The perks of being an offshore CEO? Emma Watson named in Panama Papers update

The actress and activist's spokesman said her British Virgin Islands company was merely to protect her privacy

Emma Watson, Panama Papers, ICIJ, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Mossack Fonseca

English actress Emma Watson poses for photographers during the photocall of the film: 'Regression' in Madrid, Spain [AP Photo/Abraham Caro Marin]

Actress and feminism activist Emma Watson has been revealed to have been named in the Panama Papers leak, having using an offshore company to acquire property valued in the millions. The 26-year-old star, who rose to fame playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise but who is now a prolific women’s rights campaigner, purchased a new home in London after setting up a company called Falling Leaves in the British Virgin Islands.

A spokesman for the activist denied that the company had been created in order to avoid paying taxes, stating that Falling Leaves offered the global star an opportunity to protect “her anonymity and safety.”

“Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever, only privacy,” Watson’s spokesman said.

“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 jeopardised in the past owing to such information being publicly available.

“Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details.”

Watson’s link to Falling Leaves was revealed after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the leaked data from the now infamous Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca online for the first time.

Other celebrities whose names have been listed in the 11.5m files that span 40 years include Simon Cowell, Jackie Chan, Sarah Ferguson, and Paul Burrell, the former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Politicians were amongst the very first names by the Consortium when the Panama Papers story first emerged, with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Icelandic Prime Minister David Gunnlaugsson all implicated in the offshore scandal.

Watson, who is reportedly worth an estimated £35m (€44m), is set to star in two films in 2016, including The Circle with Tom Hanks and a new live-action version of Disney’s Beauty & the Beast co-starring Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson.

But the actress has also pledged to spend the year working to develop her HeForShe initiative, a UN gender equality programme she has created. Yesterday, along with Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Watson was a signatory on an open letter calling for the new London mayor Sadiq Khan to commission and erect a statue of a British suffragette in the city’s Parliament Square.

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