Several people in the music industry have reportedly been named in the Pandora Papers, an explosive leak of private financial documents linking thousands – from world leaders and business tycoons to artists – to offshore investments and tax evasion programs.
The Pandora Papers was released to the public over the weekend, collecting 11.9 million documents investigated by more than 600 journalists around the world from 150 media outlets, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Journalists of investigation (ICIJ).
News organizations that published their findings include The Washington Post, The Guardian and more. They did not accuse the named parties of breaking the laws (offshore companies can be created for legitimate purposes.)
The Swedish House Mafia would have created an offshore company, SHM Holdings Ltd, in the British Virgin Islands in 2009, according to the Swedish broadcaster. SVT. SHM Holdings Ltd has reportedly been operating in the tax haven since 2017.
The entity would own the rights to the band’s music, including the hits Don’t worry child and Save the world. At the time of going to press, Swedish House Mafia has 8.4 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Talk to Billboard, Lena Bergkvist, coordinator of the Swedish Tax Agency, suggested that copyright in music being easy to transfer between countries made tax avoidance possible, and that countries with low royalty taxes were often considered attractive for intellectual property rights.
“[Musicians] could try to put the income in a place with little or no tax – and then deliver that money to a tax-free ultimate beneficial owner [applied]”said Bergkvist Billboard. “This is the reason why [an entity like] this.”
According to Hollywood journalist, the Pandora Papers also named the superstars Shakira, Elton John and Ringo Starr.
A lawyer for Shakira has reportedly told the ICIJ that the Colombian singer denies any wrongdoing, saying she has declared her companies in the Bahamas and claims they do not provide tax benefits.
Lee Soo-man, founder of SM Entertainment in South Korea, was also named in the Pandora Papers. South Korean News Agency Newstapa published claims that the music mogul was linked to a number of paper companies in Hong Kong set up to hide his wealth.
According to a report by Herald of Korea, Lee denied the allegations in a statement released by SM Entertainment.
“The Hong Kong companies, which the report implied to have been established and operated with Lee’s offshore hidden assets, were founded by the assets of James Heejae Lee in Korea, father of chief producer Lee Soo-man.” SM Entertainment said in a statement. [via Korea Herald].
SM Entertainment manages k-pop superstars such as SHINee, Super Junior, and EXO-K.