Panama Papers: Cameron insists no benefit from father’s accounts

Ian Cameron ran Bahamian investment fund for 30 years that avoided paying British tax

David Cameron embraces his father Ian in April, 2010. Photograph: Toby Melville

David Cameron embraces his father Ian in April, 2010. Photograph: Toby Melville

 

British prime minister David Cameron has insisted he derives no financial benefit from offshore accounts held by his late father, which were revealed in the Panama Papers.

The Panama Papers leak of millions of documents lifts the lid on how offshore companies are used by the global elite to conceal the ownership and control of assets and property worth billions. Members of The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which includes The Irish Times, have spent more than a year examining a cache of 11.5 million documents and records from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, one the biggest providers of offshore services to individuals, companies and middle men who advise them

Ian Cameron, who died in 2010, ran a multimillion pound investment fund for nearly 30 years, which was based in the Bahamas to avoid paying British tax.

Amid opposition calls for an investigation into all British citizens identified in the Panama Papers, Downing Street yesterday moved to end speculation that Mr Cameron continued to benefit from his father’s offshore fund.

“To be clear, the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds. The prime minister owns no shares. As has been previously reported, Mrs Cameron owns a small number of shares connected to her father’s land, which she declares on her tax return,” a spokesperson said.

Mr Cameron himself appeared to sidestep a question about whether he or his family had ever benefited from Blairmore Holdings, his father’s offshore investment fund. Speaking in Birmingham, where he was making a speech in favour of Britain remaining in the EU, the prime minister gave a reply that was carefully worded in the present tense.

“In terms of my own financial affairs, I own no shares. I have a salary as prime minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house, which we used to live in, which we now let out while we are living in Downing Street and that’s all I have. I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And, so that, I think, is a very clear description,” he said.

Investigation

Earlier, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for an investigation into Blairmore Holdings and all funds held by British citizens identified in the Panama Papers to determine whether or not tax had been paid.

The Labour leader said the documents had exposed an “industrial scale of tax evasion” and he called for Britain to impose direct rule on overseas territories such as the British Virgin Islands which feature prominently as tax havens.

A small group of Caribbean islands with a population of 30,000, the British Virgin Islands have an independent parliament, although the governor is appointed by London and Britain retains control of foreign and defence policy.

“Many of those tax havens are British overseas territories or crown dependencies. The government needs to stop pussyfooting around on tax dodging. There cannot be one set of tax rules for the wealthy elite and another for the rest of us. This unfairness and abuse must stop. No more lip service. The richest must pay their way,” he said.

Mr Corbyn pointed out that overseas territories had been brought under direct rule during the financial crisis of 2008-09 and could easily be taken under control again.

“I’m saying to those governments, hang on, what are you doing? You’re actually sheltering a large number of people who ought to be paying tax to the British government for the services for people from whom you’ve made the money,” he said.

Tax evasion

The revelations in the Panama Papers come as Mr Cameron prepares to host an international anti-corruption summit next month. Downing Street yesterday claimed Britain was leading the global fight against tax evasion.

The government is planning to introduce 25 measures by 2020, aimed at tackling tax avoidance, evasion, offshore evasion and aggressive tax planning.