A new round of leaked reports from The Guardian today entitled The Paradise Papers reveals the shocking detail of the offshore habits of the top 1% of wealthy individuals and collectives across the globe. One of the surprise additions on the list was U2 frontman Bono, real name Paul Hewson. The papers reveal his involvement in the purchase of a shopping mall in Lithuania called the Aušra via the low tax offshore of Malta.
The shopping centre is located 100 kilometres north of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius and sold to unknown foreign investors in 2007.
The Maltese company titled Nude Estates was used to buy the shopping centre in 2007. Bono’s spokeswoman told the paper that the rocker 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.”
This is not the first time U2 has come under scrutiny for its tax arrangements; in 2006 they were criticised for moving their tax operations from Ireland to Netherlands. Then in 2015 they were confronted about the issue after protesters unfurled posters at Glastonbury in 2011 saying, “U pay tax 2?” Bono defended their tax arrangement by making the statement, “It’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed…And we pay a fortune in tax. Just so people know, we pay a fortune in tax; and we’re happy to pay a fortune in tax, people should.”
In 2006 Bono and Bobby Shriver started (RED), a company who teamed up with some of the world’s most iconic brands to contribute up to 50% of profits to the fund to help fight AIDS. The irony here certainly not lost on us.
Following 2011’s U2 360° tour, which became the highest-grossing tour of all time, the group topped the highest-paid musicians’ list of the year, earning $195 million in 12 months.
The group’s management has told reporters they were not aware of Bono’s involvement in the property’s ownership.