More celebrities have popped up in the Mossack Fonseca leak, including Cowell, Sarah Ferguson Jackie Chan, and Heather Mills.
The names come after 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based law firm were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other news organizations. The data breach named 12 world leaders and 140 other politicians in connection to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. The names included Vladimir Putin, Argentine president Mauricio Macri, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and the Prime Minister of Iceland.
Documents included emails, share certificates, and passports.
Although there is nothing illegal about moving money offshore, the secrecy of creating shell companies through firms like Mossack Fonseca has been seen as a problem because of lack of transparency. Offshore companies may also be used to evade taxes.
Music and television magnate Simon Cowell is the latest celebrity to be included in the data leak. According to The Guardian, he is the sole shareholder of two companies, called Southstreet Limited, set up in February 2007, and Eaststreet Limited, set up in October 2007, both in the British Virgin Islands. The offshore companies were established at a time when Cowell was planning to purchase two plots of land in Barbados.
Both of his companies were never used and are now both inactive.
“The companies were set up, not by my client, but by accountants acting for him as a common means for an overseas investor to purchase property in Barbados,” said Cowell’s spokesman.
“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,” said the spokesman according to The Guardian.
The actor has owned at least six offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, reported The Guardian. Companies Jumbo Jaz Investment, Jackie Chan Ltd and Dragon Stream Ltd. were among them.
The Academy-Award-winning film director, known for his movies “All About My Mother” and “Talk to Her,” was linked to a company called Glen Valley Corporation, which ran from 1991 to 1994. He was given power of attorney over the company, which allowed him to control it, said The Guardian, while two employees from the Panamanian law firm acted as the company’s directors. His brother, Agustin Almodovar, was also named in the Panama Papers.
Agustín Almodóvar apologized for the “damage my brother’s public image is suffering, caused only by my lack of experience in the first few years of our family business.”
“In any case, before the possible insinuations that might come about from the information you have, we wish to state that both Pedro and I are up-to-date with all of our tax obligations,” he added.
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is also named in the Panama Papers. Letters between Mossack Fonseca and her appointed law firm, Clintons, showed confusion in regards to her assets. There are conversations about a company called Essar Company Inc., set up in the British Virgin Isles in May 2000.
A spokesman for the duchess said, “Essar Company Inc was formed by the partners who were to develop the business opportunities with the duchess. Had any of the intellectual property generated income or gains or other profits, it would have been disclosed by the duchess as part of her normal tax filings.”
The spokesman told The Guardian that Ferguson always disclosed all sources of income in her tax returns.
Other celebrities named in the Panama Papers included Paul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills, Serbian fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, Margaret Thatcher’s son, Mark Thatcher, Chelsea soccer player Willian, and the late Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell.