Appleby Global Group Services Limited is a very old law firm with a very old mission – helping wealthy people and corporations avoid scrutiny. Beginning on Sunday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists began releasing findings from a trove of 13.4m documents from Appleby and its subsidiaries. The media has dubbed these the “Paradise Papers”, and they are deeply troubling.
To carry out its mission for its elite clients, Appleby plays a complicated shell game with carefully crafted tax havens. Here’s a simplified version of its playbook: find jurisdictions with low taxes and lax incorporation laws, set up anonymous shell corporations, and run money through untraceable bank accounts. Sounds dodgy, but it is completely legal.
When the client is a large multinational corporation, this can involve an international web of dummy corporations, taking intangible