This segment originally aired on November 6, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
After nine months of secret collaboration, a global team of over 380 investigative journalists released the findings of one of the largest troves of leaked documents in history last week: the Paradise Papers.
The investigation, shepherded by the same team that released the Panama Papers, offers unprecedented insight into the clients and business activities related to a Bermuda-based offshore services law firm called Appleby.
VICE News Tonight on HBO went behind the scenes from Day One of the Paradise Papers, with exclusive access to the investigative reporters working in secret across continents to expose an unseen world of offshore accounts, hidden money, and financial maneuvering at the highest levels of politics, business, and finance.
Paradise Papers: Tax haven secrets of ultra-rich exposed – BBC News
A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen’s private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.
Donald Trump’s commerce secretary is shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.
The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance.
BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers.
How Corporations and the Wealthy Avoid Taxes (and How to Stop Them)
The United States loses, according to my estimates, close to $70 billion a year in tax revenue due to the shifting of corporate profits to tax havens. That’s close to 20 percent of the corporate tax revenue that is collected each year. This is legal.
Meanwhile, an estimated $8.7 trillion, 11.5 percent of the entire world’s G.D.P., is held offshore by ultrawealthy households in a handful of tax shelters, and most of it isn’t being reported to the relevant tax authorities. This is… not so legal... In 2015, $15.5 billion in profits made their way to Google Ireland Holdings in Bermuda even though Google employs only a handful of people there... 63 percent of all the profits made outside of the United States by American multinationals are now reported in six low- or zero-tax countries:
- the Netherlands,
- Singapore and
- Switzerland... After learning Irish authorities were going to close loopholes it had used, Apple asked a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, to design a similar tax shelter on the English Channel island of JerseyAppleby duly obliged, and Jersey became the new home of the (previously Irish) companies Apple Sales International and Apple Operations International... In 2015, the Swiss Leaks revealed the owners of bank accounts at HSBC Switzerland, and in 2016 the Panama Papers revealed those of the shell companies created by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. These showed that 50 percent of the wealth held in tax havens belongs to households with more than $50 million in net wealth.. In the Paradise Papers, we see that these are not only Russian oligarchs or Belgian dentists who use tax havens, but rich Americans too... For a long time, the bulk of it was held in Switzerland, but a fast-growing fraction is now in Hong Kong, Singapore and other emerging havens.The most compelling way to do this would be to create comprehensive registries recording the true individual owners of real estate and financial securities, including equities, bonds and mutual fund shares... One common objection to financial registries is that they would impinge on privacy. Yet countries have maintained property records for land and real estate for decades... comprehensive registries would make it possible to not only reduce tax evasion, but also curb money laundering, monitor international capital flows, fight the financing of terrorism and better measure inequality.
Paradise Papers Show How Misguided the G.O.P. Is on Taxes
The economist Gabriel Zucman and his colleagues have spent years estimating how much wealth is stashed in low-tax havens and what that means for government coffers. He’s found that 63 percent of foreign profits made by American multinational corporations are stuffed in these subsidiaries and accounts, depriving the country of about $70 billion in tax revenue each year.
.. Businesses and the wealthy, the Republicans’ argument goes, will bring their money back to our shores and pay taxes on it if rates are lower. But there are few mechanisms included in their tax package that would actually push either group to do so, rather than keep it abroad and away from taxation.