Cameron Says He Holds No Offshore Funds After Panama Leakby
Labour leader Corbyn demanded probe of family's tax affairs
Panama documents said to show `industrial-scale' evasion
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he has no offshore funds or trusts after documents leaked from a Panama law firm included details of an offshore investment fund of which his late father was a director, prompting opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to demand an inquiry.
Reports published Sunday based on 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian firm, Mossack Fonseca, suggested politicians and business figures had channeled billions through offshore accounts. Coverage dominated U.K. media on Tuesday, with “Cameron dragged into tax havens storm” the headline in the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail newspaper.
“I have no shares, no offshore trust, no offshore funds, nothing like that," Cameron said in response to a reporter’s question in Birmingham, central England, on Tuesday. “I have a salary as prime minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house which I used to live in, which we now let out while we’re living in Downing Street.”
Cameron dodged the wider question put to him about whether he or his family had derived any benefit from the Blairmore Holdings Inc. fund linked to his father, Ian, saying that “there are two things I’m responsible for -- my own financial affairs and the tax system of the United Kingdom.”
Cameron’s office later released a statement saying that “the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds.”
The Guardian newspaper reported Monday that the Blairmore fund had never paid U.K. tax on its profits. Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in televised comments earlier Tuesday that the prime minister should explain his family’s tax arrangements “in his own interest.”
“The investigation we need is for HMRC, our tax authority, to use all the information that is coming out of Panama to make sure that everything is done to make sure that companies and individuals are paying their taxes properly,” Cameron said. “No government, no prime minister has done more to make sure that we crack down on tax evasion, on aggressive tax avoidance, on aggressive tax planning both here in the U.K. and internationally.”
Cameron’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, had told reporters on Monday that the issue surrounding the premier’s father is “private.”
“It’s a private matter insofar as it’s a privately held interest, but it’s not a private matter if tax has not been paid,” Corbyn said. “So an investigation must take place, an independent investigation, unprejudiced, to decide whether or not tax is owed.”
Corbyn also urged Cameron to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance in British overseas territories.
“We’ve got revelations of tax avoidance on an industrial scale, of companies being set up in the British Virgin Islands and then moving themselves across to Panama, not paying any tax anywhere,” the Labour leader told BBC Television. “The more the revelations come out,” he said, “the more murky the whole thing becomes.”
Cameron said the U.K. will have ready by June “an open register of beneficial ownership so that everyone can see who owns what in Britain.” He also said the government has urged overseas territories and crown dependencies to take more steps to boost transparency.
“They have to have a single standard for reporting company taxation and they too need to do registers of beneficial ownership,” Cameron said.