The Paradise Papers detailing the offshore activities of the world’s richest companies and individuals features former poker-pro-turned-politician Antanas Guoga, known to us as Tony G.
As the world starts to digest the corporate affairs of international business leaders, the poker community has been given a glimpse into the Tony G’s dealings away from the table. He, along with Sheldon Adelson and Steven Wynn, was among a group of gaming industry power players included in the document dump.
On Sunday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a report dubbed the “Paradise Papers,” after reviewing information from 13.4 million documents obtained by offshore legal services agency Appleby. This work follows 2015’s “Panama Papers,” which shed light on how some of the world’s wealthy legally hide cash offshore.
Findings from the ICIJ’s latest data dive found that Guoga was involved in two businesses of note, only one of which he declared on disclosure forms with the European Parliament. The ICIJ’s work is just an exercise in transparency, and the organization insists inclusion is not an automatic allegation of wrongdoing.
“There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts,” the ICIJ wrote with their release. “We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”
Tony G Beyond the Table
The Paradise Papers revealed what has hardly been secret in poker circles for many years, that Guoga was a major investor in iBus Media Ltd, the company behind Pokernews. Alongside PokerStars cofounder Mark Scheinberg, Guoga had an early stake in iBus, but didn’t have a hand in daily operations. A filing from Appleby shows that G sold his stake in the company in 2015.
This information, according to Lithuanian news outlet 15min.lt, was made publicly available prior to Guoga’s move into politics.
Tony G also owns a Maltese company known as SG Holdings. This information hadn’t previously been disclosed before the former poker pro from Lithuania became a member of the European parliament. The type of business SG Holdings engages in also wasn’t immediately clear.
Although investment in offshore companies isn’t illegal, Guoga could be called to explain why he didn’t disclose his business interest in Malta.
Adelson and Wynn Under the Spotlight
Beyond the financial dealings of Tony G, the Paradise Papers also note offshore business interests of casino magnates Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, both of whom the report identified as key influencers of US President Donald Trump who have used companies outside of the US to move funds.
Ahead of his entry into Macau in 2006, Wynn incorporated two companies on the Isle of Man, widely considered a tax haven. He registered Wynn Resorts (Macau) Holdings Ltd., which then owned a company in Hong Kong that controlled another company overseeing the Macau development.
Memos between Wynn Resorts and Appleby confirm that the companies were connected through a series of loans that were “exempt from taxation” in the Isle of Man.
Similarly, leaked documents show that Adelson owns a Bermudian company that offers private jet services. Known as Interface Operations Bermuda Ltd., the company provides aviation services to Adelson’s main business interest, Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Bermuda doesn’t impose corporate tax on registered companies conducting business outside of the country and the report shows that Adelson paid “tens of millions” from his casino business to Interface Operations between 2010 and 2016.
While the Paradise Papers aren’t suggesting that anyone listed has committed a crime, the issue of corporate tax avoidance is ever-present in the media and the report is likely to add more fuel to this fire.