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