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Paradise Papers leaked highlights: EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens; In India, multi-agency panel will probe those named

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II's private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

FP Staff November 06, 2017 19:05:24 IST
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Paradise Papers leaked highlights: EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens; In India, multi-agency panel will probe those named

Highlights

17:44 (ist)

Facebook, Twitter were partly funded with Russian money

According to reports, two Russian state-owned firms funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner. A Kremlin-backed bank and the financial arm of the state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom made large investments in the US based social media giants, through Yuri Milner, a Russian-American billionaire and Trump's son-in-law's aide. 

Although, the Russian government appears to be a passive investor, the revelation comes amid growing scrutiny of how Kremlin may have influenced US presidential elections in 2016 using the social networks. 

16:46 (ist)

Appleby: The firm at the eye of Paradise Leaks storm

An ICIJ investigation has suddenly brought into focus a Bermuda-headqaurtered firm  Appleby into focus. 

According to the company website, the firm has about 470 staff. These include 60 partners. However, there are only 10 offices globally and the locations include Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

It is interesting to note that the company has many clients in India though it has no offices in the country. According to The Indian Express, the company in the garb of a law firm, helps the rich and wealthy to avoid taxes, hide names and even supply directors for shell companies. 

It claims to be one of the top offshore law firms, just like  Mossack Fonseca — the firm named in Panama Paper Leaks. 

16:06 (ist)

Manyata Dutt also figures on list of 714 Indians named in Paradise Paper leaks 

Dilnashin Dutt (aka Manyata Dutt), wife of film star Sanjay Dutt is also among the Indian names that figure in the leaked documents. 

According to The Indian Express, some files from the Bahamas registry show that Nasjay Company Limited was set up in the Bahamas, and Dilnashin Sanjay Dutt was appointed its Director, Managing Director, President and Treasurer in April 2010. Apart from this, Manyata is on board of Sanjay Dutt Productions Pvt Limited, and  a range of other companies. 

14:47 (ist)

From politicos to corporate to the Royalty, Paradise Paper leak scorches many

The Paradise Paper leaks, which named 714 Indians with suspiious offshore investments, also revealed that a sizeable amount of the Britain's Queen's private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund as part of an offshore portfolio, The Guardian reported. 

Million's of pounds of the Queen's assets were invested into an array of businesses — through the Duchy of Lancaster — including the off-licence chain Threshers, and the retailer BrightHouse, which has been criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families and vulnerable people, the newspaper reported. 

The Duchy of Lancaster, however, said that they were not aware of its "neglegible" 12-year investment in BrightHouse until approached by The Guardian and other media houses to comment on the leaks.  

13:59 (ist)

GMR group under scanner

Appleby's data also includes thousands of documents on Delhi-based GMR Group, reports said. The Income Tax Department had raided the group last year and had uncovered an attempt of avoid tax via a network of 28 offshore entities which were setup by Appleby.

13:54 (ist)

Niira Radia shows up in Paradise Paper leaks too

According to this report in The Indian Expresscorporate lobbyist Nira Radia, who was at the centre of a storm in 2010 over alleged lobbying for ministerial appointments, was part of two offshore companies in Malta.

12:53 (ist)

Bermudian firm named Appleby at centre of controversy

According to MoneyControl, Appleby is 119-year-old company and a leading member of the global network of lawyers, accountants, bankers and other operatives who set up offshore companies and manage bank accounts for clients to do the following: avoid or evade taxes; manage real estate assets; open escrow accounts; purchase airplanes and yachts paying low tax rates; or, simply, use offshore vehicles to move millions across the globe.

12:37 (ist)

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, UK's Queen Elizabeth II also named in Paradise Papers

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, according to a vast leak of financial documents that also revealed Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's investments in tax havens.

There is no suggestion that Ross, Bronfman or the queen's private estate acted illegally. However, Ross's ties to Russian entities raise questions over potential conflicts of interest, and whether they undermine Washington's sanctions on Moscow.

12:23 (ist)

Jayant Sinha was MD of Omidyar Network: Report

According to the report in The Indian Express, Jayant Sinha was the managing director of Omidyar Network when the company invested in a US company D-Light Design, which has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. That was before he became a Lok Sabha MP.

The India Express report says he has not mentioned that he was a director of D-Light Design in his declarations to the Election Commission.

12:21 (ist)

Jayant Sinha, Vijay Mallya, Amitabh Bachchan in list of prominent people who had invested in tax havens

The list has about 714 Indians, including names of several BJP and Congress leaders. Paradise Papers are a huge set of documents - 13.4 million to  be exact - that German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung gained access to. These were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of which The Indian Express is a part (Read about it here).

The prominent Indians named include minister of state for aviation Jayant Sinha, fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, cine star Amitabh Bachchan, Congress's Sachin Pilot, Karti Chidambaram and Ravi Krishna (son of former union minister Vayalar Ravi).

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Nov 06, 2017 - 19:19 (IST)

EU to discuss blacklist of tax havens after Paradise Papers leaks

European Union finance ministers will on Tuesday discuss setting up a blacklist of worldwide tax havens, EU officials said. 

The decision to include the subject in the monthly meeting’s agenda came after the publication over the weekend in several media of the so-called Paradise Papers, a trove of leaked financial documents mostly from law firm Appleby that exposed dealings with tax havens by top public figures.

EU countries had planned for months to reach an agreement on a blacklist for tax havens by the end of this year and the new revelations prompted an earlier discussion on the subject, EU officials said. No final decision is however expected on Tuesday.

Nov 06, 2017 - 19:02 (IST)

Manyata Dutt denies wrong-doing

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's wife, who is named among those in the 'Paradise Papers' for parking their wealth in secretive tax havens abroad, says that all her financial dealings are declared as per legal requirements.

Her spokesperson said in a statement: "As per the requirements of provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961, all the properties, company or body corporate or shares in any company are declared in the balance sheet."

Nov 06, 2017 - 18:10 (IST)

Russian politicians dismiss links to Facebook, Twitter, says Paradise Papers fantastic, phantasmagorical text

Amid claims that Kremlin had indirect investments in US-based social media giants Facebook and Twitter, Russian politicians downplayed the reports, insisting the deals were legal and not politically motivated.

The papers leaked from offshore law firm Appleby reveal that VTB Bank, Russia's second largest bank and now under US sanctions, funded an investment in Twitter. In addition, a branch of Gazprom energy giant through an offshore company financed an investment vehicle that owned Facebook shares.
 
However, Russia said that the way this was presented in the papers was a "fantastic, phantasmagorical text" and were plainly "stirring emotions with muddled text." 

Nov 06, 2017 - 18:02 (IST)

Multi-agency group on Panama leak to probe Paradise Papers

A multi-agency panel that also looked into the Panama Papers leaks by the International Consertium of Investigative Journalists will also look into the 'Paradise Papers' on financial holdings abroad that list a number of 714 Indian individuals and entities. 

A multi-agency group (MAG) was formed last year in April, which comprised of officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Financial Intelligence Unit and the RBI among a few others. 

Nov 06, 2017 - 17:44 (IST)

Facebook, Twitter were partly funded with Russian money

According to reports, two Russian state-owned firms funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner. A Kremlin-backed bank and the financial arm of the state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom made large investments in the US based social media giants, through Yuri Milner, a Russian-American billionaire and Trump's son-in-law's aide. 

Although, the Russian government appears to be a passive investor, the revelation comes amid growing scrutiny of how Kremlin may have influenced US presidential elections in 2016 using the social networks. 

Nov 06, 2017 - 17:15 (IST)

Meanwhile... double trouble for Karti Chidambaram

Karti Chidambaram, who is already under ED and CBI scanner in INX Media case, was today named in the Paradise leaks. The investigation claimed that the former finance minister's son has undeclared offshore assets in tax havens. Also, back at home, Supreme Court declined to grant him relief in the INX Media case. 

Nov 06, 2017 - 17:10 (IST)

What are offshore companies?

A company is any legal entity participating in business activities, such as a proprietorship, partnership, or corporation either public or private.

Offshore is a term that means outside one’s own jurisdiction. Merely having an offshore business asset is not illegal in India, but its non-declaration is. Generally, offshore companies are set up with the sole aim of financial, legal and taxation benefits, which is why they are often incorporated in countries with relatively lower tax rates than the country in contention. 

Nov 06, 2017 - 17:00 (IST)

Congress dares Modi to put 'Paradise Papers' suspects in dock

The Congress dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate action against the suspected Indian tax evaders who feature in the "Paradise Papers" leak, including one of his ministers, and put the entire facts before the Supreme Court bench overseeing black money investigations.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Prime Minister Modi's "so-called" fight against black money and corruption remains a "complete flop" as it failed to take action in the Panama Papers leak where around 500 names emerged, including those of persons linked to the BJP.

Nov 06, 2017 - 16:46 (IST)

Appleby: The firm at the eye of Paradise Leaks storm

An ICIJ investigation has suddenly brought into focus a Bermuda-headqaurtered firm  Appleby into focus. 

According to the company website, the firm has about 470 staff. These include 60 partners. However, there are only 10 offices globally and the locations include Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

It is interesting to note that the company has many clients in India though it has no offices in the country. According to The Indian Express, the company in the garb of a law firm, helps the rich and wealthy to avoid taxes, hide names and even supply directors for shell companies. 

It claims to be one of the top offshore law firms, just like  Mossack Fonseca — the firm named in Panama Paper Leaks. 

Nov 06, 2017 - 16:31 (IST)

Trump's Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross rejects allegations

Speaking to CNBC, United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross has rejected that he has any Russia links as was reported today after the Paradise Papers leak. 

Ross claimed that he is neither a director nor an investor of any of the Russian companies named.

The documents leaked by ICIJ todays claimed that even after becoming the Secretary of Commerce, Ross had retained investments in a shipping firm he once controlled that has business ties to a Russian oligarch subject to American sanctions and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. 

Ross also claimed that whatever relationship he had with these Russian-holding companies was known before and it hasn't just been revealed. 

A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material, which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including The Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Paradise Papers leaked highlights EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens In India multiagency panel will probe those named

A file image of Jayant Sinha. Image: News18

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II's private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

It details extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump's cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with ggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders, including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation, for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years, comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one's own nation's regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money, assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes, reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman, or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable, secretive and reliable, often small islands but not exclusively so, and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing.

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