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Paradise Papers: Bono used Malta-based company to invest in Lithuanian shopping mall, tax leak reveals

Spokesperson for U2 frontman categorically denies any wrongdoing

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Monday 06 November 2017 10:50
Queen's offshore tax investments exposed in leaked Paradise Papers

Bono was among the high profile figures named in the "Paradise Papers" leak, where it was revealed that he used a Malta-based company to invest in a Lithuanian shopping centre.

The 13.4 million files, which were obtained after law firm Appleby was hacked, show the complex financial dealings of some of the richest people in the world.

The documents - 1.4 terabytes of data worth - come from the company registries of 19 tax havens and two offshore service providers. The leak took place less than two years after the Panama Papers scandal, which caused uproar after revealing how dozens of well-known figures hid their wealth in offshore funds.

The Queen's private estate, Tory donor Lord Michael Ashcroft, Cabinet members, and one of Donald Trump's closest advisors were among those to have their offshore investments revealed in the Paradise Papers, which is the second-biggest data leak in history.

U2 frontman Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, was an investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Aušra shopping mall for £5.1m shortly after it opened in 2007.

Nude Estates then transferred ownership to Nude Estates 1, a company based in Guernsey.

Malta is a famously low-tax jurisdiction, where firms pay tax at just 5 per cent. Guernsey imposes no tax on company profits.

A spokesperson for Bono categorically denied any wrongdoing by the artist.

They told the Guardian: "Bono was a passive, minority investor in Nude Estates Malta Ltd, a company that was legally registered in Malta until it was voluntarily wound up in 2015.

"Malta is a well-established holding company jurisdiction within the EU."

She added that Bono was also a passive, minority investor in the Guernsey company linked to the shopping mall.

Bono, while know for extensive work with multiple charities including UNICEF, One Campaign and Make Poverty History, has previously faced criticism over his tax dealings.

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Critics have claimed that the artist could have helped to eliminate poverty in Ireland if U2's tax based remained in their home country.

However the band instead often choose to send their money via the Netherlands, which has reportedly increased their profits thanks to the country's tax rates.

Bono has made no apologies for the previous revelations over his tax affairs. In 2012 he said U2 paid "a fortune in tax".

Speaking about an earlier decision by the band to run some business through the Netherlands, he said it was "just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we're taxed. And that's just one of our companies, by the way. There's loads of companies."

U2's headline slot at Glastonbury in 2011 saw protestors attend the festival with a banner which read: "U Pay Tax 2."

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