On Tuesday, a closer look into the Panama Papers exposed another celebrity: Emma Watson. According to The Spectator, which used an online database to search through the files, the Harry Potter actress and feminist activist set up an offshore company with the help of mammoth law firm Mossack Fonseca. (Watson's representatives said in a statement that she used the company only for privacy reasons, not financial ones.) The documents were leaked slightly over a month ago, and new facts continue to trickle out from the over 11.5 million files.
Though ownership of offshore companies isn't necessarily illegal, it tends to raise red flags in regard to the possibility of tax evasion and money laundering. However, there is at this time no evidence whatsoever that Watson has been ever been involved in either. Swiftly addressing the leak, Watson admitted that she does indeed own an offshore firm. A representative sent a written statement
to The Spectator insisting that Watson had no intention of hiding money offshore:
Emma (like many high profile individuals) set up an offshore company for the sole purpose of protecting her anonymity and safety. 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Offshore companies do not publish these shareholder details. Emma receives absolutely no tax or monetary advantages from this offshore company whatsoever – only privacy.
It's possible that Watson will face further questioning due to her status as the United Nations' Women Goodwill Ambassador, a position to which she was appointed in July 2014. Upon graduating Brown University, the actress went on to pioneer an initiative called HeForShe, which advocates gender equality. Since then, Watson has also become involved in making education more accessible for girls in third-world countries. When presented with the opportunity to become involved with the UN, Watson reiterated her commitment to advocacy:
The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role.
You can expect more updates on Watson's involvement in the offshore company in the days to come.