Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Paradise Papers: Wonder Who Outed These Tax Cheats Global Elites?

theconversation |  The so-called Paradise Papers may sound familiar – leaked documents from a law firm that specialises in offshore services reveal how the global elite avoids paying taxes. Even the name has the same ring to it as last year’s Panama Papers expose. But the Paradise Papers are different, reflecting the complexity of the global offshore tax system.

Panama is generally considered among tax haven experts as one of the least reformed corners of the offshore world. International rules regarding tax evasion and avoidance are intended to help national governments to pursue their own offenders, but the Panama Papers revealed that the country was being used primarily by the business and political elites of countries like Russia, China and many more in Latin America and Asia; countries where the governments are closely linked to business and which are less likely to use tools provided by new international rules to pursue offenders. Hence, relatively few Americans or Europeans were caught in the Panama story. And Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the leak has since been discredited

The Paradise Papers reveal the goings on of the elites of the offshore world – this time in the supposedly highly-regulated havens of the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Singapore and the like. All places that received a fairly clean bill of health during the OECD peer review process only a few years ago. The law firm at the centre of this new leak, Appleby, insists there is “no evidence of wrongdoing” in any of the revelations.

Nonetheless, the Paradise Papers will tell us a lot about the activities of business and political elites of well-regulated countries like the US and UK – implicating big multinationals such as Nike and Apple, and individuals including the British Queen.

seudeutsche |   Dear Tim Cook,
You don’t know me, but I know you. Not personally, but from TV, livestreams of your appearances in Cupertino as you unveiled the next iPhone, and of course, from my organization’s newspaper and its website. I am the editor-in-chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s leading daily and the outlet that obtained the Panama Papers and later the Paradise Papers, which we continue to analyze and report on with colleagues from the New York Times, the Guardian, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and nearly 100 other media organizations.

Yours is one of the most famous and prestigious companies on the planet. Its products are outstanding. The iPhone not only changed the world, it did so faster than virtually any other technological innovation in history. Apple is adored by millions and has achieved cult status. Personally, I have had an iPhone for 10 years. My fingers brush across my iPad every day. At home, a MacBook awaits. If everyone in our newsroom had their choice of work computer and smartphone, I’m confident most people would opt for an Apple device.

My colleagues and I have long followed the debates in the United States and Europe over the taxation of Apple. You, yourself, have often taken a stance on the issue, like you did before the U.S. Senate in 2013. You said at the time that Apple did not “depend on tax gimmicks.” In the Paradise Papers, however, we uncovered information that tarnishes the image of Apple that you try to convey. Questions posed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and our aforementioned colleagues have gone either unanswered or been met with, at best, tight-lipped platitudes. Why?