What are the ‘Paradise Papers’? Your three questions answered | world-news | Hindustan Times
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What are the ‘Paradise Papers’? Your three questions answered

The Paradise Papers comprise 13.4 million documents or 1.4 terabytes (TB) of data from Appleby which provide details of the tax affairs of some of the richest people and biggest corporations around the world.

world Updated: Nov 06, 2017 19:37 IST
HT Correspondent
Millions of pounds from the private estate of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II have been invested in offshore tax haven funds,  the Paradise Papers leak revealed late on Sunday.
Millions of pounds from the private estate of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II have been invested in offshore tax haven funds, the Paradise Papers leak revealed late on Sunday. (AFP File Photo)

Since Sunday, media organisations the world over have been tracking the revelations in the Paradise Papers, which detailed alleged tax avoidance by elites around the world, from rock musician Bono to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.

The Paradise Papers comprise 13.4 million documents or 1.4 terabytes (TB) of data from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm specialising in offshore legal services, and its spin-off company Estera. They provide details of the tax affairs of some of the richest people and biggest corporations around the world.

The files provide details about bank statements, emails and loan agreements from Appleby, a firm that helps its clients to take advantage of countries with low or zero-tax rates.

There are also records came from Asiaciti Trust, a Singapore-based offshore specialist, and 19 corporate registries maintained by governments.

What is known about the tax firm of Appleby?

According to The New York Times, Appleby “helps clients reduce their tax burden; obscure their ownership of assets like companies, private aircraft, real estate and yachts; and set up huge offshore trusts that in some cases hold billions of dollars”.

In its initial response to the leaks, Appleby said there was “no evidence” that it had done anything wrong.

What next?

The ICIJ has promised that more information will be made public during this week, including “stories on strategies used by multinational corporations to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions” and details of “private jets and yachts” owned by some of the world’s elite in offshore tax havens.

The Paradise Papers leaks come about a year-and-a-half after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported on the Panama Papers, 11.5 million documents on offshore entities leaked from the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca.

The source that leaked the Paradise Papers to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung has not yet been revealed. The newspaper in turn shared the files with the ICIJ, which has members around the world.

What is the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion?

Tax avoidance is the term used for firms and individuals using legal means to avoid or reduce their tax liabilities. Tax evasion involves the use of illegal means to avoid paying taxes or to pay lower amounts, and is an offence.