Bono Defends U2 Offshore Tax Arrangements

U2's Bono
U2's Bono
 Getty Images

LONDON -- Bono in a British newspaper interview has defended U2’s financial arrangements, saying the band's decision to keep a portion of its wealth offshore in the Dutch Antilles was in line with the Irish government's tax philosophy.

The Guardian asked the music star if it was hypocrisy for him to criticize the Irish government for its spending while U2 was avoiding taxes.

"It is not an intellectually rigorous position unless you understand that at the heart of the Irish economy has always been the philosophy of tax competitiveness," the paper quoted Bono as responding. "Tax competitiveness has taken our country out of poverty. People in the [tax department] accept that if you engage in that policy, then some people are going to go out, and some people are coming in. It has been a successful policy."

He also criticized some people on the political left, saying: "On the cranky left that is very annoying, I can see that. But tax competitiveness is why Ireland has stayed afloat. ... So U2 is in total harmony with our government's philosophy."

Asked if the tax arrangements have affected the band's reputation, Bono said: "I think for many reasons people have taken a dislike to our band and to me. This is another one. I have worked as an activist for all my adult life, and I think overall that no one can doubt we have been pretty effective. You can criticize me for a lot of things, but probably not for my commitment of time and energy."

Concluded the singer: "Some of the people who criticize us in Ireland and America have a history that you can trace back to our opposition to Noraid [a fundraising organization founded after the start of the conflict in Northern Ireland in 1969, which critics have called a fundraising ally of the IRA]. A lot of the others probably hate our music. And a lot of other people probably have a point."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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