Leaked documents reveal offshore dealings of top Trump officials

Greg Nash

A slew of leaked documents reported by a consortium of news organizations show several individuals connected to President Trump as having legally protected their business investments or influenced policies that would keep client and company funds in tax havens. 

The more than 13 million documents, dubbed “the Paradise Papers,” center around Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, among other companies, and were first reported by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. They were then shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in partnership with other news outlets, including the Guardian, BBC and The New York Times. The same organization was also behind the release of the Panama Papers.


Like the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers revolve around the issue of offshore entities set up by members of the global elite. 

The Paradise Papers pinpoint over 120 politicians and royal leaders around the world who have connections to offshore finance, according to news organizations such as NBC News, which also obtained the documents.

Several top Trump administration officials are among those mentioned in the reports. 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross maintained shared business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle after joining the administration, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. This includes an investment in a shipping business that makes millions of dollars transporting gas from a company co-owned by Putin’s son-in-law, the Times reported.

A Commerce Department spokesperson told NBC News, which also obtained the documents, that Ross has recused himself from matters related to transoceanic shipping and is in contact with ethics officials to “ensure the highest ethical standards.”

The spokesperson added Ross has “generally” supported sanctions regarding Russia, although the statement did not address the ties referenced in the NBC News report. 

The president’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has held leading roles in 22 separate entities for Goldman Sachs in Bermuda between 2002 and 2006, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also directed a company in Bermuda in 1997, according to The Guardian. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also directed a Bermuda-based company known as Marib Upstream Services Company in 1997, according to The Guardian. 
Tillerson was also the head of ExxonMobil’s Yemen arm in 1997, which was tied to Marib, the documents showed. 
Citizens for Tax Justice reported last year that Exxon had 35 subsidiaries in tax havens in locations such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is not named in the leaked documents, but the bank where he served as deputy chairman gave customers finance structures for highly priced personal aircraft, the Guardian reported. 
The leaked files reportedly show that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman was one of the heads of a previously undisclosed offshore company, while a biotech company formerly run by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson set up offshore firms. 
Members of the president’s inner circle including wealthy businessmen Carl Icahn and Tom Barrack also reportedly show up in the documents. 
In a statement, Appleby emphasized that the law firm wasn’t responsible for the leak.
“We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act. This was an illegal computer hack. Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker,” the firm said. 
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment. 
Tags Ben Carson Paradise Papers Rex Tillerson Steven Mnuchin Wilbur Ross

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