British PM releases tax summary amid offshore row

British PM releases tax summary amid offshore row

LONDON - Agence France-Presse
British PM releases tax summary amid offshore row

AFP photo

British Prime Minister David Cameron on April 10 released his tax details in a bid to head off a row over his father’s offshore business, and announced a new taskforce to scrutinize the so-called Panama Papers.

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside Cameron’s office April 9 calling for his resignation after he finally admitted to having held shares in his late father’s Bahamas-based investment fund, which cropped up in the documents leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Cameron took the unprecedented step of publishing a summary of his tax returns over the past six years, and revealed that he had received a 200,000-pound ($280,000, 240,000 euros) worth gift from his mother, on top of the 300,000 inheritance from his father.

It is likely to raise further questions about whether the gift from his mother came in part from offshore funds.

The prime minister admitted on April 9 it had “not been a great week,” and that he “should have handled” the situation better, having at first said it was a private matter.

“I know there are lessons to learn and I will learn them.

“Don’t blame Number 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers; blame me.”
The revelations appeared to have undermined Cameron’s claims to be spearheading a global clampdown on offshore havens.

But the prime minister on April 10 insisted Britain was at the “forefront of international action to tackle aggressive tax avoidance and evasion” with the announcement of the 10 million taskforce, according to a statement from the Treasury.

The force will be led by the HMRC tax authority and the National Crime Agency, and will investigate the leaked files from Mossack Fonseca to identify clients suspected of money laundering and tax evasion.

Cameron admitted last week that he and his wife had held a stake in his father’s Blairmore Holdings scheme.

They bought the stake for 12,497 in 1997 and sold it for 31,500, four months before he became prime minister in 2010.

Meanwhile, a major anti-government rally attracted thousands of protesters in Iceland on April 9, the sixth consecutive day of protests since the document leak.

The leak has already claimed the scalp of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson following revelations that he and his wife owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands and had placed millions of dollars of her inheritance there.

In Panama, President Juan Carlos Varela said on April 8 that France’s decision to put the central American country on its list of tax havens in the wake of the revelations was “wrong.”