Thursday 23 November 2017

Bono tells of 'distress' after Paradise Papers reveal Malta venture

Bono released a statement saying that he was a
Bono released a statement saying that he was a "passive, minority investor in Lithuania" Picture: Getty
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

U2 frontman Bono has said he would be "extremely distressed" if a business venture he was involved in was found to have fallen foul of any tax laws in Lithuania.

He was speaking after a probe into the leaked 'Paradise Papers' found that he used a company based in the tax haven of Malta in order to buy into a shopping centre in Lithuania.

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

After being named in the leaked documents, Bono released a statement saying that he was a "passive, minority investor in Lithuania".

He said he would be "distressed" if any financial activity that was found to be "less than exemplary" had his name attached to it.

The Dubliner described himself as a "passive, minority investor" in the company and said he welcomed financial probes of this kind.

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

The star also emphasised his previous work in campaigning for more transparency when it comes to the financial affairs of overseas companies.

"I take this stuff very seriously. I have campaigned for the beneficial ownership of offshore companies to be made transparent.

Read More: 'There will always be tax loopholes' - Varadkar

"Indeed, this is why my name is on documents, rather than in a trust," he said.

"The fact is I welcome this reporting. It shouldn't take leaks to understand what is 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 that 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."

The Dublin-born singer 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 well-known activist has previously met world leaders campaigning on issues such as extreme poverty in Africa and is one of the best-known celebrity humanitarians.

He is a co-founder of One, a global campaign and advocacy organisation with more than seven million members, which focuses on ending extreme poverty in third-world countries.

Irish Independent

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