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Trump ally Robert Kraft revealed as longtime owner of offshore firm


The New England Patriots billionaire boss is among several major US sports team owners who appear in the Paradise Papers

Donald Trump likes to style Robert Kraft as his blue-collar conscience a whisperer to the white working-class football fans whose support he craves.

Trump has said that Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, urged him to tax the rich people and take care of the poor. During a Super Bowl celebration at the White House in April, Kraft hailed hard work as the essence of America.

Kraft, who donated $1m to Trumps inaugural celebrations, claims he buys his coffee at Dunkin Donuts, not Starbucks and pays for those in line behind him.

Kraft gives Trump a New England Patriots jersey at the White House in April after their Super Bowl win. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

At the same time, files leaked in the Paradise Papers reveal, Kraft has for more than two decades quietly owned an offshore company that could be used to legally avoid or reduce US taxes.

The 76-year-old chairman of the reigning Super Bowl champions is identified deep within a June 2012 file as the owner of a holding company and bank accounts on the Atlantic tax haven of Bermuda.

Kraft is one of several owners of major US sports teams to appear in the leak through involvement in firms in tax havens. Wealthy bosses at franchises in the NFL, NBA and NHL are named in the leaked files as senior figures at firms incorporated in zero-tax jurisdictions such as Bermuda, the Bahamas and Barbados. Several have, like Kraft, made significant donations to political campaigns at home.

Also named among the leaked files are the NBA team owners Micky Arison of the Miami Heat and Steve Pagliuca of the Boston Celtics, along with Peter Karmanos of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team.

The Miami Heat owner Micky Arison. Photograph: Michael Cohen/Getty Images

A spokesperson for Kraft said the Bermuda company had been established to do business with certain customers, which the spokesperson declined to identify. The spokesperson insisted the offshore vehicle dealt with relatively small sums.

These entities are not organized or maintained for any reason other than to facilitate doing business in any particular location and decisions are not income tax motivated, said the spokesperson.

Trump left his own Super Bowl party at half-time in February, when his favoured Patriots were down 21 points to 3. His early departure meant he missed one of the great sporting comebacks of all time.

But the president made sure to bask in the glory when Kraft brought his victorious team to the White House a couple of months later. Kraft, a longtime friend, presented a Trump 45 shirt to the 45th president, along with a personal Super Bowl ring.

In remarks at the event, Kraft spoke of toil and perseverance as the foundation of everything that is great about this country. But his financial arrangements have not always been so flag-waving.

Krafts Bermuda firm was incorporated as a branch of International Forest Products, a wood and paper exporting division in his privately held Kraft Group. The Bermuda vehicle is an investment holding company, meaning it collects returns on investments or property rather than trading in goods or services.

The June 2012 document was produced by Appleby, a corporate services company that handles administration for Krafts firm. Internal communications show that Applebys executives classed Kraft as a PEP client a politically exposed person whose affairs should be handled with particular care.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/09/donald-trump-robert-kraft-owner-offshore-firm-new-england-patriots-paradise-papers

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