Bermuda named in report on Uber tax set-up
Bermuda is highlighted in the latest report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as a central location used by ride-share giant Uber in its tax planning.
The Uber Files project outlines how the ride-share company seized global market share in different jurisdictions, “how it used stealth technology and evasive practices to thwart regulators and law enforcement in at least six countries” and how it lobbied world leaders “to influence legislation and help it avoid taxes”.
The ICIJ is a global network of 280 investigative journalists in 100 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories, including the Paradise Papers, spawned from a cache of files stolen from a former unit of one of Bermuda’s premier law firms.
ICIJ partners and Appleby agreed to a 2018 settlement after the law firm sued The Guardian and the BBC.
The ICIJ’s latest investigation, published on Sunday, emanates from a leak of sensitive communications among high-level Uber executives and government officials from some 30 countries.
Journalists say it provides a never-before-seen understanding of Uber’s defiance of taxi laws and the upending of workers’ rights.
The report states that the company used Russian oligarchs as a way into the Kremlin and “engaged in international power struggles with taxi drivers and legislators opposed to its expansion”.
With specific respect to Bermuda, the report states: “As Uber fought to set up shop in cities around the globe, it saved millions of dollars in taxes by routing profits through Bermuda and other offshore jurisdictions.
“The confidential documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper by an anonymous source, show that Uber sought to deflect attention from its tax liabilities by helping authorities collect taxes from its drivers.
“The Guardian shared the Uber Files documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a non-profit newsroom and network of journalists based in Washington DC, and with other media organisations, to facilitate an international investigation.”
The Guardian was also involved in the project dubbed The Paradise Papers, which was eventually labelled by ICIJ as an “investigation into the use of offshore tax havens by some of the world’s richest and most powerful individuals and companies”.
The ICIJ reported in 2018 that a confidential settlement led to an agreed statement that the parties had “resolved their differences” in relation to Appleby’s breach-of-confidence claim concerning the leak.
The consortium said: “Appleby said it wanted to know which of its confidential documents had been taken so that it could ‘respond meaningfully’ to clients, regulators and colleagues about them.
“The statement said The Guardian and the BBC had, ‘without compromising their journalistic integrity’, assisted Appleby by explaining which of its documents may have underpinned their journalism.“