13 Nov 2017
By Scilla Alecci, ICIJ
From film stars to famous manga artists, journalists working on the Paradise Papers investigation have followed the money to cities where the streets do have names – and where local authorities, in at least one case, were asking questions.
Files from the Maltese corporate registry revealed pop star Bono, born Paul Hewson, was a shareholder of a Malta-based entity that bought a shopping centre in a small town in Lithuania.
The company was later transferred to Guernsey, a jurisdiction that doesn’t charge tax on corporate profits.
After Lithuanian authorities announced a probe on the company’s business, Bono said that he welcomes the audit and that he has “been assured by those running the company that it is fully tax-compliant,” according to the Guardian.
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, better known as “Hips Don’t Lie” singer Shakira, might “make a man want to speak Spanish,” but files from the Paradise Papers show that the Colombian pop star was actually using the tiny island of Malta to transfer more than $30 million of music rights, according to Spanish paper El Confidencial.
Shakira was listed as the sole shareholder of the Maltese company which, her lawyers told reporters, “fulfils all legal requirements.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, pop singer Justin Timberlake and actress Nicole Kidman – recently named Australia’s richest celebrity – were both found in records from the corporate registry in the Bahamas, an island chain in the Caribbean.
The Guardian reported that they are linked to companies registered to buy properties on the island.
Queen of pop and world-famous “material girl” Madonna, was listed as a shareholder of a medical-supplies company in Bermuda, now closed. She did not respond to questions from ICIJ and its partners, and the purpose of the company remains unclear.
The use of offshore entities to manage private wealth and conduct business is not illegal.
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