According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev used a company registered in the British Virgin Islands to hide valuable works of art away from his former wife Elena. During their divorce proceedings the company apparently helped Rybolovlev to move paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh and Rothko out of Switzerland to London in order to keep them from Elena’s grasp.
In what is thought to be the biggest financial leak in history some 11million documents have been leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. As a result Dmitry Rybolovlev joins businessmen, world leaders, celebrities and politicians who have all had their financial wickedness revealed to the world.
The full extent of the revelation comes in an article published by the ICIJ yesterday. Before publishing their explosive article the ICIJ spent 12 months pouring over the 11 million documents which had been leaked to them from a Panama-based law firm (Mossack Fonseca) who specialise in the creation of offshore companies and wealth management services.
The ICIJ worked with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and 100 other news organisations around the world to analyse the data in what is said to be the biggest media collaboration ever undertaken.
The leaked documents have revealed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies which are connected to people in over 200 countries. The data which included emails, financial spreadsheets, passports and corporate records, revealed secret ownership of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions, including Nevada, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.
It’s taken me almost a day to read through the article posted at Panama papers.icil.org. It’s really bloody long and was written by people who seem to think that their identities are immune from scrutiny by airport security systems. Best of luck with your travel arrangements chaps.
Anyway, the article goes on and on and on but basically it all boils down to one thing…. ‘because I’m rich I don’t have to pay tax.’
Nobody likes to pay taxes. Even people who fight for tax increases don’t like to pay tax. Last year just three people in the entire world ticked the box [on their tax return] which indicates a willingness to pay more than the bare minimum of tax demanded. Nobody likes handing over money they’ve earned to an nondescript black tick box. It’s unnatural. That’s why they invented PAYE to take tax out of your pay cheque before you receive it.
But y’know what? We all have to pay our taxes. Eventually. After all somebody has to pay for the guns, margarine and Range Rovers the third world so desperately needs. Seriously, even beautiful models with fantastic tits who ordinarily get to avoid life’s burdens still have to pay their taxes.
Really, they do. Imagine how often Kate Moss would be sexually exploited in a prison shower if she didn’t pay her taxes.
And that brings me nicely round to the art connection.
Back in December 2008 Elena Rybolovlev filed for divorce from her husband Dmitry. At the time the Rybolovlevs were based in Switzerland which meant that under Swiss divorce laws each spouse was entitled to an equal part of the couple’s wealth.
Tracking down Dmitry Rybolovlev’s art collection was not easy. According to the documents Mossack Fonseca helped the Russian businessman transfer ownership of many of his art assets to Xitrans Finance Ltd, a company they set up for him in the British Virgin Islands.
The ICIJ article states that it was this off-shore firm who became the owners of paintings by Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Rothko. They also bought Louis XVI-style desks, tables and drawers made by some of Paris’s grandest furniture makers.
In January 2009, as the marriage broke down, Dmitry Rybolovlev used Xitrans Finance Ltd to move his art treasures out of Switzerland to Singapore, then to London and then far far away. Far away from his wife’s reach.
And there you have it. Billionaires doing what billionaires do best. Tax evasion, forced labour, extortion, more tax evasion and a shit load of super weird nastiness.
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