Emma Watson named in Panama Papers leak
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – When one runs a search through a database from the so-called Panama Papers leak, Emma Watson's name crops up, and a spokesperson from her camp confirms that the actress has indeed set up an offshore company.
Famous for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter films, Watson, through her legal name, "Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson," was discovered by political and current affairs magazine The Spectator in the searchable Offshore Leaks Database. The search connects her to one address and entity connected to the United Kingdom.
The database is built only on some of 11 million-plus documents leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. For the first time, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) gave public access to data on over 200,000 secret offshore companies on Monday, May 9. (READ: Law firm warns against 'Panama Papers' being released online)
Her spokesperson says that she has indeed set up an offshore account but does not receive any "tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever." The actress only uses it to protect "her anonymity and safety."
"Emma (like many high profile individuals) set up an offshore company for the sole purpose of protecting her anonymity and safety," Watson's spokesman, Luke Windsor, said in a statement quoted by Steerpike from The Spectator and CNN Money.
"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 jeopardized 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"Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details.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.'"
Watson's offshore company, Falling Leaves Ltd (named by CNN Money), was set up in 2013 in the British Virgin Islands. Located in the Caribbean, the UK's overseas territory is considered by the European Commission as a tax haven.
While it does not automatically incriminate individuals, the Panama Papers have nonetheless triggered investigations for tax fraud, money laundering, and other crimes. (READ: Panama Papers: 'No evidence' to take action vs Mossack Fonseca – prosecutor)
The Offshore Leaks Database "allows users to explore the networks of companies and people that used – and sometimes abused – the secrecy of offshore locales with the help of Mossack Fonseca and other intermediaries," the ICIJ said. (READ: Irene Marcos, Angaras in Panama Papers database)
It also clarified that it was not making available raw records online, nor was it putting all the information from the records out, in part to prevent access to bank account details and personal data of those mentioned.
Some prominent names connected to the Philippines also emerged from database searches. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com