Panama Papers: More sports stars linked to tax haven scandal

Chelsea's Willian. Photo / AP
Chelsea's Willian. Photo / AP

English Premier League football stars Andy Cole and Willian have been named along with golfer Sir Nick Faldo as the latest celebrities to be linked to the Panama tax haven scandal.

The Guardian newspaper outed the trio among a list of celebrities, including the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, pop entrepreneur Simon Cowell, actor Jackie Chan and Heather Mills, the ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney.

The paper claimed Willian, one of Chelsea's leading players, was the sole shareholder in a BVI company called Saxon Sponsoring Limited, which was set up in September 2013. His address in the UK was given as Chelsea's training ground in Cobham, Surrey.

A spokesman for the midfielder - whose full name is Willian Borges da Silva - said the company had lain dormant before being closed down last year.

Willian signed for Chelsea in August 2013, making his debut in September.

A spokesman for the player told the Guardian "Saxon was incorporated before Willian's employment by Chelsea FC and was dormant following his arrival in the UK".

He added that "Saxon was subsequently liquidated and dissolved and that following Willian's arrival in the UK, Saxon was never active nor did it receive any payments".

The paper claimed Faldo was the sole shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company called Blenhim Road Ltd, which was set up in 1995, two years after the six-time majors winner turned professional.

The company was shut down in 2009, at about the time his playing career was starting to wind down. Faldo declined to comment to the Guardian.

Cole, now retired but being linked to a fresh deal with Sunderland, appears to have used a company called Crewzen Finance Limited to own a semi-detached house in Nottingham. Cole bought the property in his home town in 2009 for £84,000. The former Manchester United striker declined to comment to the newspaper.

The Panama Papers reveal the names of many wealthy and well-known individuals who have had offshore dealings through companies provided by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the leak. That does not mean they have done anything wrong.

But in the current political climate, the Guardian said it raises legitimate questions about why they have done so, what benefit they were hoping for, and whether they will continue to use such vehicles in light of our disclosures.

- NZ Herald

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