Skip to main content

tv   Britains Offshore Secrets Exposed -...  BBC News  November 10, 2017 3:30am-4:01am GMT

3:30 am
this march we were invited to a secret meeting in munich. we don't talk about what we are doing. the documents were leaked to the german newspaper seddeutsche zeitung. we don't talk to our friends or families or our colleagues. they are sharing the documents with the international consortium of investigative journalist. in the uk that's panorama and the guardian. the more journalists are looking at the information, the more stories that emerge. it's going to be very interesting to the public because this is the kind of information that's never come out before. the leak has been called the paradise papers. secret contracts, agreements and deals that we were never supposed to see. over the next two nights,
3:31 am
panorama will show you the hidden stories. the paradise papers contain some of the biggest names in britain. some at the very heart of the establishment. including one who lives here. our very own queen is investing offshore. the queen's investments, handled by the duchy of lancaster. now, because of the files, we can see exactly where some of that money is going. they reveal millions of pounds of secret offshore investments. it's £10 million in tax havens.
3:32 am
perfectly legal and no suggestion the duchy‘s avoiding tax. but should the monarch‘s cash really be offshore, a place of lax regulation, low tax and secrecy? if the money has been invested in a tax haven i would have thought it would be extremely embarrassing for the queen and the royal family. we expect higher standards of the queen, in terms of where their investments are located. half of the 10 million was invested in the cayman islands, a tax haven where the queen is head of state. now, we can't see where all the money went, but the documents show that duchy invested in medical and technology companies and two british high street retailers. one was the off—licence chain thresher. it went bust, owing £17
3:33 am
million to the taxman. the other was the small amount in the rent to buy retailer bright house. two weeks ago it was fined nearly £15 million for irresponsible lending. she's in. now, the duchy didn't give us a figure for threshers, but said its investment in bright house currently equates to over £3208. it says: it's so obvious that if you're looking after the money of the monarchy you've got to be actually cleaner than clean and you must never go into the dirty world of money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.
3:34 am
there's a lot more about the british establishment in the paradise papers. i, michael, lord ashcroft, do swear by almighty god that i will be faithful and bear truly... lord ashcroft has given more than £10 million to the conservative party. and the billionaire was also the party's treasurer and its deputy chairman. for the last 20 years, lord ashcroft has been one of the most significant donors to the conservative party. he's also been very important organisationally. hugely significant. but our documents reveal the scale of lord ashcroft‘s tax avoidance. how he ignored financial rules and repeatedly misled the public. evidence from the papers could leave him facing a tax bill
3:35 am
of tens of millions. lord ashcroft‘s tax status became a political scandal in 2010. lord ashcroft, deputy chairman of the conservative party, has confirmed that he doesn't pay tax in the uk on most of his foreign earnings. it went on for ten years while he was sitting in the house of lords. 0ur documents show for the first time how much cash lord ashcroft was receiving in those years. look at the payments — the money kept coming. they total around $200 million. and lord ashcroft didn't have to pay a penny in tax. you can be an offshore financier, you can live a meaningless life in some ghastly tax haven and have nothing to do with britain,
3:36 am
but what he appears to be doing is having the best of both worlds. being an offshore person, not paying british tax, and then dabbling mischievously and having great influence on british politics. all those payments came from something lord ashcroft set up, the punta gorda trust, which had assets worth up to almost £500 million. trusts have, over time, become ways for rich people to put their assets inside a legal fortress and still be able to benefit from them and control them. the trust was run from appleby‘s office, here in bermuda. lord ashcroft could legally avoid tax on payments from the trust so long as he followed the rules. and the most important rule is that independent trustees
3:37 am
oversee the trust. but the documents show the trustees were worried about how lord ashcroft was behaving. as you go through the e—mails, you do get this rising sense of frustration that lord ashcroft is not playing by the rules. this one puts it pretty simply: the trustees even issue a warning for lord ashcroft. that looks like lord ashcroft controlling the trust and expecting the trustees to rubberstamp his decisions. the trustees are worried. the trustees are expressing alarm
3:38 am
about that and that's a clear red flag. 0n the evidence i've seen, it looks like something that is abusive behaviour and an abusive structure. if lord ashcroft was making the decisions, he could face a huge tax bill. he's risking undoing those avoided taxes and putting himself on the hook for penalties and back taxes and what have you by meddling with the trust assets without having the trustees sign off the way they are supposed to. i've come to the conservative party conference. we sent letters to lord ashcroft‘s home and his office, but they were sent back to us unread and unopened, as you can see. but we did get an e—mail from his public relations man, an extraordinary message.
3:39 am
in it he says lord ashcroft has access to this letter, he could read it at any time, but he makes it quite clear that this will never happen. lord ashcroft said he wouldn't respond because of the unfair way panorama had treated him in the past. so i tracked him down. lord ashcroft, hi. i'm richard bilton. i work for panorama. can i grab a quick word? i've been trying to send you these letters but you wouldn't take them. sir, could i have a quick word with you? did you have tens of millions in an offshore trust that you secretly controlled, sir? did that mean that you could avoid millions in tax through that trust? lord ashcroft, why don't you just talk to me? it would be great to hear your view. it was the punta gorda trust, lord ashcroft. sir, the punta gorda was the trust in which you made some dear, dear, dear, dear... "dear, dear, dear", is that your response? it was the punta gorda trust, sir, and you made some decisions and the trustees... we're up to quite a lot of "dears" now, sir. it would be great to know your view. if you did control...
3:40 am
i'm really keen to get your view. yeah, yeah... dear, dear, dear, dear... really keen to get your view. just give me your view. this is the way to do it. do you think if you did have money in that trust, you could, sir, face a big tax... we are going for a walk, we are holding hands. this is lovely, this is what i hoped, just the chance to talk to you, sir. where are we going to end up? this is great. why don't just stop and answer my questions? it'll take one minute. did you, sir, have tens of millions in an offshore trust that you secretly controlled? yes or no, sir? is that yes or no, sir? and, therefore, did you avoid millions by having your money in that trust? did you, sir? because if you did, you could face a big tax bill. sir, where are we going? this is amazing. we've been walking for about two minutes. why don't you just give me your view, sir? why don't you just give me your view? we could have been sponsored! we've done about a mile and a half. why do you just tell me your view? it would be really nice to get your view. sir?
3:41 am
sir, just give me your view. did you secretly control a trust in which you had tens of millions, therefore avoiding tax? did you do that? did you do that, sir? it would be great to know. where are we going? this is brilliant. i don't know where we're going to end up. i'm not going to follow you in there, sir. i've never quite had a chat quite like that. so we just want to have a word with mr ashcroft. he said "dear, dear, dear" about, i dunno, about 200 times. lord ashcroft‘s lawyers later said that i started shouting something at him, by which time lord ashcroft had walked away and heard nothing. "lord ashcroft did not have a clue as to what was being said to him." there's one last lord ashcroft revelation. after the scandal of 2010,
3:42 am
he continued to sit in the house of lords. it seemed he had finally become an ordinary taxpayer for good. but this document about his tax status reveals he didn't. it says lord ashcroft‘s true domicile is belize. it's legal but, once again, we'd all been mislead. i think it's very important that people who play a role in our public life are straightforward about their dealings. i think it's a major political explosion. it will raise huge questions about notjust the conservatives but also the house of lords. so what about appleby, the company that oversaw lord ashcroft‘s trusts? they say "appleby does not specialise in tax and would play no role in advising the tax
3:43 am
advantages or disadvantages of any particular structure." "these are confidential and commercially sensitive documents relating to appleby and its clients. " it isn'tjust the british establishment. the paradise papers also reveal new details about america's biggest political scandal. mr president, did you conspire with agents of the russian government to steal the election? you can talk all you want about russia, which was all a, you know, fake news... i will tell you right now, zero — i have nothing to do with russia. we have discovered that a senior member of trump's cabinet has been quietly trading with the russians. he's a billionaire called wilbur ross.
3:44 am
they became close after donald trump bought a casino in atlantic city in the 80s. donald trump gave michaeljackson a personal tour of his $1.2 billion extravaganza. the deal pushed donald trump to the brink of bankruptcy. wilbur ross stepped in to save him. wilbur ross was a key negotiator in donald trump not having to go through bankruptcy and not being swept into the dustbin of history. if it hadn't been for wilbur ross, donald trump wouldn't be in the white house. when he became president, donald trump nominated wilbur ross to be his commerce secretary. but our documents show a different side to wilbur ross. the man in charge of us trade policy had dozens of companies
3:45 am
in tax havens. appleby, it turns out, helped create and manage some 50 companies and partnerships that were connected to wilbur ross‘ investment firm. wilbur ross said he cut ties with businesses that could compromise his new role in the us government. your service has resulted in your divesting yourself of literally hundreds of millions of dollars. you did it to avoid any conflicts of interest, correct? that is correct, sir. we don't think that is correct. we've discovered that he has a stake in a shipping company called navigator holdings. one of its major clients is sibur, a russian energy company that has close links to the kremlin.
3:46 am
vladimir putin's son—in—law is a shareholder. another is gennady timchenko, one of putin's oldest friends. whenever you see a major energy company, in particular, that is controlled by oligarchs, as this one is, with such close connections to the russian state, you have to realise that you are doing business notjust with a private company, but in some sense with the government of russia. in 2014, mr timchenko was sanctioned by the us government, who said "his activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to putin." but mr ross kept his ties to the company. if i were in the business of consulting, which i'm not, i would advise any client to stay well away from sibur. and you don't want to get known as somebody who plays footsie, or walks right up to the line, with sanctioned individuals.
3:47 am
if you know anything about the russians, it's that under the current system, it's easy to get dirty. don't go there, man. thank you. greatjob. thank you everybody. mr ross says he never owned a majority of navigator shares, and has never met gennady timchenko or putin's son—in—law. he points out sibur is not subject to sections, and he says he's taken steps to ensure the highest ethical standards. when you're in a position to profit, even indirectly, in this case, from a very well—connected russian firm, and you, as the investor in charge of us trade policy, and have a voice in the sanctions, anybody looking at that will imagine there is a potential conflict, there.
3:48 am
and it's wayne rooney! great finish! everton—arsenal from a couple of weeks ago. what a fall! a thrilling advert for british football. but what we've found in the paradise papers raises serious questions about our national game. what if one man and his money were secretly linked to both of these clubs? this is alisher usmanov, another billionaire who's close to vladimir putin. he is one of britain's richest men, and owns one of london's most expensive houses — and 30% of arsenal, one of britain's most valuable clubs. we being a new era for arsenal, where we win trophies.
3:49 am
this is important for football. but we think some of his money may have also ended up in everton. half—time, and it is 1—1 and both sets of fans a desperate put their team to win. the story centres on this man, and begins a decade ago. farhad moshiri used to work for mr usmanov as an accountant. now, he's a tycoon who's just bought everton. so where did his wealth come from? well, the story starts with mr usmanov and mr moshiri buying a joint stake in arsenal back in 2007. but the documents suggest mr usmanov paid for the whole stake. this one shows his company, epion holdings, providing the funds.
3:50 am
mr moshiri's lawyers eventually admitted that was true, but said he put his own money into arsenal later. the documents go further. they include a gift from alisher usmanov to farhad moshiri for the arsenal deal. that matters, because nearly a decade later, mr moshiri sold his interest in arsenal to raise capital to purchase everton. it looks like that capital originally came from mr usmanov. so this document shows mr moshiri... we showed our evidence to the former head of the fa. right. who will then gift the money to farhad moshiri, who will in turn invest in the company. it will be interesting
3:51 am
to see whether that breaks the premier league rules. my instinct is that if the premier league knew this, they would do — they would have done or they will do their own investigation. they would have to be are convinced that this was an above the board transaction, and it was not all mr usmanov‘s money. there need to be questions asked. i believe the premier league would want to look at the whole relationship between the two men and the two clubs. but at the everton—arsenal game, the great goals keep coming. sanchez going all the way! and everton are being taught a footballing lesson here by arsenal, whose striker... but what is going on and off the pitch? mr moshiri's lawyers insist he is independently wealthy, but he hadn't answered our questions about whether his source of wealth
3:52 am
was a gift from mr usmanov. farhad moshiri, is alisher usmanov the real owner of everton, sir? i'm from the bbc. you're crazy. have you seen a psychiatrist? it came from alisher usmanov, didn't it? it was a gift, initially? where did you get this idea? is that true or not, sir? it's untrue. it's untrue? it is not a gift. say it came as a gift, the money and you invested in arsenal, then sold your shares in arsenal... your word is wrong. a gift it makes it yours, right? right. you're saying it he loaned — loaned 100 million to you, right? he has never loaned me anything. it's you, sir. right, but so if it was a loan, you owe the money back to him. right. if it was a gift, it's yours. which was it, sir?
3:53 am
neither of them, because i paid for it. so if it's a gift, it's a gift. if i give my friend £5, whose is it? it's his. but would they be happy if the premier league saw how the money went through... they have all the information. instead of asking me, ask them. they have every piece of information. thank you, sir. his club, everton, say details of farhad moshiri's purchase were approved by the premier league. but we don't think they've seen our documents about where the money came from in the first place. mr moshiri's lawyers later strongly denied he received a gift from mr usmanov, who also denies giving it. mr moshiri says all the documents that mention a gift are a mistake. but this document describes how mr usmanov will gift money to him. and these public documents seem to show it happening.
3:54 am
5a million cypriot pounds, that is 63 million in sterling, went from mr usmanov to mr moshiri's company in 2008. mr moshiri claims it had nothing to do with the arsenal deal, and was part of an employee incentive scheme, a loan he'd later paid back. there's more in the papers that suggests mr usmanov could be involved in everton. this is the isle of man, home to the financial company that administered the everton deal, bridgewaters. now, one of their responsibilities is to carry out checks, due diligence, on their clients and companies. but one document from 2007 says bridgewaters is actually owned by mr usmanov. here is an email about mr usmanov,
3:55 am
and it says the client — mr usmanov — has bought a trust company in the isle of man called bridgewaters. if this is true, if usmanov actually owns the company, then it's an outrageous conflict of interest. it is like owning the police that is supposed to police you. both bridgewaters and mr usmanov strongly deny it's secretly controlled by the billionaire. mr usmanov‘s lawyers say he has "no say, control, or influence in the running of everton football club." "our client does not and never has owned or controlled everton." but the more we looked for connections between mr usmanov and everton, the more we found.
3:56 am
the company that owns everton football club, blue heaven holdings, was set up by bridgewaters, and its registered agent, bridgewaters two. and one of its directors is an employee of — you guessed it — bridgewaters. and the other director? well, he works for mr usmanov. tomorrow night, more revelations from the paradise papers: the island that changed the law to help tax dodgers. what will you say it to our viewers who pay their tax? the millionaires that can live the high life
3:57 am
because they don't pay tax. why don't you just tell us your side of the story? so you — why did you, though — are you dodging tax? hey! and the tv stars on the tax fiddle. can you tell me about your tax structure? you get paid in mauritius, don't you? what's all that all about? hi there. colder air working on across the uk. cloudy and patchy rain in the south. in the sun comes out. showers in northern and western areas. snow over the mountains of scotland above 300 metres. a range of temperatures, from 12 in london to six or seven in northern scotland. 0vernight we have heavy rain pushing into northern ireland, across england and wales for a time. further showers in scotland. pockets of frost in
3:58 am
northern scotland in shelter. a couple of icy stretches to watch out for the take us into the first part of saturday. rain around in southern areas. 0ddly becoming confined the west. a miserable start to the weekend. —— probably becoming confined. showers draped around northern and western areas. cold in the north. temperatures around six 01’ the north. temperatures around six or seven degrees. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: farewell to beijing — donald trump leaves china and heads to vietnam — for the opening of the apec summit. yemen faces the worst famine the world has seen in decades. that's the warning from the united nations. power play in zimbabwe — a leading contender to replace robert mugabe is sacked and forced to flee the country. and who would take on a massive wave like this? incredibly, many surfers do. we talk to one who onlyjust survived to tell the tale. president trump is due to arrive
3:59 am
in vietnam shortly for a summit
4:00 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on