Owners of two Boston sports franchises were named in the newly leaked files known as the “Paradise Papers,” which exposed how celebrities and politicians use offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, according to a report Thursday by The Guardian.
According to the report, documents reveal that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has owned an offshore company for more than two decades that could be used to legally avoid or reduce US taxes, the British publication said.
The report also said Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, who is also cochair of the Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital, is named in connection with a cruise ship venture with offshore holdings.
The two were among several owners of major professional football, basketball, and hockey franchises cited in the leak, the Guardian reported.
The Kraft business is an offshoot of the family’s International Forest Products wood and paper business. A spokesperson for Kraft told The Guardian that Kraft’s offshore company was created to do business with certain customers and dealt with relatively small sums of money.
“These entities are not organized or maintained for any reason other than to facilitate doing business in any particular location and decisions are not income tax motivated,” the spokesperson told the paper.
A Kraft spokesman told the Globe the Bermuda operation has been dormant since 2000 but declined to comment further.
A spokesman for Bain Capital declined to comment to The Guardian and the Globe. Bain, according to The Guardian, is a partner with businessman Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in Virgin Voyages.
A spokesman for the cruise business said: “As it relates to offshore registration, including Bermuda, given the international nature of the cruise ship industry and the voyages themselves, it is a universal and legal practice.”
The Paradise Papers consist of 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of offshore service providers and company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which has partnered with reporters and media outlets to explore the files.
The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Many of the files show paperwork from Appleby, a leading offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and beyond.Matt Rocheleau can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.