5 November 2017 (Vice News) – A vast new trove of 13.4 million leaked documents dubbed the Paradise Papers have been published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposing the offshore banking activities of more than 120 politicians around the world. Included in the leak are documents connecting U.S. Commerce Secretary and billionaire financier Wilbur Ross to a shipping company that does business with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law.

The leak is the latest to draw back the curtain on the shadowy world of offshore banking where shell companies allow the wealthy, kleptocrats, or anyone else with something to hide to conduct business largely in secret in known tax havens. This trove, which comes largely from Bermuda-based Appleby law firm, reveals offshore ties of a dozen Trump Cabinet members, advisors, and donors. It also shows the connections between a major investor in Twitter and Facebook with Russian state-owned businesses.

The documents very much resemble the massive Panama Papers leak of 2016, and were obtained much the same way: an anonymous source leaked them to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and several other news organizations which published their reports simultaneously Sunday afternoon.

Like the “Panama Papers,” the new trove of documents will provide source material for investigations that may last for months. It comes at an awkward time for the Trump administration as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is issuing indictments and Facebook and Twitter are facing questions of how they were used as tools by Russian interests to influence the 2016 election.

Here are the big takeaways:

Wilbur Ross’ connection to Putin “cronies”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, a long-time business partner of President Donald Trump, still has investments in a shipping firm with significant ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and a Russian oligarch under American economic sanctions — “cronies of Putin,” in one analyst’s words to The Guardian.

Ross divested himself of many of his investments upon entering the Trump administration where he has been a strong supporter of the president’s “America First” agenda. But the leaked documents reveal that Ross kept a multi-million dollar investment in Navigator Holdings, a shipping company that makes millions every year moving gas for Russian energy company Sibur. The owners of Sibur include Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov and Gennady Timchenko, the Russian president’s close friend and Judo partner.

Screenshot from the Vice News documentary, 'The Paradise Papers: Inside the Secret 9 Month Investigation', showing offshore connections of Marib Upstream Services Company, Ltd. Graphic: Vice News

Ross’ holdings in Navigator were disclosed at the time of his confirmation hearings in front of this Senate earlier this year but the holdings did not receive additional scrutiny. Ross’ spokesman claimed the deal had been signed in February 2012 before Ross joined on March 31 of that year. But a press release to the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 2 stated that Ross was already on the board, according to reporting by The Guardian.

Before entering the Trump administration, Ross’ net-worth was estimated to be in the billions of dollars. His appearance in the Paradise Papers is another example of the labyrinth of financial tools the ultra-rich use in order to gain leverage and at odds with Trump’s populist promises to stop the elites from ripping off American workers.

Ross is just the latest member of Trump’s orbit to have close financial ties with Kremlin-aligned actors. [more]

Everything you need to know about the massive Paradise Papers leak


  1. Anonymous said...

    Organized crime rules the US and Russia. It's been that way for a long time.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    This is an eye opening book about Russian organized crime. The man who wrote it received multiple death threats, and died at the age of 51.




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