SAO PAULO – British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who recently became a three-time Formula One world champion, said on Wednesday that he was focusing on the Brazilian Grand Prix and not on news reports linking him the “Paradise Papers” investigation of prominent individuals who used offshore tax havens.
“I’ve come from this great period of time with my family and friends that have this huge wave of positivity. Nothing can really dent that,” the 32-year-old Hamilton said. “I am solely focused on the race this weekend, and we have two races to go. That doesn’t distract me from my core values and what I am here to do.”
Hamilton is one of the numerous individuals, including Queen Elizabeth II, identified in an investigation conducted by nearly 100 media outlets of tax avoidance schemes using offshore tax havens.
“There are many different stories around, but I don’t have anything to add to the whole scenario that has happened,” Hamilton said in a press conference ahead of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track.
Hamilton, according to the documents, allegedly avoided paying 3.3 million pounds ($4.3 million) in taxes on the purchase of a private plane by structuring the deal via the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency with low taxes.
“I have just come back from an eight-day holiday with close family and friends, and had the best time ever,” Hamilton said. “It was just amazing to be able to share this great experience of winning the world championship with these people who have been a part of my life.”
The investigation, which was conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), involved 382 journalists from nearly 100 media outlets.
The ICIJ team analyzed more than 13 million documents from offshore tax havens covering a 70-year period from 1950 to 2016.
The leaked documents were from the Appleby and Asiatici Trust Law Firm and received by Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, which called in the ICIJ to examine them.
The documents are from 19 jurisdictions on the worldwide list of tax havens: Antigua & Barbuda; Aruba; the Bahamas; Barbados; Bermuda; the Cayman Islands; the Cook Islands; Dominica; Grenada; Labuan; Lebanon; Malta; the Marshall Islands; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent; Samoa; Trinidad and Tobago; and Vanuatu.
Among the leaders and other public figures linked to the offshore tax havens, according to the ICIJ’s analysis, are Queen Elizabeth II; US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder; and Stephen Bronfman, a big fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election campaign, among others.