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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Paradise Papers shine light on financial affairs of The Queen, Trump aide, Twitter and football club owners

The ‘Paradise Files’, as they have been dubbed, reveal how the wealth of these people and multinational corporations has been sheltered in secretive tax havens

Media reports state that a leak of financial documents dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million documents has revealed how powerful and ultra-wealthy people, including the British Queen's private estate, managed by The Duchy of Lancaster, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA
Media reports state that a leak of financial documents dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4 million documents has revealed how powerful and ultra-wealthy people, including the British Queen's private estate, managed by The Duchy of Lancaster, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

A leak of 13.4 million files has revealed the financial activities of some of the world’s biggest firms such as Twitter, Facebook, Nike and Apple, as well as some major global figures such as Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and a key associate of the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and how they have invested their money in offshore funds.

The ‘Paradise Files’, as they have been dubbed, reveal how the wealth of these people and multinational corporations has been sheltered in secretive tax havens. The information was leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently given by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to partners such as The Guardian, the BBC and the New York Times.

The papers show how moneymen acting for the Queen invested millions of pounds in the 2000s in a fund based in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven. Around $13 million of the Queen's private money was placed in funds held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, according to the leaked papers.

They said the funds reinvested the money in an array of businesses, including controversial rent-to-own retailer, BrightHouse, which has been accused of exploiting the poor, and a chain of alcohol stores which later went bankrupt.

The investments, which were entirely legal, were made through the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the monarch with an income and handles investments of her vast estate and remain current, the media outlets said.

There is no suggestion that the Queen's private estate acted illegally or failed to pay any taxes due. But the leaks may raise questions over whether it is appropriate for the British head of state to invest in offshore tax havens.

A spokeswoman for the Duchy of Lancaster said: “All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate. We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds.”

She added: “The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”

The papers also reveal the close links between the billionaires Alisher Usmanov and Farhad Moshiri, and highlighted how these connections meant that the two men were able to fund bids to take over the Premier League clubs of Arsenal and Everton in ways that were opaque.

Wilbur Ross, a former banker reported by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $2.5bn, was shown to be an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Mr Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned more than 20 percent of that company, but now holds a much smaller stake.

Commerce department spokesman James Rockas said Mr Ross “never met” Mr Shamalov and has generally supported the Trump administration’s sanctions against Russia, according to the ICIJ report.

A Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, called on the commerce department’s inspector general to open an investigation into the matter: “In concealing his interest in these shipping companies – and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs – Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people,” Mr Blumenthal said.

“Secretary Ross’s financial disclosures are like a Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous holding companies.”

it is not alleged that Mr Ross broke any laws and and he may not even have violated federal guidelines for ethics disclosures.