epa06311387 (FILE) - Horseshoe Bay beach in Southampton, Bermuda, 16 June 2017 (reissued 06 November 2017). Media reports on 05 November 2017 state that a leak of financial documents dubbed the Paradise Papers with 13.4 million documents has revealed how powerful and ultra-wealthy people secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens. The vast majority of the transactions involve no legal wrongdoing. According to the reports, the leaked documents allegedly originate from the Bermuda-based lawfirm Appleby and were obtained by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared among the ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.  EPA/CJ GUNTHER
The Paradise Papers – which made public the tax affairs of numerous companies and investors – gave new impetus to countries willing to counter tax avoidance. CJ Gunther / EPA

UK faces demand to crack down on tax havens after new massive leak



Britain faced fresh demands to end financial secrecy in its network of overseas territories after a new leak of millions of documents highlighted their use by major corporations and high-profile individuals to protect their wealth.

A leak of 13.4 million files dubbed the “Paradise Papers” has revealed potentially embarrassing business links between Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, and Russian president Vladimir Putin’s family, and demonstrated that the overseas investment portfolio of Queen Elizabeth II operated through a tax haven.

The leak prompted a series of denials of wrongdoing by key players named in the papers. It also sparked accusations by campaigners that similar revelations 18 months ago had failed to lead to an overhaul of the global financial system.

Those leaks – dubbed the Panama Papers - led to the downfall of the prime ministers of Pakistan and Iceland but major changes to the international tax system foundered on disputes between nations.

A consortium of journalists working on the new leak, which includes reporters from the New York Times and the BBC, has promised days of revelations that will feature companies including Twitter, Facebook, Nike and Apple who have allegedly exploited global tax rules.

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The latest revelations, based on leaks from two offshore service providers, will make uncomfortable reading for many including the queen, Mr Ross and a senior adviser to Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau. Mr Ross on Monday described as “totally incorrect” claims that he had misled the US Congress after the leak exposed details of his interests in a company doing business with a Russian firm controlled by members of Mr Putin's inner circle.

The UK’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested Queen Elizabeth should apologise if her estate had invested offshore to avoid tax. About £10 million (Dh48m) from the queen's private fund was paid into funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda between 2004 and 2005, according to reports.

A small part of the money was traced to a lender which has previously been criticised for exploiting poor customers. A spokesman for the estate said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate."

R K Sinha, one of India's richest members of parliament, was among several of the country's politicians named in the papers. He established two offshore companies in Malta and the British Virgin Islands, according to the Indian Express newspaper. He told reporters on Monday that he had taken a vow of silence for a week and could not comment.

Prime Minister Theresa May was urged to hold a public inquiry into tax evasion and the offshore industry after it emerged that the top five jurisdictions for hidden deals were all tax havens with links to Britain, according to one campaign group.

“There's already work that's been done to ensure that we see greater transparency in our dependencies and Britain’s overseas territories and we continue to work with them,” she told a London business conference. “We want people to pay the tax that is due.”

Mrs May’s predecessor, David Cameron, had pushed for the network of 17 territories – that include financial centres such as the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda – to have public ownership registers to crack down on the anonymous use of shell companies.

But the UK government backtracked on that demand after the former colonial territories promised to share information with law enforcement but refused to make registers open to the public.

It claimed that the commitments of UK-linked tax havens put them “well ahead” of competitors such as Delaware in the United States.

More than 80 MPs had pushed for the UK to legislate to enforce public registers for overseas territories by 2020, but the attempt had to be abandoned after Mrs May called early elections.

“It’s clear again that the British network of overseas territories are hugely at play here,” said Simon Kirkland, a political adviser for development charity Christian Aid. “We have a large stake in the game and if the prime minister chooses to act that would do a huge amount of good.”

Germany welcomed the release of the documents for shedding light on the opaque world of tax planning. Its finance minister said it wanted to see the documents along with the police.

The company at the centre of the revelations, Bermuda-based offshore law firm Appleby, said it had found no evidence of wrongdoing in any of the published reports.

The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo (BMW B58)
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600-4,500rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto
0-100kph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 267kph

On sale: Now
Price: From Dh462,189
Warranty: 30-month/48,000k

The specs: 2018 Jaguar F-Type Convertible

Price, base / as tested: Dh283,080 / Dh318,465

Engine: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 295hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 400Nm @ 1,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.2L / 100km

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Dark Souls: Remastered
Developer: From Software (remaster by QLOC)
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Price: Dh199

If you go:
The flights: Etihad, Emirates, British Airways and Virgin all fly from the UAE to London from Dh2,700 return, including taxes
The tours: The Tour for Muggles usually runs several times a day, lasts about two-and-a-half hours and costs £14 (Dh67)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on now at the Palace Theatre. Tickets need booking significantly in advance
Entrance to the Harry Potter exhibition at the House of MinaLima is free
The hotel: The grand, 1909-built Strand Palace Hotel is in a handy location near the Theatre District and several of the key Harry Potter filming and inspiration sites. The family rooms are spacious, with sofa beds that can accommodate children, and wooden shutters that keep out the light at night. Rooms cost from £170 (Dh808).

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Hydrogen: Market potential

Hydrogen has an estimated $11 trillion market potential, according to Bank of America Securities and is expected to generate $2.5tn in direct revenues and $11tn of indirect infrastructure by 2050 as its production increases six-fold.

"We believe we are reaching the point of harnessing the element that comprises 90 per cent of the universe, effectively and economically,” the bank said in a recent report.

Falling costs of renewable energy and electrolysers used in green hydrogen production is one of the main catalysts for the increasingly bullish sentiment over the element.

The cost of electrolysers used in green hydrogen production has halved over the last five years and will fall to 60 to 90 per cent by the end of the decade, acceding to Haim Israel, equity strategist at Merrill Lynch. A global focus on decarbonisation and sustainability is also a big driver in its development.

COMPANY PROFILE


Company name: Clara
Started: 2019
Founders: Patrick Rogers, Lee McMahon, Arthur Guest, Ahmed Arif
Based: Dubai
Industry: LegalTech
Funding size: $4 million of seed financing
Investors: Wamda Capital, Shorooq Partners, Techstars, 500 Global, OTF, Venture Souq, Knuru Capital, Plug and Play and The LegalTech Fund


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