Bono has issued a statement after being named in the ‘Paradise Papers’ leak. It has been claimed that he used a company based in Malta to invest in a Lithuanian shopping centre, allegations he describes as “distressing”.
The U2 frontman allegedly used a company based in Malta, a famously low-tax jurisdiction, to pay for a £5.1 million share in the Ausra Shopping Centre in 2007. According to the newly-leaked documents, he was a direct investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which purchased the shopping centre before transferring ownership to Nude Estates 1, a company based in low-tax Guernsey. In Malta, firms pay tax at just five percent, while Guernsey imposes no tax on company profits.
Following the claims, Bono has now released a statement, saying he would be “extremely distressed if even as a passive minority investor… anything less than exemplary was done with my name anywhere near it.” He added: “I take this stuff very seriously. I have campaigned for the beneficial ownership of offshore companies to be made transparent. Indeed this is why my name is on documents rather than in a trust.”
A spokesperson for Bono previously categorically denied wrongdoing, telling 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.”
Despite being well known for his extensive charity work, Bono has previously faced backlash over his tax dealings, with critics claiming that he could have helped to eliminate poverty if U2’s tax base remained based in Ireland.
Instead, it previously transpired that U2 often put their money through the Netherlands, where tax rates have reportedly resulted in increased profits for the Irish rock icons.
Two years ago, Bono dismissed the criticism as “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 also saw protestors in the crowd holding a banner with the message ‘U Pay Tax 2’.