Today is the beginning of the upcoming media frenzy about the Paradise Papers that will reveal many more names of public individuals, public companies, politicians and many not-so-public individuals with a blatant disregard for tax laws.
BBC and The Guardian newspaper revealed today :
The Paradise Papers show that about £10m ($13m) of the Queen's private money was invested offshore. How Twitter and Facebook received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions. The tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s chief moneyman. A previously unknown $450m offshore trust that has sheltered the wealth of Lord Ashcroft. Aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple. How some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes. These revelations form only a small part of a week of disclosures that will expose the tax and financial affairs of some of the hundreds of people and companies named in the data, some with strong UK connections. Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy. A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens. The vast majority of the transactions involve no legal wrongdoing. The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading and prestigious law firm “Appleby” specialised in offshore finance. BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers. As with last year's Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation. The Guardian is among the nearly 100 media partners involved in investigating the documents.
Source: BBC and The Guardian
Lead actress in the Theatre of Scandal is non other than the Duchy of Lancaster who manages the private estate of HRH Queen Elizabeth II as revealed by the BBC and Guardian newspaper.
Russia, Vladimir Putin, Trump, politicians, media moguls, film industry, public companies ....
The list of names reads like a "Who''s Who" of the ultra-rich, celebrities, politicians, business moguls and even a string of stocklisted companies which are bound by laws to disclose their finances, assets and holdings.
As shocking and revealing as the Paradise Papers may be, have we already forgotten about the Panama Papers, LuxLeaks and
Swiss Leaks ?
This is not the end but just beginning of a global phenomenon of rampant tax evasion or politely put, tax optimisation.
And the lawyers, accountants and financial advisors who advice their clients on ways to avoid paying taxes are as guilty as the rest.
So what went wrong ?
Apart from the second biggest data leak in history (second only to the Panama Papers leak in 2016), it shows the rampant disregard for laws and regulations, in particular those related to tax issues.
Are we to forgive those perpetrators ?
Not at all.
They should all be made responsible for their actions and pay the back-taxes, heavy fines and jailtime that comes with tax evasion, or politely put, tax avoidance.
And yes, President of the United States Donald J. Trump should be impeached or forced to resign immediately.
It’s even documented that Donald Trump's commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.
Admission of guilt should not absolve one from facing the consequences.
If public figures and politicians can get away with tax evasion, then what about the law abiding citizens and taxpayers ?
Everyone has the right to reduce their tax bill but everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. It's commonly known as tax justice.
The big question about the Paradise Papers is, what can we do about it ?
One Percent Deposit Tax
It's simple and difficult at the same time, however a 1% tax at source on deposits anywhere in the world will at least be a great catalyst in the quest to solve this global problem.
It's not necessarily the tax gains that matters but that there will be documented records - using for example "distributed ledger" such as Blockchain technology - of all money deposited in banks and financial institutions around the world.
Organisations such as OECD, IMF and World Bank could play a pivotal role in establishing the global 1% deposit tax (tax deductible on tax returns for individuals) while at the same solve many of the taxation issues facing governments and treasuries around the world.
The Paradise Papers are a revelation but they cover up more than they expose.
There's still a lot to come our way in the form of tax evasion and scandals.
The Paradise Papers are just the tip of the iceberg.
Jerry is the CEO of MoneyDrome, a hybrid investment & trading platform enhanced by analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. He is also an entrepreneur, writer and speaker with a 30 year diversified background in finance, engineering and maritime. His main areas of interest are FinTech and digital disruptions, which profoundly impact the global economy as well as our personal lives. Mr Floros graduated from the University of Oxford and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.