SALT LAKE CITY — Contrary to erroneous blog reports, the LDS Church does not own any of the companies listed in the Panama Papers leak of organizations that used offshore shell corporations to evade taxes.
Deseret Investment Inc. and Bonneville International Limited are neither owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor associated with it in any way.
The LDS Church does own for-profit companies with the words Deseret and Bonneville in their names. For example, it owns Deseret Management Corporation, which in turn owns Bonneville International Corporation. (DMC also owns the Deseret News.)
The church-owned Bonneville does business under a number of different names, including Bonneville Communications, but none of those names matches the one listed in the Panama Papers.
"Bonneville International Corporation does not have exclusive rights to the name of Bonneville and has no relationship or dealings with the entities of Bonneville International Limited or Deseret Investment Inc.," said Kent Nate, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Bonneville International Corporation. "In fact we were not aware of the existence of these two entities until after discussion began from the leak of the Panama Papers. Review of the Panama Papers database and the corporate registration of the two companies listed shows they are owned by trusts in the United Kingdom."
Bonneville International Limited is owned by BOS Trust Company, which is registered in Jersey, Great Britain. Deseret Investment Inc. also is owned by a company with ties to the United Kingdom.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists created a searchable online database listing more than 200,000 companies entities listed in the Panama Papers. The entrance to the website includes a strong caution:
"Many people and entities have the same or similar names. We suggest you confirm the identities of any individuals or entities located in the database based on addresses or other identifiable information."