Bono on his Mal­tese com­pany: ‘Would peo­ple pre­fer if I die broke?’

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

U2 front man Bono (real name Paul David Hew­son) has hit back at crit­ics of his fi­nan­cial af­fairs, ask­ing: “I mean, come on – would peo­ple pre­fer I die broke?”

Bono, worth an es­ti­mated £534mil­lion, was quoted in the British press re­mark­ing on his Mal­tese com­pany de­ba­cle: “I’ve been writ­ing about my own hypocrisy for 20 years. But the hypocrisy of the hu­man heart is so much more in­ter­est­ing than a rock’n’roll band try­ing to take its fi­nan­cial af­fairs se­ri­ously.”

Bono had been named in the Par­adise Pa­pers in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a mi­nor­ity in­vestor in a Maltabased com­pany that had pur­chased a shop­ping cen­tre in Lithua­nia through a Maltabased hold­ing com­pany named Nude Es­tates 2.

Af­ter Bono’s link to the Lithua­nian firm emerged, a Lithua­nian tax ex­pert looked at its ac­counts and claimed that it may have bro­ken the law when it re-val­ued the Aušra shop­ping cen­tre, fol­low­ing the eco­nomic down­turn in 2010.

The reval­u­a­tion cre­ated a €3 mil­lion loss which the com­pany then off­set against its in­come, en­abling it to avoid the 15 per cent tax payable on prof­its.

But in the wake of the Par­adise Pa­pers in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Lithua­nian tax of­fice stepped in over con­cerns that this use of losses broke Lithua­nian laws and fined the Lithua­nian com­pany €53,000 in back taxes.

At the time of the rev­e­la­tion, Bono had said he would be “ex­tremely dis­tressed if even as a pas­sive mi­nor­ity in­vestor ... any­thing less than ex­em­plary was done with my name any­where near it”.

Fol­low­ing news of the set­tle­ment, he said: “I fully sup­port the tax au­thor­ity’s in­spec­tion, and am thank­ful it’s now com­plete. It is my un­der­stand­ing that Nude Es­tates has now vol­un­tar­ily made a pay­ment to cover a tech­ni­cal er­ror in a 2012 fil­ing.

“Al­though no wrong-do­ing by the com­pany has been sug­gested by the rev­enue, I am not happy that it took the in­spec­tion to re­veal this er­ror so I have in­structed my ad­vis­ers to end my in­vest­ment in the com­pany that I had no hand in run­ning.”

This week he said that peo­ple were ac­cus­ing U2 of not be­ing “ide­al­ists” de­spite their “cam­paigns of so­cial jus­tice. It won’t wash. A lot of peo­ple might just not like us and try to find rea­sons to ex­plain it.”

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