LONDON – The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the latest of its investigations into the financial affairs of the rich and famous, detailing how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people legally hide their cash offshore.
The latest installment – which follows on from 2015’s Panama Papers – has been dubbed the “Paradise Papers” and consists more than 13 million documents, obtained mostly from law firm Appleby, a leading adviser on offshore affairs.
No wrongdoing is being alleged by the ICIJ: “There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”
Business Insider scanned the first set of papers released by the ICIJ – it will release more as the week goes on – for newsworthy or prominent individuals in the world of celebrity and politics. Here are some of the most interesting people named so far.
Singer Shakira, famous for hits including “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever” is named in the papers after it was revealed she transferred £30million in musical rights to an offshore firm called Malta Tournesol Ltd, based on the island of Malta, according to the Mail Online.
“The Maltese company Tournesol Limited fulfils all legal requirements to operate as such. All of the corresponding information relative to this entity is public and transparent,” Shakira’s lawyer Ezequiel Camerini told a Spanish news site.
Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster
Britain’s youngest billionaire’s name appears in the Paradise Papers in relation to two offshore trusts set up by the Grosvenor estate in the 1960s and 1970s, long before his birth.
Grosvenor, who inherited the estate after the death of his father in 2016, reportedly managed, thanks to careful planning from his family’s estate, to avoid paying 40% “death duties” usually levied when assets pass from one generation to another.
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Four-time Formula One World Champion Hamilton – who sealed his most recent title just last week – is shown in the Paradise Papers to have avoided tax on a £16.5 million private jet, by receiving a £3.3m VAT refund.
That was enabled by the creation of an “artificial” leasing deal after the plane was imported to the Isle of Man in 2013.
“Hamilton’s lawyers say a tax barrister review found the structure was lawful,” according to a report from the BBC.
“As a global sportsman who pays tax in a large number of countries, Lewis relies upon a team of professional advisers who manage his affairs,” a statement from representatives of Hamilton given to the BBC said.
“Those advisers have assured Lewis that everything is above board and the matter is now in the hands of his lawyers.”
The most striking name in the latest leak is that of Her Majesty The Queen. The Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the Queen with an income and deals with the investments for her £500 million private estate, is shown to have invested as much as £10 million offshore in funds based in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
“Our investment strategy is based on advice and recommendation from our investment consultants and appropriate asset allocation,” Chris Adcock, the CFO of the Duchy said in a statement given to the BBC.
“The Duchy has only invested in highly regarded private equity funds following a strong recommendation from our investment consultants.”
The Queen is not personally involved in any of the investments.
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Prominent Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft “ignored rules around the management of his offshore investments,” according to a BBC report on the Paradise Papers, which says that he gave assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Punta Gorda Trust in Bermuda in 2000.
Ashcroft could be the subject of an investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the BBC says, “if it was to take the view an overseas trust had been controlled from the UK.”
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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a company that does business with a gas producer partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Journalists, Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned more than 20% of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake.
Pop star Madonna is named in the Paradise Papers as having been a shareholder in a medical supply company in Bermuda. The company was registered in 1997 and shuttered in 2013, the papers show.
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U2 frontman and charity advocate Bono is named in the Paradise Papers as having “used a company based in Malta to pay for a share in a shopping centre in a small town” in the north-east of Lithuania in 2007.
Bono “was an investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Aušra mall – named after the Lithuanian word for dawn – for €5.8m (£5.1m) shortly after it opened in 2007,” the Guardian, one of the key players in the Paradise Papers, writes.
“Bono was a passive, minority investor in Nude Estates Malta Ltd., a company that was legally registered in Malta until it was voluntarily wound up in 2015. Malta is a well-established holding company jurisdiction within the EU,” a spokesperson for Bono told the Guardian.
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Bachchan, one of the most recognisable names in India’s enormous Bollywood film industry, is named in the Paradise Papers as having been a “shareholder of a digital media company incorporated in Bermuda in 2002,” according to newspaper the Indian Express.
“Till the introduction of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme in 2004, all investments abroad made by resident Indians required prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India. It’s not clear if the shareholding was disclosed to RBI,” the paper writes.
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Knightley, famous for her roles in early 200os romantic comedy Love Actually, and in action movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, is said to have invested in a Jersey-based real estate firm, according to the Paradise Papers.