Harry Potter actor Emma Watson has been named in a database containing details of the Panama Papers leak.
Her name was found by The Spectator in a searchable database containing more details about the Panama Papers tax avoidance scandal, reported The Independent. Watson set up an offshore company named in the Panama Papers and used it to buy a £2.8million London home, it was claimed on Tuesday.
The Harry Potter star who earned £20million playing Hermione Granger in the series of blockbuster films, purchased the property through Falling Leaves Ltd, a company based in the British Virgin Islands. Through money invested in the company, 26-year-old Watson was able to buy a three-bedroom mews property in the capital in 2013, reported Daily Mail.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published data on more than 200,000 entities on its website Monday evening. The database contains information on companies, trusts and foundations and users can see networks involving the offshore companies.
Celebrities and elite unleash tech-themed outfits at Met Gala
Watson’s spokesperson confirmed she had set up an offshore company. However, the spokesperson said she does not receive any tax or monetary advantages whatsoever. Instead, the spokesperson said she uses it for privacy purposes. “Emma (like many high profile individuals) set up an offshore company for the sole purpose of protecting her anonymity and safety,” he said in a statement. “UK companies are required to publicly publish details of their shareholders and, therefore, do not give her the necessary anonymity required to protect her personal safety, which has been jeopardised in the past owing to such information being publicly available.”
He added, “Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details. Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever only privacy.”
Setting up an offshore company is not by itself illegal or evidence of illegal conduct. The Panama Papers were taken from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which maintains it observed rules requiring it to identify its clients. A number of past and present world leaders were named in the first leak as having offshore holdings. The database is the largest ever trove of data about offshore companies to be made publicly available. The database does not include anything that could compromise the privacy of individuals named such as records of bank accounts or email exchanges.
Other famous names in the leaked database include entertainment mogul Simon Cowell, who The Guardian reported as being the sole shareholder of two British Virgin Islands companies. However, a spokesman for Cowell revealed that the companies were set up by accountants acting for Cowell as a common way for an overseas investor to buy property in Barbados. “My client, however, preferred to purchase them transparently in his own name. Therefore, the companies were never used for anything at all. I can also confirm on behalf of my client that he has not used any offshore companies for any purpose whatsoever,” the spokesman said. Actor Jackie Chan was also listed as owning at least six offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands.
Courtesy : Express Tribune