Lee Sooman, the founder of SM Entertainment, was named in a major off-shore financial data leak called ‘Pandora’s Papers.’ The Entertainment head’s name was found in the document 399 times. If you are wondering what the Pandora Paper controversy is all about, here’s everything we know so far.

For the unversed, Pandora Papers is a coordinated leak of almost 12 million documents, where as many as 600 journalists in 117 countries collaborated to find hidden wealth, tax avoidance and cases of money laundering made by the world’s rich and powerful.

Two journalists from Korean news outlet Newstapa took part in this global investigation mission for International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)  and alleged finding ‘piles of evidence’ against Lee Sooman. SM Entertainment has denied the allegations and has threatened legal action against the publication.

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Lee Sooman’s Pandora Papers controversy explained

According to a Korean publication, Sooman was accused of purchasing properties in the US through a specific Hong Kong offshore company to bypass the limit on overseas real estate purchases.

The report also alleged that he is directly involved with suspicious Hong Kong offshore companies.

Sooman’s name was mentioned a whopping 399 times in the document that carried an overall 6.4 million documents concerning global leaders, almost three million images, more than a million emails and almost half a million spreadsheets, BBC reported.

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SM Entertainment’s response to Pandora Papers controversy

SM Entertainment has released a detailed statement on Lee Sooman’s Pandora Papers controversy.

The Entertainment giant noted, “Newstapa reported that the head producer Lee Soo Man has bought a real estate property in the U.S. through a paper company in Hong Kong to evade the lawful limit of purchasing real estate overseas and he is practically behind the suspicious paper companies in Hong Kong.

They added, “However, the aforementioned companies in Hong Kong were founded using funds in Korea owned by James Heejae Lee, a U.S. immigrant and a father of the producer Lee Soo Man, unlike the report alleged that the producer Lee Soo Man has secretly amassed wealth overseas.

SM Entertainment hand accused of illegal real estate purchasing, Ent head denies. SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Clarifying Sooman’s stance, the statement read, “Back then, James Heejae Lee wired his funds through a legal method and set up companies in Hong Kong, for which we have provided all the relative paper works to the Newstapa reporters.

It further explained, “And James HeeJae Lee’s remaining estate in Hong Kong was inherited by his wife Grace Kyonghyon Lee, and she has ultimately donated to JG Christian Charity Foundation per his last will. We have also provided documents and files pertaining to this to the Newstapa reporters.

“SM and producer Lee Soo Man did our best explaining the source of the funds and usage of those funds to the Newstapa reporters with valid supporting evidence.

“Nevertheless, we are deeply sorry that they had to report as if SM and producer Lee Soo Man were behind those companies for illegal purposes including tax evasions. 

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SM Entertainment revealed, “The companies mentioned in Newstapa’s report went through government assessments in 2014 by National Tax Service and Financial Supervisory Service, in 2015 by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of the Republic of Korea, and in 2020 by National Tax Service. And all assessments confirmed that companies were set up through legal methods.

The Entertainment group, home to some of the biggest K-pop acts pf history including Girls’ Generation, EXO, NCT, SHINee, Red Velvet and more, asserted, “SM and the producer Lee Soo Man have decided Newstapa and their reporters have significantly defamed us through their groundless accusations, which we have also decided to pursue all possible legal action.

We once again ask to refrain from spreading groundless rumors that could potentially harm reputation,” SM concluded.

SM Entertainment fans reaction

Lee Sooman has been on the receiving end of outrage quite a few times in recent times. With the latest Pandora Papers controversy, fans are taking to Twitter to share their take on it.

A user said, “Boy, why am I not surprised Lee Sooman is included in the Pandora Papers.” Another fan added, “I wish LSM could take legal action to protect the artists under SM but well..”

Lee Sooman resigned from his position as a member of SM’s board of directors in 2010. But, he still holds a position in the company’s ‘management and artist development’ division.

He was also named as one of the world’s influential music industry leaders by Billboard in 2020.