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Magda Skrzypek
Media development worker

Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and other tech-focused topics.

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piqer: Magda Skrzypek
Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Paradise Papers: How Kremlin Plough Money Into Twitter And Facebook

What do Apple, Facebook, Queen Elizabeth II, Bono, Trump's commerce secretary and the Kremlin have in common? They all choose to hide their wealth in offshore accounts, as revealed by the Paradise Papers made public on Monday. Obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 13.4m files from offshore service providers and tax havens' company registries expose a murky world of controversial tax havens.

But the investigation also sheds light on something that could be of use in the federal investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. The leaked documents reveal that a Russian businessman Yuri Milner used hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kremlin to make large investments in Facebook and Twitter.

"Obscured by a maze of offshore shell companies, the Twitter investment was backed by VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank often used for politically strategic deals. And a big investor in Mr. Milner’s Facebook deal received financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents," writes the New York Times.

Although both stakes have been sold off and there are no indications that Mr Milner or his companies had any connection to the election meddling, the revelation is likely to put more pressure on the social media giants to reveal the full scope of their interactions with Moscow entities.

The angle focused on Milner's investment in Facebook and Twitter shows how much information is hidden in the world's second biggest data leak. The Panama Papers investigation into the offshore secrets of the wealthy has been awarded a prestigious Pulitzer prize. The Paradise Papers and the journalists around the world who managed to find small leads like this when going through the data deserve the same recognition.

The Paradise Papers: How Kremlin Plough Money Into Twitter And Facebook
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