One point four terabytes of data containing 13.4 million files released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveals where the world’s wealthiest people stash their monies.
The documents, which come from Appleby, a law firm that specializes in offshore accounts, were leaked to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, who shared them with the ICIJ.
The files, dubbed the Paradise Papers, similar to the 2016 leak dubbed the Panama Papers, feature more of the world’s wealthiest and just how they avoid tax.
While more big names are expected to come later in the week, the initial reports detail offshore accounts kept by Queen Elizabeth II, Bukola Saraki, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, U2 frontman Bono, and a close adviser and chief fundraiser to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Wilbur Ross, appointed US Commerce Secretary by President Donald Trump, has been revealed to own a stake in a Russian shipping company closely linked to Vladimir Putin.
The documents also show how Twitter and Facebook received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from Russian institutions closely linked to Putin, through a business associate of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Saraki’s company, Tenia Ltd. described in Appleby’s records as “a holding company,” was established in the Cayman Islands in 2001.
The company’s listed address, 30 Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, was one of the properties investigated in 2016 during Saraki’s alleged false declaration of assets.
Although the keeping of offshore accounts is not illegal, it does raise a question of ethics, and are seen as one of the reasons for the widening divide between the rich and the poor.
In the data President Sirleaf was listed as a director of the Bermuda company Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. a subsidiary of Databank’s finance, fund management and investment company Databank Brokerage Ltd., from April 2001 until September 2012, according to Appleby’s files. Ken Nana Yaw Ofori-Atta, now Ghana’s finance minister, was a co-founder of Databank and a co-director, with Johnson Sirleaf, of Songhai Financial Holdings.
Stephen D. Cashin, chief executive of Pan African Capital and a board member of Databank, responded to a request for comment from Sirleaf-Johnson that Songhai was designed for offshore investors to invest in Ghana’s Databank and that Databank had no business in Liberia. Sirleaf-Johnson was elected to the board of Databank before being elected president, he told ICIJ, and she has no interest in Songhai or Databank. Cashin said Sirleaf-Johnson actually resigned from Songhai before her election campaign, but the resignation was “not effected” until 2012 due to “an administrative oversight” in Bermuda.