"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."
That was the firm reply of Ezequiel Camerini, one of the attorneys for the singer Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, partner of Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué, when asked about Malta Tournesol Limited. The company is run by the Colombian singer, who appears as a Bahamas tax resident, from the offshore Mediterranean island of Malta since 2007.
While admitting that Shakira lives in Barcelona, the lawyer justified 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."
Shakira’s name surfaces in connection to the Maltese company Tournesol Limited, which in turn is a 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) which coordinated a team of reporters in 96 media outlets worldwide, including Univision News.
35 million in Malta and Luxemburg
The documents show that Shakira moves 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 is valued at 31,637,050 euros (about $35 million), "corresponding to the worth of her musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks.” Malta and Luxemburg are both offshore jurisdictions where thousands of companies are registered but do not physically operate, typical of the obscure tax systems that wealthy individuals and corporations use to dodge taxes.
The intellectual property had been valued at 31,637,050 euros 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. Shakira’s name appears in trade registries at least until 2016 and is listed as the “sole shareholder” of the Maltese company. The company's origin coincides with the professional takeoff of the singer’s career.
It was founded in December 2007, during the 'Oral Fixation' tour after her fifth album came out in 2005. In 2009, three months after transferring her musical assets, intellectual property and trademarks, Shakira published her sixth studio album, 'She Wolf.'
The 31 million euros stem from an ‘interest-free loan agreement’ between ACE entertainment and Tournesol Limited. Previously in 2008, the company’s capital increased from 20,000 euros to 3,000,000 euros thanks to the transfer of assets from another of her companies, in this case a Dutch entity, Geneurope Holding B.V., which possessed at that time her trademark rights, according to documentation obtained by ICIJ's media partners. 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 in a lawsuit filed by her former partner the Argentinian entrepreneur Antonio de la Rúa, which sought $100 million.
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 Camerini, Shakira's attorney. The same is true for ACE Entertainment S.à.r.l, according to the Luxemburg registry.
De la Rúa’s name was also attached to the earlier 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 at the time in La Nación.
Shakira's attorney stresses the singer’s exceptional global mobility and underscores that the Colombian has a home in the Bahamas where she lived with de la Rúa. "Our client has been a resident of the Bahamas since 2004 and owns a house in said country from that date," he said.
"In subsequent years Shakira’s work commitments have compelled her to travel almost constantly and to spend most of her time in different countries," he added.
As an example he cited 'The Sun Comes Out World Tour', with 110 concerts worldwide, of which 62 were in 2011.
"Subsequently, Shakira spent long periods of time in the United States, where she worked for the Television show The Voice," he added.
This story was reported by El Confidencial and La Sexta as part of the Paradise Papers project, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).