All's not well in Paradise: What you need to know about the Paradise Papers leak

Some of those implicated in the Paradise Papers leak include (clockwise from top left) Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and Apple led by CEO Tim Cook. PHOTOS: EPA-EFE, AFP, REUTERS
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After the Paradise Papers disclosures, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defended himself, saying he did nothing wrong and properly disclosed investments in a shipping firm with ties to Russian President Putin's inner circle.
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US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he's done nothing wrong and did properly disclose his investments in a shipping firm that has significant business ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

The world was shaken by revelations of the global elite hiding their wealth in tax havens on Sunday (Nov 5) when the Paradise Papers were released.

Here is all you need to know about the leak.

What is the source of the Paradise Papers?

Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year-old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people.

It also came from Singaporean company Asiaciti Trust and official business registries in places such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Lebanon and Malta.

A duo of reporters at the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung shared the leaks with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICCJ), who made the content public.

Why is it called the Paradise Papers?

It's a play on tax havens, also known by the term 'tax paradises', where the wealthy hide their money to avoid getting taxed back home.

How similiar is it to the Panama Papers?

The Panama Papers leak of 2016 was larger, at 2.6TB of information. The Paradise Papers weigh in at 1.4TB.

Also, Appleby's clients are predominantly members of the elite class, as compared to Mossack Fonseca - the company at the centre of the Panama Papers leak - which appeared to be less discriminating in the clients it took on.

What is in the Paradise Papers?

Totaling over 13.4 million documents, it sheds light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens.

It reveals how and where the world's elite - from royalty to sports stars - hide their incredible wealth.

Who has been implicated by the papers?

Queen Elizabeth II (Britain)

Millions of pounds from the private estate of the monarch have been invested in offshore tax haven funds.

Around £10 million (S$18 million) was placed in funds held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, making critics question whether it is appropriate for the British head of state to invest in offshore tax havens.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (USA)

The Commerce Secretary was revealed to have business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

His ties to Russian entities raise questions over potential conflicts of interest, and whether they undermine Washington's sanctions on Moscow.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Canada)

The papers revealed that his top fundraiser and senior advisor Stephen Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, moved some US$60 million (S$81.9 million) to offshore tax havens with ex-senator Leo Kolber.

The revelations could spell trouble for Trudeau, who was elected two years ago riding on the coattails of promises to reduce economic inequality and tax avoidance.

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles and Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi (Brazil)

Meirelles, a former senior official at BankBoston and a possible presidential contender, is linked through an organization called the Sabedoria Foundation, while Maggi, an agribusiness mogul, said he was never a direct beneficiary of Amaggi Louis Dreyfuss Zen-Noh International Ltd, an offshore trust registered in the Cayman Islands, which the Paradise Papers revealed.

President Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia)

Santos was listed in the leaked documents as a board member of insurance company Nova Holding in April and May 2000 and also Global Tuition, an insurance firm focused on education, from April 1999 to May 2001.

He said he left a company registered in tax haven Barbados before taking up his duties as Finance Minister in the government of then-President Andres Pastrana in August 2000.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (Britain)

The world champion racer received a £3.3 million (S$5.92 million) VAT refund in 2013 after his luxury plane was imported into the Isle of Man - a low-tax British Crown Dependency.

The elaborate scheme is now under investigation by British tax authorities.

Apple (USA)

The tech company used to avoid tens of billions of dollars in taxes by shifting profits into Irish subsidiaries, until they were clamped down upon by Irish authorities.

With help from law firms that specialize in offshore tax shelters, the company canvassed multiple jurisdictions before settling on the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income.

Nike (USA)

The sportswear giant used a loophole in Dutch fiscal law to reduce its tax rate in Europe to just two per cent.

Two companies based in the Netherlands concentrated all Nike's European revenues, allowing the company to avoid paying tax on "profits in the countries where it actually sells its shoes".

What about some places closer to home in Asia?


Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and Mr Masamitsu Naito, who served as state minister for internal affairs and communications, were among a handful of former Diet members said to have ties to tax havens in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.


A panel of government officials has been formed to investigate cases appearing in the Paradise Papers.

These include 714 names of Indian businessmen, lawmakers and Bollywood stars and at least one federal minister.

Among these individuals are Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha and businessman Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for financial irregularities and is currently in Britain.


Indonesian authorities are investigating if former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and the children of ex-dictator Suharto, Tommy and Mamiek, named in documents leaked from a Bermuda law firm, are in breach of the country's tax laws.

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