The Pandora Papers, a leak of nearly 12 million documents revealing hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, in some cases, money laundering, not only splashes world leaders, businessmen and politicians like President Sebastián Piñeram but also celebrities.
To the 300 figures of the public sector are added singers like the Spanish Julio Iglesias and Colombian Shakira, or football stars like the Argentine Angel di Maria or Spanish Pep Guardiola.
According to the research, all of them own companies offshore, companies based in countries other than the tax domicile of their administrators, which are legal if the owner declares them where he resides, but which are often used to “hide cash or avoid taxes,” according to the researchers.
The journalistic work, coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and with the participation of more than 650 reporters from different media -including the BBC-, exposes 12 million documents from 14 companies that work in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama or Switzerland, among others.
The ICIJ said this investigation is “opening a box [de pandora] about many things.”
These are some of the celebrities whose names appear in the research.
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According to the Pandora Papers, Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, 78, has 20 companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands: 16 with his wife, the Dutch Miranda Rijnsburger, and four others only in his name.
The investigation also notes that the artist used the money generated by five of those companies to buy luxury homes on Indian Creek, an island north of Miami, known as the “bunker of the rich” for being a resort of billionaires in the United States.
According to data from the official Miami-Dade County Registry released by the Pandora Papers, the current value of those homes is US$112 million.
In addition, according to the investigation, the singer used another of those societies. offshore to acquire a private plane and six others to buy properties valued at nearly $4 million.
All are controlled by a trust – an institution that allows you to control your assets abroad -, the Julio Iglesias de la Cueva Revocable Trust, created in 1995 in the British Virgin Islands.
The singer has not recently spoken about it, but in 2015 he told the Spanish journalist Jordi Évole: “I have never stopped paying a fucking tax anywhere in the world; where I sing, I pay my taxes.”
According to his representative, Juan Velasco, the musician has not had a tax domicile in Spain since 1978.
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Colombian singer Shakira, 44, owns three companies offshore registered in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Pandora Papers: Light Productions Limited, Light Tours Limited and Titania Management Inc.
The three companies were inaugurated in April 2019, managed by the Panamanian firm OMC, while the Ministry of Finance of Spain investigated their finances.
The singer of “Hips Don’t Lie”, based in Barcelona (Spain) for ten years, faces a tax fraud charge amounting to US$16.83 million.
“The fact of having companies abroad is based on a purely question. operational and commercial, and in no case to enjoy any advantage or tax advantage, “say their legal representatives.
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According to the Pandora Papers, musician Miguel Bosé is listed on the 2016 stock certificates of a society offshore created in Switzerland, Dartley Finance, through a private banking entity, the Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) of Geneva.
At that time, the singer resided in Panama, where he moved in 2014.
Dartley Finance was established in 2006 and is still active. For ten years, the company was controlled by bearer shares, but these types of documents were banned in Panama in 2015 for its practice in concealing assets.
The law firm that manages the case, Alemán Cordero Galindo and Lee (Alcogal), would have been forced from that year to assign the “real” shareholders to the documents linked to the company. The name of Miguel Bosé appears reflected only since 2016, explains the Spanish newspaper “El País”.
Bosé, 65, born in Panama and resident in Mexico since 2018, accumulates problems with the Tax Agency in Spain, which reviews the accounts of Costaguana SL, the company with which the singer manages his interests in Spain, for alleged tax breaks.
The company was founded in March 1984 under the name Miguel Bosé SA months before the singer released “Bandido”, one of his most successful albums. It then changed its name to Costaguana SL.
Neither Bosé’s lawyers nor representatives responded to questions from the Spanish media involved in the investigation into these issues.
Elton John and Ringo Starr
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The British pop icon Elton John, 74, one of the most important promoters in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has more than 12 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, according to the journalistic investigation.
Her husband, David Furnish, is the director of all of them.
Another well-known British musician, the former Beatles bassist Ringo Starr, of 81, also appears in the Pandora Papers.
Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) reportedly created two companies in the Bahamas that were used to acquire real estate, including a “private home” in Los Angeles.
It is also associated with at least five Panamanian trusts: three of them with life insurance for their children and another with income from royalties and live performances.
Representatives of British artists did not respond to ICIJ’s questions.
Ángel di María and Javier Mascherano
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Argentine footballers Ángel Di María, 33, and Javier Mascherano, 37 and now retired, also accessed tax havens, according to the documents of the Pandora Papers, reviewed by La Nación, Infobae and elDiarioAR, the partners in Argentina of the ICIJ.
Di Maria, who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain, created a company offshore in Panama in 2009, a company of an acronym without headquarters or employees linked to a bank account in Switzerland that manages millionaire income. It is what is known as a “screen society”.
Sunpex Corporation Inc. He channeled advertising revenue from brands such as Adidas and Coca-Cola and managed investments in financial assets. It has only one shareholder: Di Maria.
The footballer would have handled more than US $ 9 million through that company to exploit his image rights.
Di Maria acknowledged in 2017 that he had committed a tax crime before the Spanish Treasury for funds managed through Sunpex between 2011 and 2013, and paid a fine of more than US$2 million.
After that sentence and his departure from Real Madrid, the footballer continued to manage advertising contracts through society. offshore, according to the research.
“Society was always declared in England and France. It is a totally legal strategy“, his representatives told icij about the countries in which Di Maria has played since his departure from Spain.
The player’s environment explained that he used the Panamanian company for a “recommendation” made in 2009 by his accountant, and that the footballer “did not know that this recommendation was not reasonable for the Spanish authorities.”
On the other hand, the former Argentine footballer Javier Mascherano, former captain of the Argentina and Barcelona national team, resorted to companies offshore to invest abroad, the report notes.
The athlete had two partnerships in the British Virgin Islands between 2013 and 2016 with which he made real estate investments while living in Spain, according to the Pandora Papers.
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The Barcelona icon and current Manchester City manager is another of the football figures in the Pandora Papers.
The documents reveal that Guardiola he was an account holder with the entity Banca Privada de Andorra (BPA) until 2012. That year he took advantage of a tax amnesty approved by the government of Spain to regularize funds in Andorra, another tax haven.
“The tax amnesty was controversial because it allowed many fraudsters to launder money at a reduced cost,” explains Jesús Garcí.a Bueno, a journalist for El País specializing in judicial information.
In total, Guardiola regularized in 2012 more than half a million dollars. Until then, the 50-year-old had not declared any of the funds he had in Andorra’s account.
Lluis Orobitg, the coach’s representative, said Guardiola only used Andorra’s account to enter the salary he received from Qatari club Al Ahli, where he was between 2003 and 2005.
Guardiola is also listed in a document from the Alcogal law firm as a proxy for a Panamanian company, Repox Investments, created in 2007. Orobitg said repox has nothing to do with Guardiola’s economic interests in Panama and that the company had no activity.
The athlete has not made any recent statements but in 2015 he said in an interview the following: “I paid my taxes from the first day to the last, which many political parties cannot say.”
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The German supermodel Caudia Schiffer, 51, is another celebrity featured in the Pandora Papers.
Schiffer appears as a beneficiary of two companies offshore: 51 Red Balloons Holdings Limited and The Roxy Trust, established in the British Virgin Islands, and four other companies created in 2017.
The purpose of the companies, according to the journalistic investigation, would have been to manage the rights of their trademark.
According to German media Westdeutscher Rundfunk and Süddeutsche Zeitung, the model is listed in the documents with her married name, Claudia De Vere Drummond.
Schiffer’s legal representatives say he has his tax up to date in the UK, where he currently resides.
The Pandora Papers are a leak of nearly 12 million documents and files exposing the wealth and secret dealings of world leaders, politicians and billionaires. The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington DC and has led to one of the most important global investigations in history. More than 600 journalists from 117 countries have analyzed the hidden fortunes of some of the most powerful people on the planet. The research programme of the BBC Panorama and The Guardian led the investigation in the UK.