The huge leak of documents detailing the offshore tax avoidance of some of the world’s richest people and companies — ‘The Paradise Papers’ — has reportedly uncovered possible “misuse” of late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence‘s estate.
The leak has shown that offshore tax havens have been used to profit off of Hutchence’s career, and has called into question who exactly has benefitted from his body of work, including some of his unpublished songs. It has also called into question how much money his daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily has received.
As The Guardian reports, the leak shows that Hutchence’s business manager and former lawyer, Colin Diamond, lawfully set up a company called Helipad Plain in 2015 in the tax haven of Mauritius to exploit “sound recordings, images, films, and related material embodying the performance of Michael Hutchence” for the 20th anniversary of the singer’s death.
A leaked email from Diamond’s lawyer to the law firm Appleby also says that Diamond is the beneficial owner of Hutchence’s work. Hutchence’s daughter Tiger Lily reportedly isn’t mentioned at all in the documents, and it’s unclear how much money she has received from Hutchence’s estate.
According to the file, an Appleby staff member rated Diamond as a “high” risk client in 2015, because “although rationale has been received behind Colin Diamond being the BO [beneficial owner] of Michael Hutchence’s estate, there is still risk about the properties being misused given previous court cases involving [Diamond’s company] Chardonnay [Investments]”.
There have been multiple disputes over Hutchence’s estate since he was found dead in a Sydney hotel room in 1997, following an apparent suicide.
While much of INXS’ recordings and publishing rights are owned by major music labels, the ‘Paradise Papers’ appear to show that Chardonnay Investments still lays claim to some song rights and other material.
In an email to Appleby, Diamond’s lawyer, Michael Lim, wrote, “In the settlement with the estate of Michael Hutchence it was agreed that all intellectual property rights belonged to Chardonnay Investments Ltd which is controlled by Colin Diamond and by virtue of him being the ultimate beneficial owner, he controls the assets of Chardonnay.”
Lim reportedly explained the arrangement was made because Hutchence had “various family issues” and had left Diamond to deal with Chardonnay’s assets.
Some of the material owned by Chardonnay Investments was featured in the Seven Network’s documentary Michael Hutchence: The Last Rockstar last month, which included an interview with Diamond. INXS, meanwhile, said the documentary was “not an authorized publication”.
Channel 7 has told Four Corners that it did not pay for any of the material used in the documentary.
Meanwhile, a company founded by music entrepreneur Ron Creevey — a partner in Chardonnay Investments through the company Moment Media — has reportedly claimed to have made $1.25 million from a “media company” for documentary rights relating to Hutchence.
Four Corners says it has also learned from several sources that Tiger Lily has received “some money” from Diamond, but the amount has been “nothing like the full value of her father’s rights”.
Hutchence’s family battled with Diamond for years following his death, and a 2005 court case revealed that the singer’s assets were held in a maze of offshore trusts set up in tax havens by Diamond and other advisers.
Hutchence’s will supposedly called for half of the estate to be left to Tiger Lily, with the rest split between his immediate family and his late partner Paula Yates. There were also supposedly two bequests of $250,000 to Amnesty International and Greenpeace which were never received.