Shakira transferred her musical rights to Malta, valued at €31.6 million

The attorney of the latin singer upholds the transparency of the operations and justifies the singer’s registered office in the Bahamas

Foto: Shakira y Piqué en una imagen de archivo. (Gtres)
Shakira y Piqué en una imagen de archivo. (Gtres)

Shakira’s name surfaces in connection to the Maltese company Tournesol Limited. This company has been run by the Colombian singer, as a Bahamas tax resident, from the 'offshore' Mediterranean island of Malta since 2007. This 'offshore' connection is part of the global investigation known as the Paradise Papers, based on the analysis of 13.4 million documents from two offshore service providers in Bermuda and Singapore and 19 Trade Registries from opaque justice systems. The leak was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, who shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to lead the work published in 96 outlets worldwide, including El Confidencial and La Sexta exclusively for Spain.

While admitting that Shakira lives in Barcelona, her lawyer Mr. Ezequiel Camerini justifies her residence in a tax haven explaining that "as an international artist she has resided at different locations throughout her professional career and, in every case, has fully met the laws of all the jurisdictions where she has resided."

Documento del registro mercantil de Malta donde figura Shakira como propietaria de Tournesol Ltd.
Documento del registro mercantil de Malta donde figura Shakira como propietaria de Tournesol Ltd.

31.6 million in Malta and Luxemburg

The fact is that Shakira moved all her rights between two companies she owns based in Luxemburg and Malta. The Maltese company Tournesol Limited received the rights to “musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks” in July of 2009. The company increased its capital in one euro (thus the capital is worth 3,020,001€) but with a resulting share premium of €31,637,050, "corresponding to the worth of her musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks.” Malta and Luxemburg are countries where thousands of companies are registered but do not operate, which is indicative of opaque tax systems that favour tax avoidance and tax evasion.

The intellectual property had been valued at €31,637,050 by the American company Gelfand, Rennert and Feldman L.L.P. Tournesol Limited in turn owns a company based in Luxemburg named ACE Entertainment S.àr.l., which is the entity managing the singer’s musical assets and intellectual property. Taxation is very low in Luxemburg. Shakira’s name appears in trade registries at least until 2016 and is listed as the “sole shareholder” of the Maltese company. The start of the company coincides with a good professional moment in the singer’s career.

The entity was founded in December of 2007, during the ' Oral Fixation' tour after her fifth album entitled 'Oral Fixation Vol. 2' (2005). In 2009, three months after transferring to Malta her “musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks”, Shakira published her sixth studio album, 'She wolf'.

The components of the interest-free agreement

The 31 million come from an ‘interest-free loan agreement’ between ACE entertainment and Tournesol Limited. This increase in capital was carried out through a share premium, which is a way of increasing a company’s worth by compensating the worth of the previous shares with others worth more. In this case, a 1 euro value share was added, but this share had an associated share value equivalent to those €31 million. The document explaining the operation was published by the Maltese consultancy Busutlil & Micollef.

Previously in 2008, the company’s capital increased from €20,000 to €3,000,000 thanks to an unpaid receivable that the singer had with another of her companies, in this case a Dutch entity, Geneurope Holding B.V., which possessed at that time her trademark rights, according to the documentation this newspaper has had access to. The taxation policies of the Netherlands make it easy for the Dutch tax authority to establish low taxation schemes through secret agreements with multinationals and other companies.

An 'offshore' relationship with Antonio de la Rúa

Shakira’s Maltese company name had already been published by the British press in 2013 and was also mentioned is the suit filed by her former partner the Argentinian entrepreneur Antonio de la Rúa, where he required the singer to pay him 100 million dollars for the profit of their joint businesses. The Tournesol documents mention Shakira as the sole shareholder although De la Rúa is listed as director from 2008 to 2011, the year the couple broke off their relationship, both personal and professional. After De la Rúa left his post as director the role was assumed by Mr. Ezequiel A. Camerini, the aforementioned attorney to Shakira. The same is true for ACE Entertainment S.à.r.l, according to the Luxemburg registry documentation.

Shakira y De la Rúa en 2010. (EFE)
Shakira y De la Rúa en 2010. (EFE)

On the other hand, another of the company’s directors requested, on repeated occasions, an extension of the stipulated time frame to submit accounts, given that “over 90% of the company’s interests were outside of Malta.” That was the case from 2009 to 2014, both inclusive. Later, on 8 July 2014, Tournesol again reduced its capital, annulling the loan of €31 million that its subsidiary had granted it. In the meantime, the head office was changed twice, in both cases to different addresses within Malta.

It is worth mentioning that Antonio de la Rúa’s name was also attached to the Bahamas Leaks, along with his brother and other Argentinian partners, although he said that he had lived in the Bahamas where he had done some business. This information was published in La Nación.

It is remarkable how the attorney to Shakira stresses the singer’s exceptional geographic mobility and underscores the Colombian’s home in the Bahamas where she lived with her former partner Antonio de la Rúa. "Our client has been a resident of the Bahamas since 2004 and owns a house in said country from that date. In subsequent years Shakira’s work commitments have compelled her to travel almost constantly and to spend most of her time in different countries. Take for instance 'The Sun Comes Out World Tour', with 110 concerts worldwide, of which 62 were in 2011." Her attorney adds, "subsequently, Shakira spent long periods of time in the United States, where she worked for the Television show The Voice."

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Paradise Papers
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