A massive trove of leaked legal documents from an offshore law firm has exposed financial arrangements of well known public figures ranging from the Queen to a key member of Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The documents, which were obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reportedly contain decades of corporate records from Appleby, which specialises in offshore legal services, and another linked company, Estera.
More than 13.4m records, dubbed the Paradise Papers, were leaked, according to the ICIJ. The documents were taken in a hack last year, Appleby said.
In a statement published on its website, Appleby said it has “thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients.”
The leaked files also include documents from government business registries in Antigua and Barbuda, the Cook Islands and Malta.
The ICIJ today reported the files show that the managers of the private estate of Queen Elizabeth II have invested millions of pounds using offshore trusts in medical and consumer loan companies, including controversial rent-to-own firm Bright House.
Meanwhile Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary, used Cayman Islands entities to hold a financial stake in Navigator Holdings, a shipping firm whose clients include Sibur, an energy firm linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ICIJ reported.
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Other prominent people to be named in the reports of the leak included Lord Ashcroft, a major donor to the Conservative party, Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, and US secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
The leak appears to have similarities with the Panama Papers in 2015, in which records from law firm Mossack Fonseca were obtained. However, the scope of the leak appears to be geographically larger, covering companies in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, where Appleby is based.
In a statement the Bermudan government said: “The government takes these matters extremely seriously and is reviewing developments with all parties concerned, including the relevant international authorities.
“Bermuda consistently ranks as a global leader in tax and transparency, with tax treaties with over 100 governments.”