Pandora’s Papers: Famous Celebrities Benefited from Tax Havens

The names of many famous people appear in Pandora’s Leaves Escape, which removes the veil on how they can take advantage of corporate structures in tax-permissive jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands or the Bahamas, to obtain property or cash in their income, according to an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is Radio Canada is a partner.

Pandora Papers, which was revealed on Sunday, revealed a massive leak of nearly 12 million documents from 14 companies that provide incorporation services overseas. nicknames Billionaires, politicians and criminals over there. Many of them have He sought to deny the first reports on Monday One of the ICIJ’s partner media that interviewed them.

These offshore companies are often located in countries or territories where the tax rate is minimal or even zero. Registering such a company through a specialized company can cost a few hundred dollars, and the secrecy offered by tax havens can sometimes obscure the identity of its true owner, allowing those who keep it to hide their assets from the public and possibly from the authorities.

These maneuvers can allow celebrities or other wealthy people to avoid paying taxes in the countries in which they live, often completely legally.

The documents show that in several cases, key stakeholders have been able to save hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in taxes. Taxes that can be used exclusively to finance public services, whether for health or infrastructure.

Here are some of the super-rich celebrities featured in this massive leak of classified financial documents:

  • The Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, has two companies registered in the Bahamas. These were used to purchase real estate, including a house in Los Angeles, according to an ICIJ report. He also established five trust funds in Panama. Three of them hold life insurance policies that benefit Mr. Starr’s children, and one holds his proceeds and his bidding fees. Mr. Starr’s net worth is estimated to be around $503 million. Ringo Starr representatives declined to answer questions from ICIJ.
  • British singer Elton John It owns more than a dozen companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. These get their income from many business activities. In several cases, Mr. John has set up duplicate companies: one for income from the United Kingdom and one for income from elsewhere. All businesses that receive income from the UK are registered in the name of David Furnish, Elton John’s husband.

    In this country, celebrities can report revenue from tours, royalties, or record sales as business income. This allows them to benefit from a lower tax rate than the tax rate of wage earners. Elton John’s personal fortune is estimated at over $667 million. His representatives assured the ICIJ that Mr. John’s companies pay UK corporate tax and that he has not used it to reduce or avoid his tax.

  • Forms for establishing three foreign companies on behalf of Colombian singer Shakira They appear in Pandora leaves. Its history dates back to 2019, when it was the subject of an investigation in Spain for tax evasion in connection with the use of such companies. In July, a judge decided her trial could continue, given there was enough evidence that she had failed to pay more than $20 million in taxes between 2012 and 2014. At the time, her representatives confirmed that she had paid the overdue amount as soon as she learned she owed money to the authorities. tax.

    Shakira’s representatives said VI, the media partner of the ICIJ, said that the forms relate to companies that were registered several years before the investigation aimed at them, before they were resident in Spain. They explained that these documents were used to transfer the companies to a law firm so that they could be dissolved. They ensure that these companies have no income and do not conduct business activities. The singer’s representatives explained to the media Country, who is also a partner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, said that Shakira has turned to foreign companies because his income comes from outside Spain and that the authorities of this country are aware of all his companies.

Shakira smiles and throws her arms in the air.

Models for the creation of three foreign companies in the name of Colombian singer Shakira appear in Pandora’s Papers.

Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake

  • Spanish singer Julio Iglesias He is the owner of more than 20 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Eight of these have acquired real estate in the Miami area since 2008. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism has been able to identify two other companies associated with the singer not mentioned in the Pandora Papers who also own homes in the area. Other companies owned by Mr. Iglesias owned five plots of land on Indian Creek Island, Florida, an exclusive community that he called a “billionaires’ haven.” Two lots were sold in 2020.

    According to the ICIJ, some singer companies qualify for tax breaks on property taxes for the property they own. Mr. Iglesias’ personal fortune is estimated at $1.2 billion. He did not respond to multiple interview requests from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Singer Julio Iglesias.

Julio Iglesias is the owner of more than 20 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Photo: Getty Images / Miquel Benitez

  • German model and actress Claudia Schiffer She is the owner of six companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, where she has also set up a trust for the benefit of family members. The ’90s fashion icon told ICIJ partner Southgerman newspaper She complied with the tax laws in force in the United Kingdom, where she lives with her husband.
  • Argentine soccer player Angel Di Maria He was sentenced to a year in prison in 2017 for tax evasion, after Spanish tax authorities accused him of embezzling 1.3 million euros with the help of a Panamanian shell company. The Paris Saint-Germain star, who was playing for Manchester United at the time, managed to avoid serving his sentence by paying a fine of more than two million euros. This company has been used to receive payments related to image rights, particularly in connection with sponsorship or advertising contracts.

    Bandura’s papers reveal that his Panama-based front company continued to raise money after Mr. Di Maria paid the fine, among other things signing an agreement with Adidas. A spokesperson for Mr. Di Maria told ICIJ that the player set up his front company in Panama on the recommendation of a “tax professional”, adding that several other Spanish athletes playing abroad had been invited to set up extraterritorial companies to collect income related to image rights. . The contract value between Angel Di Maria and Paris Saint-Germain is worth more than $20 million annually.

Bernie Ecclestone.

Former Formula 1 financier Bernie Ecclestone bought a football club using a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Photo: Getty Images / Clive Mason

  • British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone UK Queens Park Rangers Soccer Club was bought in 2007 for $35.4 million using a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The purchase was made jointly by the former Formula 1 financier with former Renault Formula 1 team owner Flavio Briatore. The club was eventually sold to Air Asia founder Tony Fernandez through a Malaysian company.

    Pandora Papers documents show that by purchasing the Queens Park Rangers, Mr. Fernandes also repurchased the gentlemen’s loans. The team is joined by Ecclestone, Briatore and four offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and Delaware. The club was already in debt when MM. It was bought by Ecclestone and Briatore in 2007, and it incurred losses every year until it was sold.

    Tax experts explained to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that such losses can be deducted from the personal income of the masters. Ecclestone and Briatore, lower their tax bill. In an interview with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Ecclestone said he was involved in buying the club “as a favour” for Mr Briatore, believing his name was often used to lure other investors and managers. Mr. Briatore did not respond to ICIJ interview requests. The Tax Justice Network revealed in 2018 that about one in four English or Scottish football clubs came from outside the UK.

Avec les informations by Mia Zuckerkandel, Marcos García Rey, Kevin Hall, Antonio Delgado, Joaquín Castellón, Daniele Grasso, Mauritius Much, David Conn, Simon Goodley, Ivan Ruiz

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