Paradise Papers Show That American Corporations Stashing Money in Offshore Tax Havens
by John Lawrence
Oh it would take a hacker to come up with the facts that Apple, Nike, Disney, McDonald's, Facebook and many others are avoiding millions of dollars in taxes by stashing money in offshore "tax paradises." These tax ne'er-do-wells will also get another tax break if the Republican tax "reform" becomes law. Of course this is something you won't hear about on the nightly news. The mainstream media is too busy covering mass murderers and sexual peccadilloes.
Some background: In October 2017 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 ICIJ's allegations. After the documents were published, the company stated 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". The documents were acquired by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The documents contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies which are stashing money in offshore tax havens. Among those whose financial affairs are mentioned are Queen Elizabeth II, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. According to The Express Tribune, "Apple, Nike, and Facebook avoided billions of dollars in tax using offshore companies."
According to the papers, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross holds stakes in businesses which deal with Russian oligarchs Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko who are subject to U.S. sanctions, as well as Russian president Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov. Other members of the Trump administration that appear in the documents include United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and director of the National Economic Council Gary D. Cohn. Offshore ties of more than a dozen Trump advisers, Cabinet members and major donors appear in the leaked data.
The documents also revealed that Russian state organizations with ties to Putin pursued between 2009 and 2011 large investments in Facebook and Twitter via an intermediary—Russian-American entrepreneur Yuri Milner, who befriended Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and was a business associate of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law.
American singer Madonna, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, American billionaire George Soros, founder of Open Society Foundations, and former NATO supreme commander in Europe General, Wesley Clark, are also named in the papers.
Commenting on the Paradise Papers leak, United States Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders warned of "rapid movement toward international oligarchy", saying, "The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes." The Democratic leader in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the ranking Democratic member of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden, issued a joint statement accusing Republicans of "pushing a reform of the tax code that fails to close egregious loopholes revealed by the leaks."
Need I say more. The rich have found myriad ways of not paying taxes through numerous loopholes which they claim are all fair and legitimate. Only the little guy, the wage earner who has his taxes withheld, pays taxes. The rich have found ways to escape them.