By David Robinson IBI PLus
The impact of the massive leak of offshore financial records, referred to as the ‘Paradise Papers’, and the arrest of 49 people in Saudi Arabia – including princes, ministers and wealthy business people – was the subject of intense analysis recently by key players in the superyacht industry.
Superyacht broking houses, legal practices and financial bodies are among those with yacht sector interests looking at what has already been made public and seeking to learn what more is to come.
The 13.4 million offshore records were obtained by a German newspaper and shared with a group of investigative journalists in 60-plus countries.
The main source of the Paradise Papers is global legal practice Appleby, which is headquartered in Bermuda but operates an international network of offices in places that include the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, BVI, Mauritius and the Seychelles. It is also represented in Shanghai.
Both the superyacht and commercial marine sectors are an important part of the work that Appleby does. Earlier this year, Appleby was the official legal partner of the America’s Cup. In the Isle of Man, it sponsors a yacht regatta and has links with a number of companies that provide services to the international superyacht market.
One of the people already mentioned in the coverage of the Paradise Papers is Lord Ashcroft, a UK billionaire and former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Ashcroft also has strong links with Belize, including, IBI understands, dual British and Belizean nationality, as well as two superyachts of around 46m (151ft) listed on the Belize shipping register. Details revealed by the Paradise Papers talk of an offshore holding called the Punta Gorda fund.
As for Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated his political position by having 49 people arrested related to investigations linked to corruption. The arrests include 11 princes, four ministers, several former ministers, and a number of wealthy business people. Once full details of the arrests are available, it will then be possible to see if any yacht owners are among them.
Several sports stars including Lewis Hamilton, recently crowned Formula One World Champion for the fourth time has also been mentioned. No doubt we haven’t heard the end of this yet !