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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:11 pm 
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Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist
16 October 2017

A Maltese investigative journalist who had exposed her island nation's links with the Panama Papers document leak was killed on Monday when a bomb destroyed her car as she was driving near her home, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, had just driven away from her home in Mosta, a town outside Malta's capital Valletta, when the bomb exploded, sending the vehicle's wreckage spiraling over a wall and into a field. Muscat says her death resulted from a "barbaric attack" that also assaulted freedom of expression. He described the slain journalist as "was one of my harshest critics, on a political and personal level," as he denounced the attack as "unacceptable" violence.

Caruana Galizia was named by Politico as among the 28 Europeans who are "shaping, shaking and stirring" Europe. She had exposed that Muscat's wife, Michelle, as well as Muscat's energy minister and the government's chief-of-staff, held companies in Panama by looking into the 2016 document leak. Muscat and his wife deny they held such companies.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia called the killing a "political murder." Caruana Galizia had been sued for libel because of various articles she wrote on her blog "Running Commentary," and she had filed a report with the police two weeks ago that she was receiving threats.

Monday evening's Parliament session was scrapped, except for briefings about the bombing scheduled to be given by Muscat and Delia, the opposition leader. In June, Muscat was sworn in for a second term as prime minister following snap elections he had called to reinforce his government as the Panama Papers' leak indicated his wife owned an offshore company. The couple deny wrongdoing. The leak exposed the identities of the rich and powerful around the world with offshore holdings in Panama.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:57 pm 
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Paradise Papers: Apple shifted billions offshore to avoid tax
6 November 2017

New revelations Monday from the "Paradise Papers" shed light on Apple's tax avoidance strategy which shifted profits from one fiscal haven to another as well as loopholes employed by Nike and Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.

They are the latest disclosures from a trove of documents released by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) concerning secretive offshore deals that have proved deeply embarrassing. According to documents cited by the New York Times and BBC, the offshore legal services firm Appleby helped the iPhone maker shift tens of billions of dollars from Ireland to the Channel Islands when it appeared to face a tougher stand on taxes by Dublin.

The report said Apple transferred funds to the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income and is largely exempt from European Union tax regulations. Apple did not immediately respond to an AFP query on the report but told the New York Times it follows the law in each country where it operates. At a 2013 congressional hearing, Apple chief Tim Cook denied the use of "gimmicks" to avoid taxes. The company is now facing an EU demand for some $14.5 billion in taxes based on a ruling that its tax structure in Ireland amounted to illegal state aid.

The BBC and Guardian newspaper reported Hamilton avoided paying taxes on his private jet using an elaborate scheme now under investigation by British tax authorities. The leaked documents showed the driver received a £3.3 million ($4.4 million, EUR3.7 million) tax refund in 2013 after his luxury plane was imported into the Isle of Man -- a low-tax British Crown Dependency. Representatives for Hamilton could not be reached by AFP for comment.

A separate report appearing in France's Le Monde said Nike used a loophole in Dutch fiscal law to reduce its tax rate in Europe to just two percent compared with a 25 percent average for European companies. The tax savings came from Nike's use of an offshore subsidiary which charged royalties to the company's European subsidiaries, the report said.

Separately, the documents showed the Russian connection of US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross through a complex web of offshore investments. They revealed Ross's 31 percent stake in Navigator Holdings partnership with Russian energy giant Sibur, which is partially owned by Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov and Gennady Timchenko, the Russian president's friend and business partner who is subject to US sanctions. The cabinet member's ties to Russian entities raise questions over potential conflicts of interest, and whether they undermine Washington's sanctions on Moscow.

The US imposed sanctions on Russian entities and individuals over the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in Ukraine. The billionaire investor told Bloomberg on Monday he was not intending to hold onto his stake: "I've been actually selling it anyway but that isn't because of this." On Monday, Russian politicians played down the leaks, saying the deals mentioned were legal and not politically motivated. In a statement reported by Russian news agencies, Sibur voiced its "amazement at the politically charged interpretation in some media of ordinary commercial activity."

Earlier reports highlighted offshore holdings of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and a top fundraiser for Canada's prime minister. The documents showed around £10 million ($13 million, 11 million euros) of the queen's private money was placed in funds held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, as first reported in Britain by the BBC and the Guardian newspaper.

Theresa May's spokesman said the British prime minister "wants people to pay the tax that they owe," while cautioning that holding offshore investments was not an automatic sign of wrongdoing. "We have been clear that avoidance and evasion is never acceptable," he said, ahead of the British parliament discussing the Paradise Papers on Monday. A spokeswoman for the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the monarch with an income and handles her investments, said: "All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate."

The documents also suggest that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's top fundraiser and senior advisor Stephen Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, moved some $60 million (52 million euros) to offshore tax havens with ex-senator Leo Kolber.

The 13.4 million documents were first obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with the ICIJ and partner media outlets. The findings were described as a "scandal" by European Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. "In light of these shocking revelations, I call on member states to rapidly adopt a European tax haven blacklist, as well as other dissuasive measures," he said in Brussels.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:02 pm 
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Rich and famous in the Paradise Papers
7 November 2017

PARIS (AFP) - Apple, Bono and Queen Elizabeth II are just a few of the big names and companies revealed in the Paradise Papers leak to have shifted money across the globe to cut tax.

The spotlight on the tax affairs of the rich and powerful comes after a trove of documents was released by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), detailing secretive offshore deals that, while not illegal, are embarrassing for those concerned.

Here are some of the most well-known names caught up in the controversy:

- Politics -

- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has, through the Duchy of Lancaster which provides her income and handles her investments, placed around £10 million ($13 million, euro 11.3 million) of her private money in funds held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. The funds were reinvested in an array of businesses, including controversial rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse which has been accused of exploiting the poor.

- US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross holds a 31 percent stake in maritime transport company Navigator Holdings through a complex web of offshore investments. Navigator Holdings runs a lucrative partnership with Russian energy giant Sibur, linked to President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. Russia is subject to US sanctions.

- In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's top fundraiser and senior advisor Stephen Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, moved some $60 million to an offshore haven in the Cayman Islands.

- Brazil's economy and agriculture ministers, Henrique Meirelles and Blairo Maggi, are also cited in offshore companies in tax havens.

- Celebrities -

- U2 frontman Bono is shown in the leak to own a stake in a Maltese company that bought in 2007 a Lithuanian shopping mall via a Lithuanian holding company, which may have broken tax rules by using an unlawful accounting technique.

- Britain's four-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton avoided paying taxes on a private jet, receiving a £3.3 million VAT refund in 2013 after it was imported into the Isle of Man, a low-tax British Crown Dependency.

- Multinationals -

- Technology giant Apple shifted much of its offshore wealth from Ireland to the Jersey tax haven in the British Isles to adapt to the tightening of Irish tax laws in 2015.

- US sportswear giant Nike used a loophole in Dutch fiscal law to reduce, via two companies based in the Netherlands, its tax rate in Europe to just two percent compared to the 25 percent average for European companies.

- The taxi-hailing ap Uber and the manufacturer of Botox, the Allergan pharmaceutical laboratory, allegedly used similar methods to Nike.

- The Paradise Papers also reveal that Russian companies with links to the Kremlin invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Twitter and Facebook. The Internet giants are under fire, notably in the US Congress, for the use of their platforms to spread Russian rumours during the 2016 US presidential election.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:04 pm 
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Leaks show Russian oligarchs registering jets in Isle of Man
7 November 2017

MOSCOW (AP) -- Leaked papers revealing investments in tax havens by the world's wealthy suggest that several Russian oligarchs have registered private jets in the Isle of Man, avoiding taxes in Russia.

Russia's Novaya Gazeta, which shared access to the "Paradise Papers" with other organizations, reported late Monday that 17 jets have been registered in the Isle of Man, a crown dependency of the U.K. The jets were registered on the behalf of individuals including Russian President Vladimir Putin's childhood friends, the Rotenberg brothers, and metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska.

Other reports showed Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also registering a jet there. Much of the "Paradise Papers" includes bank statements, emails and loan agreements from Appleby, a law firm that helps set up offshore dummy companies and trusts. Appleby told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the records, that there is "no evidence" it has done anything wrong.

Novaya Gazeta said the documents showed how the rich took advantage of the local tax system to buy jets and import them to Europe without paying value added tax. Novaya Gazeta calculated that the businessmen would have had to pay roughly $68 million in taxes if they had imported the jets to Russia.

Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, childhood friends of Putin, have registered three jets in the Isle of Man. Novaya Gazeta quoted email correspondence that detailed how Appleby was helping Arkady Rotenberg to import a jet from Canada to the European Union. Appleby suggested a scheme that involved several offshore companies that would pay taxes in the Island of Man so that in the end one firm of Rotenberg's would lease the jet to another. Arkady and Boris Rotenberg set up their business in the 1990s but it was under Putin that their companies flourished, mostly thanks to lucrative state procurement contracts.

Source: AP

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