money offshore for tax avoidance should "not just apologise for it, [but] recognise what it does to our society". A spokesman for the Duchy said that all of their investments are audited and legitimate and that the Queen voluntarily pays taxes on income she receives from Duchy investments.[72]

The papers also show that in June 2007, the Duchy of Cornwall, a possession of Prince Charles, invested $113,500 via in Sustainable Forestry Management,[70] a Bermuda-based carbon credits trading company run by Hugh van Cutsem.[73]

Four weeks after the Duchy of Cornwall purchased shares in Sustainable Forestry Management, Prince Charles made a speech criticising the European Union Emission Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol for excluding carbon credits from rainforests, and called for change.[74]

James Meyer Sassoon, the 2007 president of the international Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering,[47][75] said that his $236 million trust[76] revealed in the papers had been established years before by his grandmother with funds that had not been earned in the UK and therefore were not subject to tax there. He said he had first disclosed the trust when he joined the Treasury in 2002, where he was Commercial Secretary from 2010-13.[citation needed]

An article published by the ICIJ detailing the use of ambiguous VAT policies on the Isle of Man highlights the $27 million Bombardier Challenger 605 private jet that Lewis Hamilton registered there, apparently to become eligible for a $5.2 million VAT refund.[77]

The BBC also noted questions about investments by Conservative Party donor Michael Ashcroft and Farhad Moshiri, owner of Everton Football Club.[72]


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is named in the papers.[78]

Middle East[edit]


Queen Noor of Jordan is listed in the papers as the beneficiary of two trusts registered in Jersey.[79] One of the trusts, the Valentine 1997 Trust, was valued at more than $40 million in 2015, and its income is to be paid to the queen during her lifetime. The trust also owns property in southern England adjacent to Buckhurst Park, Sussex. The other trust, the Brown Discretionary Settlement, is the beneficial owner of a Jersey-incorporated investment holding company with assets worth c. $18.7 million in 2015.


Jonathan Kolber, former CEO of Koor Industries and the beneficiary of the Kolber Trust and son of former Canadian senator Leo Kolber, who set the fund up in 1991, is named.[80]

Dan Gertler, Israeli billionaire businessman in natural resources and the founder and President of the DGI (Dan Gertler International) Group of Companies appears in 120 documents regarding his relationship with Glencore.[80]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former deputy minister of defense for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is given as the owner of at least eight companies in Bermuda between 1989 and 2014, some of them apparently formed for purposes of owning yachts and airplanes.[47]


Rami Makhlouf, reportedly Syria's wealthiest man, is listed in the papers.[81]


The sons of Turkey's Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, are listed in the papers. The sons, both doing maritime business, have officially set up their 2 companies in Malta, in order to avoid high Turkish tax rates.[82] Both of the companies are registered under the names of the two sons, with the older son Erkam Yıldırım having more shares than the younger son Bülent Yıldırım in both companies. Companies, named Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd.(founded in 2004) and Black Eagle Marine Co. Ltd.(founded in 2007) are seen as "active" in the available detailed data.[83]

North America[edit]


Former Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien

Three former Canadian Prime Ministers are named in the Paradise Papers: Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Brian Mulroney.[84] According to the papers, Stephen Bronfman, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's adviser and close friend, a Liberal Party fundraiser credited with putting Trudeau into office, moved millions of dollars offshore for former Liberal Party Senator Leo Kolber.[85] The offshore maneuvers may have avoided taxes in Canada, the United States and Israel, according to experts who reviewed some of the 3,000-plus files detailing the trust's activities.[1]

Costa Rica[edit]

Former president José María Figueres sat on the board of energy company Energia Global International, along with his brother and Timothy Phillips. The company was bought in 2001 by Enel SpA, an Italian power company, for $73 million, plus $37 million in debt cancellation. Figueres resigned from the board that year, at the annual EF meeting in Davos. He was also CEO of World Economic Forum from 2000 to 2004, and resigned as a result of allegations he called "unfounded" about $900,000 in consulting fees from a French telecommunications firm.[47]


According to the files, trade union leader and politician Joaquín Gamboa Pascoe had investments worth $15.5 million; other mentioned politicians are Pedro Aspe Armella, Alejandro Gertz Manero, and officials from PEMEX. High-profile Mexicans in the files include billionaire Carlos Slim,[86] priest Marcial Maciel known as "the greatest fundraiser of the modern Roman Catholic church",[86] and Ricardo Salinas Pliego.[86] In an interview with Proceso, Gertz Manero, formerly National Security Secretary, denied all knowledge of the company, of which he was vice-president, and which was started by his brother, its president.[47]

United States[edit]