Categories
Features

Pandora Papers: Which Jacks Were In The Box?

It’s hard to say the world was shaken by the Pandora Papers. Despite the breadth of this week’s leak, covering 11.9 million confidential documents, the Panama Papers in 2016 and Paradise in 2017 were potent enough to leave a bad taste in the mouths of all those whose assets don’t soar off into the 10 figure range. The leak finds its origins in files from a variety of law firms based in tax havens, mostly in Central America and the Caribbean (but also, surprisingly, in South Dakota), who facilitated the creation and operation of a large number of offshore companies. 

The Pandora Papers are in no way directly incriminating for those who feature in the files, as most ride a fine line between tax evasion and “fiscal optimization”, and squeeze their way into the latter when time comes for the gavel to strike. However, rather than sulk about all the tax dollars, pounds, and euros lost, the best we can do is milk the scandal of its entertainment value and see exactly who’s been hiding in plain sight. 

First off, it looks like Shakira’s 2001 album Laundry Service may have been about more than just pop rock. The beloved Colombian artist’s name has made its way out of the files revealing that she was tied to multiple offshore companies, although her representatives claim that these entities were fully transparent and operated lawfully. However, this all comes at a time when the she-wolf recently attracted the attention of a bigger dog: the Spanish ministry of the Treasury claims to have been defrauded of up to €14.5 million by the singer between 2012 and 2014. 

She wasn’t the only famous musician starring in the papers though, as she’s closely followed by one of the few Spanish-speaking artists able to best her: Julio Iglesias. The football hopeful turned singer is the most successful latin artist in the world, his massive album sales earning him a £600 million fortune. El Pais found that Iglesias owned 20 different companies in the British Virgin Islands, a favored tax haven, through which he purchased a private plane and several Miami homes amongst other things. 

The most prolific artists to feature in the papers are behemoths from across the Atlantic, namely Sir Elton John, and one of his rock forefathers, Ringo Starr. Both are tied to offshore companies, however it’s not clear what exactly they’ve used them for. In the case of Elton John, however, it is accompanied by ludicrous spending, as he admitted to disbursing a total of £30 million in under two years. When asked about the papers by multiple media outlets, neither of the artists’ representatives made any comment. 

Musicians are not the only celebrities to make a showing, in terms of shady tax dealings they’re tied with another major facet of the entertainment industry: sports. Football in particular has made quite the showing, and it’s no surprise as clubs trade tens, if not hundreds of millions to acquire the best. It’s no surprise either that the names found in the

papers come from the wealthiest clubs, starting with the Qatari-owned Paris Saint Germain. Unfortunately for Parisians, it seems that PSG winger Di Maria hasn’t been an angel, as millions of his euros appear to have been transiting through Panama into a Swiss bank account, according to Spanish newspaper La Sexta

The teams’ brass seem as culpable as players, as two top trainers have made the list: Pep Guardiola, current manager of Premier League club Manchester City seems to have made use of Panama located accounts during his career as a player, and Carlo Ancelotti, manager of the enormously famous Real Madrid, seemed to prefer the British Virgin Islands. The latter had already pleaded guilty to evading taxes in Spain earlier this year. 

The one who seems to have garnered the most star power, though, is none other than Edinburgh’s own Tony Blair, whose family has come under major scrutiny after his wife Cherie’s name seemed tied to scheming. The machination in question concerns the purchase of Marylebone offices, which was done by taking over the offshore company which owned the building. This saved the Blairs around £400,000 in taxes. The family, however, has staunchly rejected any wrongdoing, as representatives assert that they simply purchased the company and had no intention to avoid taxes, and pointed out that they will pay capital gains tax once the company is sold further down the line. 

If there’s one thing the leaks teach us, it’s that it’s always good to remember that even those who may inspire us are rarely as good as they’re sold to be.

Image via KYC360- RiskScreen