Superstar pop icon Shakira will begin her sixth world tour next week, playing 36 venues all across America and Europe.
But as the Colombian star jets between countries to entertain her millions of fans, her music rights sit tight with a Maltese company registered at Kalkara's SmartCity.
Evidence that the pop icon transferred her music rights to a Maltese-registered company in 2009 emerges from the Paradise Papers leak.
Tournesol Limited received the rights to the Colombian singer's musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks, valuing them at €32 million, in July of that year, from another Shakira-owned company in Luxembourg.
The documents show how Malta Tournesol Limited increased its capital by €1 to reach €3,020,001 upon receiving the musician's rights, but with a resulting share premium of €31,637,050.
Tournesol in turn owns Luxembourg-registered firm ACE Entertainment S.àr.l., with the two firms transferring the €32 million as part of an 'interest-free loan agreement.
This increase in capital was carried out through a share premium, which is a way of increasing a company’s worth by compensating the value of the previous shares with others worth more. In this case, a €1 value share was added, but this share had an associated share value equivalent to the €31 million.
A report was filed in accordance with the law with the registrar of companies by Maltese auditing firm Busuttil & Micallef.
Before that, in 2008, the company’s capital was increased from €20,000 to €3 million thanks to an unpaid receivable that Shakira had with another of her companies, a Dutch firm called Geneurope Holding B.V. which at the time her trademark rights.
"The Maltese company Tournesol Limited fulfils all legal requirements to operate as such. All of the corresponding information relative to this entity is public and transparent," one of Shakira's lawyers said when asked about the singer's tax arrangements.
Shakira's Maltese connection had already been hinted at back in 2013, when her ex-boyfriend and former business partner Antonio de La Rua had filed court documents detailing financial arrangements as part of a court case against the singer.
The Paradise Papers are a leak of 13.4 million documents received by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detailing the schemes used by wealthy individuals and corporations to lessen their tax burden. The documents have been shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its collaborative network of 96 news outlets across the world.
The Paradise Papers said "the document explaining the operation was published" by the Maltese consultancy Busuttil & Micallef.
This might have given the impression that the firm has voluntarily published a document in breach of the Data Protection Act and Professional Secrecy Act, which preclude the company from even disclosing the names of our clients, let alone their personal data.
Busuttil & Micallef explained: "The whole matter revolves around an expert’s report which is required under Section 73 of the Companies Act, 1995 whenever there is an increase in share capital of a company which is subscribed to in kind (in this particular case the music rights transferred by the artist to her company). This is a report filed in accordance with the law (and not published) with the Registry of Companies together with other relevant documents pertaining to the share increase. In fact this report together with other relevant documents have been uploaded on the Registry of Companies’ website since 2009 and have been in the public domain since."
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