LONDON (AP) – Leaked papers revealing investments in tax havens by the world’s wealthy suggest U2 frontman Bono used a company based in low-tax Malta to buy part of a shopping mall in Lithuania.
The Guardian newspaper said Monday that the “Paradise Papers” document trove, obtained by it and other news organizations, reveals that the singer was an investor in Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Ausra shopping center in 2007.
Bono’s spokeswoman told the paper that the rocker, whose real name is Paul Hewson, 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.”
The Irish band, well known for its poverty-fighting efforts, has faced past criticism over its tax arrangements.
U2 was heavily criticized in 2006 for moving its corporate base from Ireland to the Netherlands, where royalties on music incur virtually no tax.
In 2011, protesters inflated a giant balloon reading “U Pay Tax 2?” during U2’s set at the Glastonbury Festival.
The Ausra shopping center is located in the town of Utena, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. The 3,700 square-meter (40,000 square-foot) mall was built in 2006 and sold to unknown foreign investors in 2007.
Its management has told reporters they were not aware Bono’s involvement in the property’s ownership.
Tax officials in Lithuania said Monday they’ve started to investigate papers and documents belonging to UAB Nude Estates 2, a Lithuanian registered company owned by Nude Estates Malta Ltd. and listed as the mall’s owner.
Ruta Asadauskaite, spokeswoman for Lithuania’s state tax inspectorate, declined to provide further details.