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Posted on 12th May 2016 at 4:10pm by Carl Reader in Uncategorized

Originally posted at

Emma Watson has joined the list of celebrities who use tax havens.

She’s the beneficiary of a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, according to the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks Database.

More than 300 economists, including Thomas Piketty, wrote a letter to governments this week claiming tax havens have “no useful purpose”.

But Watson, whose name was discovered in the Panama Papers last night, claims that she was focused on the “haven” aspect, rather than the “tax” aspect of the deal with her offshore company Falling Leaves Ltd.
What her people say:

“Emma (like many high profile individuals) set up an offshore company for the sole purpose of protecting her anonymity and safety”

“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.

“Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details. Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever – only privacy.”

The “many high profile individuals” referred to tend to be rich as well as famous, however.  To get a clearer picture we called business author Carl Reader.

Is Emma Watson spinning the story?

Carl Reader: Although it is difficult to comment on specific cases without knowing the full facts, my view is that it’s unlikely to be the whole truth. Offshore companies certainly allow anonymity, but there are ways and means to do it in the UK.

So there’s more to it?

Reader: I don’t know when Emma Watson’s offshore company was set up. There’s been a change in legislation on reporting, but until recently it was possible to set up a nominee account.

That’s a situation where your account is held in someone else’s name?

Reader: Yes, crowdfunding companies are a good example of this. Crowdfunding companies are nominee shareholders, the individuals below who provide the money are not on public record.

Is it common for people to set up offshore companies for this reason?

Reader: Like most people, I’m suspicious of offshore companies. It will give you anonymity, but it’s implied that there’s more to it than that. There are potentially tax benefits as well. You can have anonymity in the UK.

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