Bono says he's 'extremely distressed' by Paradise Papers leaks about his financial affairs

The U2 frontman joins the likes of tech giant Apple in having their tax affairs exposed in the documents.

By AFP

U2 FRONTMAN BONO has said he is “distressed” by leaked documents showing he invested in a shopping centre scheme which may have broken tax rules.

However the singer welcomed reporting on the issue, which involved his stake in a Maltese company that bought the mall via a Lithuanian holding company in 2007.

The enterprise, in the city of Utena, is now under investigation for possible tax avoidance, after it allegedly skirted paying £41,500 (€47,000) in local taxes using an unlawful accounting technique.

Bono said he was “extremely distressed if even as a passive minority investor … anything less than exemplary was done with my name anywhere near it,” he said in a statement to the BBC and the Guardian.

The singer said he had been “assured by those running the company that it is fully tax compliant”.

In his statement, Bono said: ”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.

“The fact is I welcome this reporting. It shouldn’t take leaks to understand what’s going on where. There should be public registries so that the press and public can see what governments, like Guernsey, already know.”

Apple’s Paradise Papers

The revelations stem from a trove of documents leaked from a Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby, and reported by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The leak has been nicknamed the Paradise Papers, and it has also shed light on Apple’s tax-avoidance strategy involving its profit-shifting from one fiscal haven to another.

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According to documents cited by the New York Times and BBC, the offshore legal services firm Appleby helped the iPhone maker shift tens of billions of dollars from Ireland to the Channel Islands when it appeared to face a tougher stand on taxes here.

The report said Apple transferred funds to the small island of Jersey, which typically does not tax corporate income and is largely exempt from EU tax regulations.

However Apple said in a response that the reports contained various “inaccuracies”. For instance, the company said its 2015 corporate reorganisation was “specially designed to preserve its tax payments to the United States, not to reduce its taxes anywhere else”.

At a 2013 congressional hearing, Apple chief Tim Cook denied the use of “gimmicks” to avoid taxes. The company is facing an EU demand for about €13 billion in taxes based on a ruling that its tax structure in Ireland amounted to illegal state aid.

With reporting by AP and Rónán Duffy.