The most recent leak made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is the Paradise Papers. This brings to light millions of dollars that move around in tax havens and that involve public figures, as well as entire companies.
The filtration adds more than 13 million documents, mainly from the law firm Appleby, which has its headquarters in the Bermuda Islands. The other firm involved is Asiacity Trust, which is based out of Singapore, but has subsidiaries in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Lebanon, and Malta.
Singers like Bono and officials from the closest circle of United States President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been splashed.
Costa Rica, as well as El Salvador, Chile, Peru and Venezuela also appear within the documents.
So far, the only Costa Rica reference is to Edward Furtak, one of the defendants in the 2009 class-action suit in Canada on behalf of 10,000 investors, including nurses, teachers and lawyers who had paid more than $100 million into the program that lured investors with the possibility of receiving $10,000 in tax credit in exchange for a $2,500 “donation,” all in Canadian currency. They had lost millions, they claimed, by the time Canada’s tax office ruled the scheme invalid.
Furtak, the so-called mastermind of the charity program, was a long-standing client of the global offshore law firm, Appleby.
Appleby had lent him US$2.6 million to buy property on a verdant peninsula in Costa Rica and helped administer at least three offshore trusts for him along with a 34-meter Jamaican-flagged yacht named Takapuna and worth at least US$5 million.
Appleby, which was founded in Bermuda, is one of the world’s most prestigious offshore law firms. Although Appleby is not a tax adviser, the 119-year-old firm is a leading member of the global network of lawyers, accountants, bankers and other operatives who set up and manage offshore companies and bank accounts for clients who want to avoid taxes or keep their finances under wraps.
Throughout November and December, ICIJ will release the names of tens of thousands of offshore entities incorporated by Appleby, Asiaciti and corporate registries and the people connected to them (as beneficiaries, shareholders or directors).
In Latin America, the Paradise Papers have sprinkled all. In Argentina, Finance Minister Luis Caputo is related to a fund manager of which he was the administrator of. Caputo defends himself by saying that he was only an administrator and never had direct participation in the company.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has also been linked, as his name appears as the director of two companies based out of Barbados. Santos has stated that he participated in these companies because of his interest in the subject of education, but that he never contributed money to them.
In the case of Mexico, those involved are mainly businessmen, including tycoon Carlos Slim. However, there is nothing illegal in their actions, as Slim used Appleby to establish a company in the Cayman Islands in order for it to be used as a neutral point to connect all his companies.
Venezuela draws attention because the company involved is PDVSA, which made contracts with Navigator Holdings involving the Secretary of Commerce of the United States.
Lucas Chancel, co-director of the Laboratory of World Inequalities of the Paris School of Economics, affirms “Everyone, in fact, has the right to create an offshore company, as long as the benefits are declared. Normally, this type of companies is created however in States with low taxation, known as tax havens “.
Another lawyer, Jack Blum, who has worked for the US Congress, says that, while Appleby has shown that there are no undue moves, “if it compromised the privacy of his clients with the leaks, and now these characters will have to think twice with whom to establish fiscal connections”.
About the Paradise Papers Investigation
The Paradise Papers is a global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 95 media partners explored 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries.
The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Costa Rica:
- Alejandra Fernández Morera
- Rigoberto Carvajal
- Andrea Rodríguez
- Emiliana Garcia
- Maria Fernanda Cruz