Weekly Review — November 7, 2017, 4:12 pm

Weekly Review

Paradise lost

Millions of confidential files stolen from a Bermuda-based law firm detailed the offshore holdings and transactions of more than 120 politicians around the world, revealing that the Queen of England invested millions in a corporation in the Cayman Islands whose portfolio includes a retail company that has been accused of using hard-sell tactics on poor customers; that a former president of the UN General Assembly was the owner of a trust that held shares in a company in the Seychelles that he said he thought he could use to “avoid” but not evade taxes; that a former chancellor of Austria was a director of a company registered in Malta that held shares in another Maltese company whose shareholders included his campaign advisor, who was once arrested on charges of money laundering; that a former member of the Ukrainian parliament was the sole shareholder of a company registered in Malta that paid no taxes on assets valued at $6.6 million in 2014; that a former minister of energy and finance in Kazakhstan, who fled the country in 2009 after $10 billion was discovered missing from the bank he chaired, opened a trust in the Cayman Islands in 2007; that a former president of Costa Rica sat with an advisor to former US president Bill Clinton on the board of a renewable energy company incorporated in Bermuda that was bought by an Italian company for $73 million; that a former US commerce secretary transferred her shares in two Bermuda-based firms to a Delaware company owned by trusts for her children and then wrote on a federal ethics form that the shares had been sold; that the current US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross holds a stake in an offshore shipping company that is partnered with the son-in-law of Russian president Vladimir Putin; that a former prime minister of Canada served with a foreign policy advisor to former UK prime minister Margret Thatcher as directors of a Bermuda-based company which helped the United Kingdom trade arms to Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil; that another former prime minister of Canada owned shares in an oil-drilling company registered in Bermuda that went public in 2010 with a valuation of $284 million; and that a third former prime minister of Canada owned a Bermuda-registered business which held shares in two shipping companies based in Barbados, a country he had exempted from offshore tax reform while serving as finance minister. “We’ll take every appropriate action,” said current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on doing a “better job” going after “tax avoiders,” and whose chief fundraiser was shown to own an offshore trust in the Cayman Islands that he may have used to avoid taxes in Canada, Israel, and the United States.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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