The Paradise Papers
Earlier this week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released over 13 million heretofore confidential records documenting the offshore financial interests held by wealthy individuals and corporations who may have wanted to shield their involvement in offshore tax havens from public scrutiny.
Known as the Paradise Papers, the documents originate primarily from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, says the ICIJ. The firm specializes in catering to UHNW clients and blue chip companies, according to its website. The documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the ICIJ.
"The promise of tax havens is secrecy — offshore locales create and oversee companies that often are difficult, or impossible, to trace back to their owners," the ICIJ reported, adding that having an offshore entity is often legal.
In a statement, Appleby stresses that the firm has not done "anything unlawful. There is no wrongdoing. [The Paradise Papers are] a patchwork quilt of unrelated allegations with a clear political agenda and movement against offshore. We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act."
Around 31,000 of the individual and corporate clients included in Appleby’s records are U.S. citizens or have U.S. addresses, more than from any other country, according to the news organization. They include prominent businessmen, entertainers and financiers, many with political ties, including cabinet posts.
Here is a Who's Who of individuals from the financial world identified in the Paradise Papers, along with their offshore connections.
Additional reporting by Sean Allocca
According to the New York Times, "the ethics agreement Mr. Ross filed when taking office said he intended to retain several investment partnerships, but did not specify that they were used to hold his stake in Navigator."
The release of the Paradise Papers has prompted calls for further investigation of Ross' holdings in the Senate.
Dubbed the "King of Bankruptcy," Ross' private equity fund, W. L. Ross & Co., restructured failed companies and sold them later for a profit. The company was one of Appelby's biggest clients, the ICIJ reports. Appleby administered more than 50 Ross companies and partnerships, most in the Cayman Islands.
The Commerce Department said in a statement that "Reports that Secretary Ross did not disclose his Navigator holdings are completely false — they are listed in sections 10.14. 1.3, 10.15. 1.3, and 24.1.4. 2 of his Form 278, which can be viewed by the public on the Office of Government Ethics website oge.gov."
Ross' net worth was estimated by Forbes to be nearly $3 billion in 2016.