U2 Fans want Bono to Pay his Taxes

U2 was accused of donating only 1 percent of the monies collected through Bono’s ONE organization.

AP
June 24, 2011

U2 and its frontman Bono, known for their global poverty-fighting efforts, were accused of dodging taxes in Ireland by activists who crashed their performance at England’s Glastonbury festival.

The anti-capitalist group Art Uncut inflated a 6-metre balloon emblazoned with the message “U Pay Your Tax 2.” Security guards wrestled them to the ground before deflating the balloon and taking it away. About 30 people were involved in the angry clash.

Bono fan Gary Noble, 45, said he found the security response “all a bit shocking.”

“I love U2 but I think everyone should pay their taxes. The campaigners have a right to voice their opinion,” he said.

Art Uncut argues that while Bono campaigns against poverty in the developing world, his group has avoided paying Irish taxes at a time when his austerity-hit country desperately needs money.

Ireland, which has already accepted an international bailout, is suffering through deep spending cuts, tax hikes and rising unemployment as it tries to pull the debt-burdened economy back from brink of bankruptcy.”

Tax(es) nestling in the band’s bank account should be helping to keep open the hospitals, schools and libraries that are closing all over Ireland,” Art Uncut member Charlie Dewar said ahead of the protest.

U2, the country’s most successful band, was heavily criticised in 2006 for moving its corporate base from Ireland to the Netherlands, where royalties on music incur virtually no tax.

Bono, guitarist The Edge and U2’s other members – bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen – are among the country’s wealthiest residents. Forbes magazine has estimated the band earned $US195 million ($A185.68 million) last year, mostly through its hugely profitable 360 Degrees world tour.

It’s not known how much personal income tax the band members pay in Ireland.

During the years when Ireland was a booming “Celtic Tiger” economy, the members of U2 invested in a wide range of Dublin properties, including a luxury riverside hotel and a planned Norman Foster-designed skyscraper on the River Liffey. Plans for the “U2 Tower” were shelved when property prices collapsed in 2008.

U2 is headlining the first night of the three-day Glastonbury festival, its first appearance at Britain’s most prestigious summer music event. The band was due to perform last year but had to pull out after Bono injured his back.

Some 170,000 people have descended on a farm in southwest England for the extravaganza, which includes sets by Morrissey, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Beyonce and scores of other acts.

Rubber boots are the fashion item of choice after heavy rain turned the 364-hectare site into a mudbath. More rain is forecast.

Global Health Fund Drowns in Corruption

The Fund was created as an alternative to the United Nations, which long has been accused of allowing its bureaucracy of consuming too much money intended for humanitarian programs.

AP

A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned.

Global Health Fund

 

Much of the money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say. Donated prescription drugs wind up being sold on the black market.

The fund’s newly reinforced inspector general’s office, which uncovered the corruption, can’t give an overall accounting because it has examined only a tiny fraction of the $10 billion that the fund has spent since its creation in 2002. But the levels of corruption in the grants they have audited so far are astonishing.

A full 67 percent of money spent on an anti-AIDS program in Mauritania was misspent, the investigators told the fund’s board of directors. So did 36 percent of the money spent on a program in Mali to fight tuberculosis and malaria, and 30 percent of grants to Djibouti.

In Zambia, where $3.5 million in spending was undocumented and one accountant pilfered $104,130, the fund decided the nation’s health ministry simply couldn’t manage the grants and put the United Nations in charge of them. The fund is trying to recover $7 million in “unsupported and ineligible costs” from the ministry.

The fund is pulling or suspending grants from nations where corruption is found, and demanding recipients return millions of dollars of misspent money.

“The messenger is being shot to some extent,” fund spokesman Jon Liden said. “We would contend that we do not have any corruption problems that are significantly different in scale or nature to any other international financing institution.”

To date, the United States, the European Union and other major donors have pledged $21.7 to the fund, the dominant financier of efforts to fight the three diseases. The fund has been a darling of the power set that will hold the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain village of Davos this week.

It was on the sidelines of Davos that rock star Bono launched a new global brand, (Product) Red, which donates a large share of profits to the Global Fund. Other prominent backers include former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives $150 million a year.

The fund’s inspector general, John Parsons, said donors should be reassured that the fund is serious about uncovering corruption: “It should be viewed as a comparative advantage to anyone who’s thinking about putting funds in here.”

But some donors are outraged at what the investigators are turning up. Sweden, the fund’s 11th-biggest contributor, has suspended its $85 million annual donation until the fund’s problems are fixed. It held talks with fund officials in Stockholm last week.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Larsson said in a statement that his country is concerned about “extensive examples of irregularities and corruption that the fund has uncovered” in nations like Mali and Mauritania.

“For Sweden, the issues of greatest importance are risk management, combating corruption and ultimately ensuring that the funds managed by the Global Fund really do contribute to improved health,” he said.

The investigative arm of the U.S. Congress also has issued reports criticizing the fund’s ability to police itself and its over reliance on grant recipients to assess their own performance.

Fund officials blame the misspending on the lack of financial controls among the grants’ recipients, many of which are African health ministries whose budgets are heavily supported by the fund. Others are nations or international organizations without the resources to deal with pervasive corruption. The fund finances programs in 150 nations in all.

Among the corruption uncovered by Parsons’ task force:

—Last month, the fund announced it had halted grants to Mali worth $22.6 million, after the fund’s investigative unit found that $4 million was misappropriated. Half of Mali’s TB and malaria grant money went to supposed “training events,” and signatures were forged on receipts for per diem payments, lodging and travel expense claims. The fund says Mali has arrested 15 people suspected of committing fraud, and its health minister resigned without explanation two days before the audit was made public.

—Mauritania had “pervasive fraud,” investigators say, with $4.1 million — 67 percent of an anti-HIV grant — lost to faked documents and other fraud. Similarly, 67 percent of $3.5 million in TB and malaria grant money that investigators examined was eaten up by faked invoices and other requests for payment.

—Investigators reviewed more than four-fifths of Djibouti’s $20 million in grants, and found about 30 percent of what they examined was lost, unaccounted for or misused. About three-fifths of the almost $5.3 million in misappropriated money went to buy cars, motorcycles and other items without receipts. Almost $750,000 was transferred out of the account with no explanation.

—Investigators report that tens of thousands of dollars worth of free malaria drugs sent to Africa each year by international donors including the Global Fund are stolen and resold on commercial markets.

—The U.N. Development Program manages more than half of the fund’s spending, but U.N. officials won’t release internal audits of their programs to the fund’s investigators. Parsons said that has blocked him from investigating programs in the more than two dozen nations, including some of the most corruption-prone.

UNDP spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Sunday that the program’s policy bars it from sharing internal audit reports with the Global Fund, but that it is reassessing that policy.

“UNDP does, as a standing practice, inform the Global Fund about key audit findings and recommendations resulting from internal audits of Global Fund grants managed by UNDP,” he said.

The Global Fund was set up as a response to complaints about the cumbersome U.N. bureaucracy, and is strictly a financing mechanism to get money quickly to health programs. In just eight years it claims to have saved 6.5 million lives by providing AIDS treatment for 3 million people, TB treatment for 7.7 million people and handing out 160 million insecticide-treated malaria bed nets.

People should focus on those results, said Homi Kharas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and formerly the World Bank’s chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.

“Without a spotlight, without investigations, and without some sort of accountability, it’s impossible to root out corruption,” he said. “But just simply withdrawing donations, I do believe, would condemn millions of people who are not involved in the corruption to terrible fates.”

Where´s the cash Bono? ONE?

Bono´s ONE Foundation gave only 1.2 % to the poor in 2008, while paying 1,5 million pounds in salaries.  One of its greater contributors is the eugenicist Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Daily Mail

Good Samaritans? You´re kidding, right?

The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6million in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).

The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1million went towards paying salaries.

While the organisation’s game plan has never been direct handouts on the ground, many who admire the Irish rock legend may be surprised by the figures.

Bono was playing Brussels last night with U2 as the world’s leaders – so many of whom he speaks to directly – were meeting at the UN assembly in New York to assess the progress, or lack of, in reaching the Millennium goals they set.

The Post revealed it had received a number of gifts from ONE in the run-up to the event, such as leather notebooks, bags of coffee and water bottles.

In the UK, the organisation has laid on a series of high-profile, celebrity-supported events since it launched in 2002 to fight poverty in Africa and Aids worldwide.

In 2009, the group campaigned to have enshrined in British law a commitment to development assistance abroad.

ONE spokesman Oliver Buston has now defended the way the organisation is run, insisting the money is used for promoting its campaign and raising awareness rather than being given  straight to those who need help.

He said: ‘We don’t provide programmes on the ground. We’re an advocacy and campaigning organisation.’

Another spokesman in New York today dismissed the notion of lavish salaries being paid to its 120 members of staff and said the organisation was highly efficient in its raising of awareness.

ONE said it took no money from the public and that most of its funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.