- Created: Tuesday, 12 December 2017 11:13
- Written by Trevor Rayne
What a glittering array they are: Bono, the Queen, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, Jacob Rees-Mogg and his Old Etonian friend, the stars of BBC’s Mrs Brown’s Boys, the Barclay brothers (owners of The Daily Telegraph), Lord Ashcroft (former treasurer and deputy chair of the Conservative Party), Gary Lineker, a Shoreditch cocktail bar, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge endowment funds and Prince Charles – we could go on and on. What do they have in common? They have plenty of surplus cash and are revealed by the Paradise Papers to have used tax havens to stash it away from the reach of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal) are not aberrations; they are the norm among rich individuals and powerful organisations. According to Gabriel Zucman of the University of California: ‘In the UK, Spain, Germany and France, about 30-40% of the wealth of the richest 0.01% of households is held abroad’ (The Guardian 8 November 2017).
13.4 million documents, many originating with the law firm Appleby, were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which shared the data with the Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Appleby describes itself as an ‘offshore legal services provider’, with offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Mauritius and Seychelles, as well as the financial centres of Hong Kong and Shanghai. It is one of a group of law firms known as the ‘offshore magic circle’.