Lewis Hamilton stays silent on Paradise Papers allegations

Lewis Hamilton addresses the media in Sao Paulo ahead of Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix
CNN  — 

Lewis Hamilton has barely had time to bask in the glow of winning his fourth Formula One world title following the recent scrutiny over his tax affairs.

But the Briton brushed aside talk about his financial arrangements ahead of Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, preferring to focus on the track.

“My team released a statement and I don’t have anything else to add to that,” Hamilton told reporters in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

“I’m planning to keep the pressure exactly the same as it’s been generally all year … my mentality coming into this weekend is to try and win.”

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A statement issued by one of Hamilton’s representatives earlier this week refuted the allegations, saying that the F1 driver’s tax arrangements were “above board.”

“As a global sportsman who pays tax in a large number of countries, Lewis relies upon a team of professional advisers who manage his affairs,” the statement said.

“Those advisers have assured Lewis that everything is above board and the matter is now in the hands of his lawyers.”

Documents relating to Hamilton’s purchase of a Bombardier Challenger 605 jet were revealed in the so-called Paradise Papers which were released last Sunday.

Reportedly aided by the offshore law firm Appleby, records purport to show that Hamilton received a $4.3m VAT (Value Added Tax) refund when the aircraft was imported to the Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency and an offshore tax haven.

The jet was entered into a complex series of leasing agreements which enable a full VAT refund based on business use. However, the BBC and the Guardian report the plane was also used by Hamilton for private flights. VAT refunds for private use of jets are banned under UK and European Union law.

The Paradise Papers were released when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its dozens of collaborating news outlets published investigations last Sunday. The reporting partners included the New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC.

The project, which is based on more than 13.4 million documents dated from 1950 to 2016, covers a large number of global corporations, government leaders, and prominent people and their use of offshore accounts to avoid taxes or otherwise hide ownership of assets.

The documents have not been independently reviewed by CNN.

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“The “BBC Panorama programme of 6th November and a number of media outlets continue to reference Appleby’s security incident as a data leak,” said Appleby in a statement earlier this week. “We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act and our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker.”

An Appleby statement said: “The journalists do not allege, nor could they, that Appleby has done anything unlawful. There is no wrongdoing. It is a patchwork quilt of unrelated allegations with a clear political agenda and movement against offshore.”

Hamilton, who clinched his fourth world drivers’ title at last month’s Mexico Grand Prix, has vowed not to take his foot off the gas in the remaining two races of the 2017 season.

“The championship is done, but there are still two races to go and it is important to win those two races to solidify what I have worked on this year,” Hamilton said earlier this week, ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit.

“If I was to sit back, relax and let someone else take the glory - sure it would be nice for them - but that is not what I am about.”