06/11/2017 06:44 SAST | Updated 06/11/2017 06:44 SAST

South Africans Named In Paradise Papers Leak

South Africans have been named in a huge leak into the use of offshore tax havens.

REUTERS/Stigtryggur Johannsson
People demonstrate against Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in Reykjavik, Iceland on April 4, 2016 after a leak of documents by so-called Panama Papers stoked anger over his wife owning a tax haven-based company with large claims on the country's collapsed banks.

Several South African companies and prominent people feature in a new, international expose detailing how the rich stash their money in offshore tax havens, Business Day reported on Monday.

In the biggest leak of its kind since the Panama Papers, a new investigation featuring journalists from across the globe has revealed 13.4million documents from more than 19 tax secrecy jurisdictions. Most of these relate to law firm Appleby.

This leak, called the Paradise Papers, highlights cases of tax abuse and questionable tax practices, Business Day reported.

While it is not a crime to be listed in these jurisdictions, Business Day reported that several companies with links to South Africa are Appleby clients, including Glencore and Standard Bank. Banks including Investec have offices in offshore tax secrecy jurisdictions, as well as Shanduka, the company in which Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa held a stake until 2014, the paper reported.

Director for Corruption Watch, David Lewis, told Business Day that it is not illegal to put money in tax havens, but the problem was the abuse of this practice by companies who did so to avoid paying taxes in their host countries.

Former president Thabo Mbeki previously headed a high-level AU panel which found that about $50-billion was lost to Africa annually because of illicit financial outflows. The panel reportedly found that tax havens were at the root of the problem.

According to The Guardian, the Paradise Papers reveal the financial dealings of the Queen of England, and those of Donald Trumps's cabinet members.

The leak reportedly reveals how millions from the queen's private estate are invested in a tax haven, and how substantial amounts from a company owned by Vladimir Putin's son-in-law were paid to the shipping group of the US commerce secretary.