JAKARTA: Indonesia’s second-largest pulp and paper firm routed billions of dollars through a network of offshore shell companies, likely to minimize its tax burden in the Southeast Asian country, where it has drained vast swaths of carbon-rich peatland in order to establish vast timber estates. The company, APRIL, also sought the removal of an environmental condition from a $600 million loan it received from major banks in 2011.
The revelations were published last week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as part of its reporting on the Paradise Papers, a leak of 13.4 million files that shine new light on how the world’s richest individuals and corporations hide their wealth in secrecy jurisdictions. Most of the documents come from the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby. They were leaked to a pair of reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the ICIJ and its media partners around the world.
“[APRIL] has shuffled billions of dollars through a web of offshore companies stretching from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. … Experts told ICIJ that such arrangements often shift taxable profits away from jurisdictions that bear the social costs of resource exploitation to others that simply charge lower taxes,” the article reads.
“They also said that the use of shell companies in loan transactions enables banks to claim only limited involvement with natural resources companies that flout environmental laws. When loans are provided to offshore subsidiaries, identifying responsible parties and holding them to account becomes much harder.”