Actress Emma Watson has been named in the so-called “Panama Papers” as having used a company based in a Caribbean tax haven to handle her money. Watson, 26, is a shareholder in one of approximately 200,000 offshore corporations whose information was published online Monday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Emma has been taking a break from acting to work as a United Nations goodwill ambassador and women’s rights campaigner.
The actress was named as a shareholder in the Panama Papers, but that does not prove any wrongdoing on her part, the New York Magazine reports. However, the ICIJ has published a number of stories detailing how world leaders, celebrities and businesses use such entities to hide money from tax authorities in their home countries.
Emma Watson used the company, Falling Leaves Ltd., in 2013 to purchase a home in the British capital worth approximately $4 million. A spokesman for Watson confirmed that the “Harry Potter” star had set up an offshore company, but even though it was found through the Panama Papers he insisted that she did so “for the sole purpose of protecting her anonymity and safety.”
“U.K. companies are required to publicly publish details of their shareholders and therefore do not give [Watson] the necessary anonymity required to protect her personal safety, which has been jeopardised in the past owing to such information being publicly available,” the spokesman said. “Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever.”
Watson is hardly the first celebrity to store her wealth overseas. Other celebrities implicated in the Panama Papers leaks include music mogul David Geffen, TV personality Simon Cowell, singer Fergie, athlete Lionel Messi, and filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, the BBC reported.
But the star’s penchant for activism nevertheless make her involvement in offshore holding schemes surprising. Then again, that hasn’t stopped Bono, the humanitarian, from storing some of his wealth in an overseas shell company.
The Panama Papers are a cache of more than 11 million confidential documents from a Panama law firm leaked to and published online last month by an international consortium of journalists who have been busy combing the database for details on how rich, famous and powerful people hide their wealth in offshore accounts and tax havens.
The Oklahoma News revealed that scandal and embarrassment soon followed for a dozen heads of state and scores of their relatives. At least one had to resign and others, including Watson’s fellow Brit, Prime Minister David Cameron, have been forced to explain why they have offshore accounts and whether or not any of their country’s financial and tax laws were broken.
Emma Watson, who grew up playing Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, has become an outspoken liberal and feminist activist, representing the United Nations as a goodwill ambassador and campaigning for women’s rights and girls’ education around the world.