The Paradise Papers reveals new shenanigans of the wealthy

A new leak of a massive trove of documents being called the Paradise Papers (this post edited to add this link) reveals how the global wealthy used offshore accounts to hide their money, their financial entanglements with shady figures, and avoid paying taxes. This video explains what these documents are about and what to expect from them in the coming weeks.

The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires.

The details come from a leak of 13.4m files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

More details of what the papers contain from the period 1950 to 2014 and how the shelters work can be read here.

As with the Snowden documents and the Panama Papers, expect a series of daily revelations as teams of journalists pore through the files and release stories, followed by excuses and obfuscation by those whose names appear in the papers. While many of these deals may not be technically illegal (after all ,tax laws are largely written to benefit the wealthy by providing them with arcane loopholes for their expensive lawyers and accountants to take advantage of), they can give rise to awkward questions of ethics, though with the Trump administration ethics seems to be word never uttered.

Already Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has been named and this article lists many other high-ranking members of Trump’s inner circle who have been named.

It is wonderful that people are leaking large caches of documents revealing how the global government and business elite actually operate.

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry took part in a campaign ad for the Labour Party in 1993 that highlighted the way that tax laws are exploited by accountants to favor the wealthy and make the rest of us pay for the shortfall. This scam has been going on for a long time and is just getting more blatant and excessive.


  1. says

    It’s not the accountants -- they advise: it’s the rich people who are doing it. Of course the accountants make it easy, with a general air of “everybody does it!” But the rich and the corporations could choose to simply pay their taxes. They don’t.

    I am particularly disgusted by the ones like Warren Buffet who -- late in life -- say “oh my! did you know I pay less tax than my secretary?! I always have!” Now that they’ve done it for years. Well, write a check, Warren.
    No, sorry, no can do.

    The rich bastards that play the philanthropy game are the worst. The Carnegies put less than 2% of their wealth into the foundation, and now are regarded as philanthropists. Philanthropists? If Carnegie had kept 2% of his wealth he’d have still been a billionaire. Usually the foundations and such are a tax dodge so they can guarantee their frogspawn a career in politics or a start in real estate or whatever.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Marcus @1:

    It’s not the accountants – they advise

    Right, the accountants are simply the enablers. The rich and powerful couldn’t do what they do unless they have peons to do their bidding. To some extent, that includes pretty much all of us.

  3. says

    Rob Grigjanis@#2:
    Right, the accountants are simply the enablers.

    I’m not sure whether I’d call them that. Is there anything worse? They’re more like “Renfields” (the hopelessly beglamoured followers of a vampire) -- they make a fee for assisting their master in robbing them.

  4. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    Tax havens are like guns. They are not evil as such. When Good Guys use them, it’s perfectly OK. Evil things happen only when the Bad Buys use them. Therefore Good Guys should have more tax havens to fight the Bad Guys.

  5. rjw1 says

    I’m a retired accountant and I spent part of my career working for a firm of public accountants.
    Accountants aren’t enablers. It’s the professional duty of accountants to legally, minimise their clients’ tax liabilities. Tax is optional for the plutocracy and who is to blame for that, not accountants, but tax law and national governments and ultimately, members of the public are the ‘enablers’. Not all tax havens are palm-fringed tropical islands. For example, national governments try to attract investors with lower tax rates which provide transnationals with a golden opportunity for some creative transfer pricing.

    As long as the world is comprised of sovereign nation states this scandal will continue. Of course the situation can, to a certain extent, be alleviated, if politicians have the will to undertake legislative reform.

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