The financial affairs of the rich and famous are always a secret. However, in the recent months, major leaks in the financial practices of these people have cast an uncomfortable spotlight on their dealings all over the world.
Just 18 months after the Panama Papers’ leak, a new leak dubbed “Paradise Leak” is emerging. The leak has disclosed about 13.4 million documents that were previously kept a secret and so far, some big names have been caught up in it.
The documents were obtained from a London based law firm called Appleby. The firm is a major adviser on offshore financial affairs. Although the ICIJ has provisionally ruled out any criminal culpability on the people exposed in this leak, we decided to scan through the first few pages and to our surprise, a number of big names popped up.
The Queen of England
This one was a bit surprising but nonetheless, her Majesty’s name has appeared on the leak. The Paradise Papers show that the Duchy of Lancaster, which is responsible for providing income to the Queen of England and managing investments for her private estate valued at £500 million, is reported to have made a £10 million investment in offshore funds based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
However, a statement released by the CFO of the Duchy, Chris Adcock, noted that the investments were made on reputable private equity funds. He also said that the Queen is never personally involved in any investments made by the Duchy.
Lewis Hamilton has also been mentioned in the leak. The four-time Formula 1 world champion is said to have avoided taxes after purchasing a private jet worth £16.5 million. Hamilton received a VAT tax refund of about £3.3 million. An “artificial” leasing deal was created in order to facilitate this transaction and the tax refund. A report from the BBC, however, indicated that Hamilton lawyers had reviewed the nature of the deal and found that it was not illegal.
Shakira is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. The leak shows that the singer transferred £30 million in musical rights to an offshore firm listed as Malta Tournesol Ltd. In a quick rejoinder to this revelation, Shakira’s lawyer Ezequiel Camerini made it clear that the offshore company had fulfilled all the required legal obligations. Camerini also said that all the information about the nature of transactions done with the Maltese company is completely transparent.
Wilbur Ross was nominated and confirmed as Commerce Secretary just a few months ago. The Paradise Papers’ leak shows that Ross owns stakes in a company that conducts business with a Russian gas producer. Putin’s son-in-law owns a part of this gas company.
Madonna has been mentioned to have purchased stocks in a medical supply company based in Bermuda. However, the company is no longer operational. The papers indicate that it was founded in 1997 and closed in 2013.
These are some of the few important people that have found their names in this leak. Others include Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and Prominent Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft among others.