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Friday 23 February 2018

'I'd welcome tax affairs audit', says Bono after leak of Paradise Papers

Bono
Bono

Bono has said he would be "extremely distressed" if an investigation into tax affairs in the wake of the leaked Paradise Papers discovered any "un-toward" activity with regards to a financial investment of his.

The probe by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that the U2 frontman used a company based in the tax haven of Malta to buy part of a shopping centre in Lithuania.

The investigation revealed that the singer was an investor in Maltese company Nude Estates Ltd, which bought the Ausra shopping centre in the Lithuanian town of Utena in 2007.

Breaking his silence after being named in the leaked documents on Monday, Bono released a statement saying that he was a "passive, minority investor in Lithuania".

He said he would be "distressed" if anything that was found to be "less than exemplary" was done with his name attached to it.

"I've been assured by those running the company that it is fully tax-compliant," he said.

"But if that is not the case, I want to know as much as the tax office does, and so I also welcome the audit they have said they will undertake."

He also pointed out the previous work he has done campaigning for more transparency of the financial affairs of overseas companies.

"I take this stuff very seriously," he said.

"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."

Irish businessman Bryan Meehan, who runs the Nude Estates companies, said Lithuania and Germany seemed like "good prospects for real estate investment in 2005".

"As manager of Nude Estates, I approached friends and investors around the world, including Bono, to take a minority investment in the company," he said.

"Bono's involvement has been 100pc passive and he has not visited any of the locations, nor has he had any involvement in the decision-making."

Poverty

Bono was part of a consortium that bought the mall back in 2007 for around €5.8m, but the company, Nude Estates Malta, was voluntarily wound up in 2015.

The human rights activist rock star has previously met with world leaders to campaign on issues such as extreme poverty in Africa and is one of the highest-profile celebrity humanitarians.

He is a co-founder of One, a global campaign and advocacy organisation with more than seven million members.

Much of its work is focused on taking action to end extreme poverty in third-world countries.

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