Prominent Republican, Democrat party donors connected to offshore holdings, Paradise Papers show

Wednesday, 08 November 2017, 02:15:25 AM. A leak of offshore records provides a glimpse into the finances of Republican and Democratic contributors – including a banking magnate who quietly held an ownership stake in an embattled payday lender.
In June 2013, the Wall Street Journal asked Republican mega-donor Warren Stephens about the state of small businesses in the United States. The Arkansas banking mogul said they were being squeezed by excessive federal regulation and singled out one agency: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "The stories we hear about that are pretty scary," the billionaire said. Here is what was not mentioned. The same federal watchdog that Stephens referred to, the CFPB, was investigating the practices of an online payday lender that had been part of his business empire. Leaked offshore financial records reveal that Stephens had quietly used a set of family trust funds to own a large stake in the parent of the loan company, Integrity Advance, during the time in which the federal agency alleges that the lender ripped off tens of thousands of consumers. The agency says Integrity Advance broke the law by misleading borrowers about the high costs of their loans and aggressively siphoning money out of their bank accounts. Details of Stephens' links to the payday lender were uncovered in a joint reporting effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media partners around the world, including CBC News. The reporters drew from a cache of nearly seven million leaked files from the offshore law firm Appleby Global and corporate services provider Estera, two businesses that operated together under the Appleby name until Estera became independent in 2016. The...Read more
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