Australia’s Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are among the rich and famous who have had their tax secrets exposed in a major leak of financial documents.
Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leak is thought to be one of the biggest in history with more than 13.4 million files revealing the offshore interests and tax affairs of more than 120 politicians, world leaders including the Queen and celebrities.
Many notable Australian figures appeared in the leak, including Kidman and Urban, as well as Macquarie chief Nicholas Moore and Wesfarmers (Coles) CEO Richard Goyder.
The secret documents showed Kidman and Urban set up a Tennessee limited liability partnership, Island 67 LLC, in November 2014.
It was registered in March 2015 as a foreign company in the Bahamas.
Some documents detail legal attempts by Michael Hutchence‘s business manager Colin Diamond to set up a company in Mauritius in 2015 to use “sound recordings, images, films, and related material embodying the performance of Michael Hutchence” ahead of the 20th anniversary of INXS singer’s death this month.
The ATO to investigate
The Australian Taxation Office has warned of probes into the Paradise Papers, and has already begun analysing the trove of leaked documents.
“We know and trust that most people do the right thing, and that many taxpayers identified as part of the leak will be meeting their Australian tax obligations,” the ATO’s deputy commissioner international Mark Konza said in a statement on Monday.
“However, we investigate all leads and have the resources and expertise to take action against taxpayers or intermediaries found to be caught-up in the illegal use of offshore structures or providers.”
ATO officials have spent months working with partner agencies in Australia and overseas ahead of the release of the Paradise Papers in an attempt to identify possible tax avoidance.
“We anticipate further data may be published by the ICIJ and the ATO will continue to work closely with other tax administrations to share intelligence on advisers operating globally,” Mr Konza said.
Among the Paradise Papers are documents showing how mining giant Glencore’s Australian division moved billions of dollars through Bermuda using cross-currency interest rate swaps to try and minimise its tax liabilities.
Glencore has said it used the swaps to hedge foreign currency exchange risks, but stopped doing this in 2016 after a ruling by the ATO.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the investigation demonstrates the need to crack down on multinational tax avoidance.
“It underlines and underscores why it is important to crack down on multinational tax avoidance,” Senator Canavan told ABC radio on Monday.
“It is absolutely the case that companies operating here, making profits here, must pay tax here.”
The New Daily has contacted Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman’s PR representatives for comment.
– with AAP