Paradise (Papers) by the dashboard light

Carolyn Grant

The CRA is reviewing and will take appropriate action.” There’s a string of words to strike fear in your heart. The last thing you want is the Canada Revenue Agency reviewing anything that has anything to do with you.

Those words are likely striking a little fear in the hearts of the super-rich this week — that of course, is assuming that the super-rich actually have hearts. In any event, even if they don’t have hearts, they do have wallets, and keeping them stuffed full of money is a key priority for the super-rich.

That’s why last week’s huge leak of data, dubbed the Paradise Papers, has the super rich scrambling to explain their use of offshore tax havens and other creative ways they avoid taxes.

Taxes take the super out of being super-rich. They lump you in with the common man, who pays taxes or else. It’s quite bothersome really.

The names popping up in the thousands of pages of leaked documents include former Prime Ministers Martin, Chretien and Mulroney, and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser. Also ex, and some current, government people from all over — Iraq, Russia, Nigeria, Japan, Iceland. Also U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The Montreal Canadiens. The Queen!

Now I’m sure the Queen has minions to handle her vast fortune and is not personally involved in stashing money offshore, but it’s a bad look for Her Majesty.

There are currently 382 journalists in 67 countries, sitting in dark rooms, pouring over 1.4 terabytes of data, looking for interesting names, so do stay tuned.

And if I know anything about journalists, and I do, this bunch is absolutely salivating at the opportunity to be first to break the next big, super-rich name in the data dump. They will be sifting through those pages of the Paradise Papers with great enthusiasm, perhaps not aided by the dashboard light, but nonetheless, with zeal and vigor. And perhaps the occasional shot of straight whiskey.

Now, it’s no surprise to anyone that the super-rich generally don’t like to part with any of their money, hard earned or not. Paying taxes to fund our roads, bridges, our health care, and everything else that we rely on, is for the middle class. Being super-rich means you can afford a super-expensive lawyer/accountant, who brings a super skill set of tax avoidance shenanigans to the game.

Interestingly, it was the offshore law firm Appelby, from which most of this delicious data is being leaked.

Now among the super-rich being discovered on the list, there is an array of excuses, obfuscation and denial going on. Many, such as the Canadiens hockey club have stated that their offshore business (two trusts in Bermuda) was in full compliance with existing Canadian tax legislation. Others, such as Chretien, who apparently received 100,000 shares of an oil venture, denies receiving any shares although he did consult briefly for the company.

Still others, that being U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross, suggest there is evil afoot by golly, and that evil is being perpetrated by those questioning him.

Don’t question the super-rich! They know what they are about, you common maggot! You, who are not super-rich, cannot possibly understand the ordeal being super-rich is.

Secretary Ross, BTdubs, has also apparently manufactured much of his fortune. Forbes Magazine says that the $2 billion Ross claims to have simply does not exist. He does have $700 million, which to me is still super-rich, but he’s lying about the $2 billion, Forbes says. Or hiding it somewhere.

Hmm, turn up the dashboard light, I think I can see Paradise.

Carolyn Grant is Editor at the Kimberley Bulletin

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