In 2016, a leak of documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca blew the lid off the practice of offshoring assets to avoid taxes. Suddenly, global attention focused on how the rich and powerful conceal their wealth and avoid paying their fair share.
The so-called “Panama Papers” also revealed that hundreds of heads of state, government officials, and influential people had vast holdings in international tax havens.
Among the leaders discovered was Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko. After being elected, the businessman-turned-president had promised to sell his Roshen confectionary company. Instead, it appeared he had transferred the firm to a shell company in the British Virgin Islands.
In subsequent statements, Poroshenko insisted that he had offshored Roshen to place it in a blind trust. He then announced a campaign of “de-offshorization” in Ukraine to fight tax evasion. But a new investigation by Hromadske’s Slidstvo.info investigative department and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) suggests the Ukrainian president himself was, indeed, attempting to avoid taxes.
In this latest global investigation more than 380 journalists from 67 countries sifted through the “Paradise Papers” — over 13 million documents received from the Bermuda office of the Appleby offshore legal services provider, firms in Singapore, and closed company registers from 19 countries.
The documents include correspondence between the Ukrainian law firm Avellum and Appleby that describes how “restructuring” Roshen will grant the company access to international markets and serve “tax purposes.”
In fact, Appleby even rejected working with Poroshenko, viewing the political situation in Ukraine as a reputational risk for the company.
For more on Poroshenko and the Paradise Papers, watch Slidstvo.info’s report. This investigation is a follow up to Slidstvo’s work on the Panama Papers.