Paradise Papers

Steve Snively Newsletter Editor and Webmaster

Steve Snively

TINZ Newsletter Editor


On 5 November 2017 The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the Paradise Papers.  This is the same investigative organisation that combed through the Panama Papers and released the results to the world.

According to the ICIJ:

“A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.

The leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping manoeuvres.”

While no prominent New Zealand citizens or organisations have been included in the initial reports, the latter highlight the importance of strong anti-money laundering laws and beneficial ownership registers. They show the extreme gyrations that people of great wealth and corporate giants will go through to avoid taxes and camouflage assets.

The bulk of the documents have originated from Appleby, a Bermuda based company offering offshore legal services. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the leaked documents from an unnamed source, and then shared them with the ICIJ due to their experience with sifting through large document troves.

To date, little is known about how these documents were initially obtained. This process itself highlights issues of legality and morality faced in whistleblowing as well as professional risks and even the personal safety of individuals involved.

TINZ Affiliate Oxfam New Zealand notes in an email to their constituients:

“This morning’s leak of millions of documents in the Paradise Papers has once again revealed the dark and murky world of tax avoidance. From prominent politicians and celebrities to global corporate giants, tax avoiders have once again been exposed for stashing away their low tax/untaxed wealth in paradise instead of a fair share being invested in roads, schools, and hospitals in the countries where they earned that income.”

For more information:

The Paradise Papers further exposes the convoluted steps that large corporations and the extremely wealthy will go to avoid taxes and hide assets. It is clear that legal entities in “paradise countries” are popular mechanisms to operate secretly. The disease of Grand Corruption thrives in these opaque environments.

While no direct New Zealand reference has been discovered in the Paradise Papers, other sources including The Panama Papers, 1MDB trustee case and the Unaoil bribery scandal provide clear evidence that New Zealand is not immune.

It is critical to inoculate New Zealand through a steadfast push toward transparency including a public register of beneficial ownership of trusts and companies.

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