Researchers at the International Consortium Of Journalists and the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung did a bit of poking around recently, and came up with a bit of a literal treasure trove: a cache of records regarding offshore (tax free) investments made by entities with swimming pools full of money, hidden away from prying eyes.
The documents, dubbed The Paradise Papers and detailing trillions of dollars worth of investments, came from the files of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, and were leaked to the researchers. As The Irish Times reports, along with The Queen, members of Donald Trump‘s cabinet, and many other fairly well known people, one Paul Hewson appears in the documents. Mr. Hewson is better known as Bono.
Appleby spokespeople have responded, saying that “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients. We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behaviour.”
Even though everything may be strictly legal, Bono — who has made a name for himself as an anti-poverty activist worldwide — is still getting dragged on social media, with commenters waving the hypocrisy flag: tax havens such as those noted in the Paradise Papers deprive governments of tax revenues, which could be spent to assist those most in need. Brooke Harrington, the author of Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers And The One Percent, appears in the Times’ article saying that offshore money stashes make “the poor poorer” and are “deepening wealth inequality”.
Bono has a number of investments via offshore outfits, including a shopping center in Utena Lithuania, a town of about 30,000, and an office building in Duisburg, near Dusseldorf in Germany. The details came to light due to his ownership of shares in a Malta company, Nude Estates Malta Ltd.
Bono has since released a statement, indicating 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 says that “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.”