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Owner of $97bn Pornhub is named in Pandora Papers and defends investment, saying taxes were paid

Porn hub co-owner David Tassillo registered four companies in known tax havens

The co-owner of Pornhub – one of the world’s largest porn sites with an annual revenue of $97billion – is among the ultra-rich who squirreled away money in known tax havens. 

David Tassillo was listed on two companies registered in Delaware, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands, The Toronto Star reported.

The Canadian newspaper was among news outlets throughout the globe to receive nearly 12 million documents leaked to the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The so-called Panama Papers revealed Tassillo was the sole owner of Appscrutiny LLC and Appiation Management LLC, which were both registered in Delaware.

He also registered Singleron Ltd. in Anguilla, and Teckkix in the British Virgin Islands in 2017. 

He reportedly used nominee shareholders and directors to create the companies, which allowed him to hide his identity. 

Tassillo told The Star in a statement that ‘every facet of the business, including tax obligations, were handled in accordance with the law.’

It’s not clear why the companies were registered in known tax havens, nor was it revealed why nominee shareholders and directors were used. 

A 138-page lawsuit filed in California state court in July alleges Pornhub profits off sex trafficking, child pornography and rape

A 138-page lawsuit filed in California state court in July alleges Pornhub profits off sex trafficking, child pornography and rape

Tassillo said the companies were created to work with a firm building technology that identifies ands scrubs the web of phony online accounts. 

‘To support the business, we established companies in Delaware, like many Fortune 500 companies, as well as Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands,’ the statement said.

He said the project, which wrapped up in 2018, earned $100,000 with proceeds going to an unnamed Delaware company.  

Tassillo claims all taxes were paid for four businesses he registered in three tax havens in 2017

Tassillo claims all taxes were paid for four businesses he registered in three tax havens in 2017

The latest scandal follows a lawsuit in June accusing Pornhub of profiting off of videos posted online without their consent which featured rape, revenge porn and child pornography.

The 179-page lawsuit against Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek was filed on behalf of 34 unnamed women in California state court.

Of the 34 women, 14 were underage when the nonconsensual videos were uploaded and another 14 were victims of convicted sex criminals. They live throughout the US and in the UK, Colombia, Thailand and Canada.  

Late last year, the site was called out by critics for hosting inappropriate content. 

‘Its site is infested with rape videos. It monetizes child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content, and footage of women being asphyxiated in plastic bags,’ wrote Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times column that first exposed Pornhub.

‘A search for ‘girls under18′ or ’14yo’ leads in each case to more than 100,000 videos. Most aren’t of children being assaulted, but too many are.’ 

Tassillo, a Canadian, is co-owner of Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek, which makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the lawsuit. Conversely, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year.

Pornhub's parent company Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year

Pornhub’s parent company Mindgeek makes an estimated $97billion a year, according to the California lawsuit. In comparison, Netflix makes about $11.7billion a year

Tassillo runs Pornhub alongside founder Feras Antoon.  

The two men have been called to testify before the Canadian parliament’s ethics committee on the New York Times allegations.

‘I would…like to ask them how they expect to remedy the harm caused to individuals who never provided their consent for images and videos to be shared,’ said Member of Parliament, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who introduced the motion.

 

Tassillo lives a lavish life in Montreal, Quebec. He lives in this house on a quiet cul-de-sac in Laval, just north of Montreal. The home backs onto the Prairies River.

Tassillo lives with his family in this opulent house in Laval, just north of Montreal, Quebec

Tassillo lives with his family in this opulent house in Laval, just north of Montreal, Quebec

Tassillo is among celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer and Shakira who’ve been tied to the unprecedented Pandora Papers leak – which has revealed how the super wealthy used offshore companies to accrue wealth and make transactions. 

They are joined by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar – as well as associates of Vladimir Putin and 35 world leaders – after they were all found to have companies set up in tax havens.

The papers claim Colombian pop star Shakira (pictured) set up offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands to conceal assets

The papers also claim Colombian pop star Shakira set up offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands to conceal assets. 

But lawyers of the 44-year-old said the singer declared the offshore companies, adding that they did not provide tax advantages. 

The Hips Don’t Lie hitmaker is already in a legal wrangle with the Spanish Government, which has accused her of failing to pay taxes in Spain in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Shakira has previously said that during those years she lived in the Bahamas and was not a resident of Spain, only visiting the country ‘sporadically’.

A Spanish judge ruled in July there was ‘sufficient evidence’ to try her for evading more than £12million in taxes. 

The pop singer is expected to insist she has done no wrong if she does not reach a last-minute deal with state prosecutors and has to take the stand.  

In response to their client being named in the report, representatives of German supermodel Ms Schiffer, 51, said the mother-of-three correctly pays her taxes in the UK, where she lives. 

Meanwhile Mr Tendulkar’s lawyers said his investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities. 

The cricket star is also reported to have dissolved an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands three months after the release of the Panama Papers in 2016.  

Shakira has previously insisted she is innocent of tax evasion after she was questioned by a Spanish judge.

She denied allegations of not paying tax when she lived in Spain between 2011 and 2014, during an hour and a half long hearing in Esplugues de Llobregat, near Barcelona.

Prosecutors claimed that the superstar failed to pay taxes in Spain despite being a resident in the country for four years before 2014.

While she is alleged to have moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with footballer Gerard Pique was made public, prosecutors claim she maintained her official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015 when she started paying taxes in Spain.

The case only covers the period from 2012 to 2014, as the time frame to prosecute alleged tax offences in 2011 has expired.

Her press team later had previously released a statement stating the Colombian Superstar was innocent and everything claimed by tax authorities had been paid.

In response to their client being named in the report, representatives of German supermodel Claudia Schiffer (pictured), 51, said the mother-of-three correctly pays her taxes in the UK, where she lives

‘There is currently no debt’, it said.

Her defence team had argued that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and did not live more than six months a year in Spain – and was therefore not a resident under tax law.

The Pandora Papers consist of 12 million documents from 14 financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland. 

They were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) before being studied by more than 650 reporters from BBC Panorama, the Guardian and more than 100 other news outlets.      

Italian mobster Raffaele Amato is also named in the leak, which shows how he used a shell company in the UK to buy land in Spain, where he fled to to set up his own crime gang. 

Mr Amato, who has been tied to at least a dozen killings, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. His lawyers declined to comment. 

While many of the transactions leaked in the papers – made by tens of thousands of different offshore firms – feature no legal wrongdoing, they expose how the UK Government has failed in its promise to bring in a register of offshore property owners.

There are concerns that some of the purchases could be the work of money laundering – while some of those named now face allegations of corruption and global tax avoidance.      

The papers also exposed how current and former world leaders used offshore companies to carry out transactions.  

They revealed that former British prime minister Mr Blair and his wife Cherie saved some $434,000 (£321,000) in stamp duty when they bought an office in London by purchasing the offshore company that owned it.

Sachin Tendulkar's (pictured) lawyers said his investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities

Sachin Tendulkar’s (pictured) lawyers said his investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities 

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the couple said they had bought the property in ‘a normal way through reputable agents’ and should not have been ‘dragged into a story about ‘hidden’ secrets of prime ministers etc’. 

The spokeswoman said: ‘The vendor was an offshore company. The Blairs had nothing whatsoever to do with the original company nor those behind it. 

‘The vendor sold the company not the property – again a decision the Blairs had nothing to with.

‘Since the purchase was of a company no buyer would have had to pay UK stamp duty on that transaction. 

‘However, because the Blairs then repatriated the company and brought it onshore, they are liable for capital gains and other taxes on the resale of the property which will significantly exceed any stamp duty.

‘For the record, the Blairs pay full tax on all their earnings. And have never used offshore schemes either to hide transactions or avoid tax.’

Meanwhile Russian President Mr Putin was linked to secret assets in Monaco, while an offshore company owned by his alleged lover purchased a $4.1million apartment below the principality’s casino. 

The luxury fourth-floor flat was purchased by Brockville Development Ltd, which was eventually traced back to Svetlana Krivonogikh, reported the Guardian.

The woman, who was 28 at the time, is said by Russian investigative outlet Proekt to be the mother of Putin’s child, after giving birth to Elizaveta, or Luiza, in March of the same year.

The King of Jordan was able to secretly add £70million worth of property to his portfolios in the UK and US – mainly in Malibu, California and in London and Ascot, the papers showed, and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – who is facing an election later this week – failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for $16.2million in the south of France.  

The Pandora Papers probe is much larger than the landmark Panama Papers investigation, which rocked the world in 2016, spawning police raids and new laws in dozens of countries and the fall of prime ministers in Iceland and Pakistan, reported the ICIJ.

This time around, the papers also shine a light on the lawyers and middlemen who are at the heart of the offshore industry, with the owners of more than 29,000 companies revealed from more than 200 countries and territories – mostly from Russia, the UK, Argentina and China.  


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