The Panama Papers: British Prime Minister David Cameron admits profiting from offshore trust

On Tuesday, it became clear that Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigned, after immense pressure from protesters following his involvement in the Panama Papers investigation. The following day, the British Prime Minister David Cameron told British ITV television that he was benefiting from an offshore fund his late father set up. It was the first time that Cameron answered questions of whether he profited from the investment trust following days of pressure after the Panama Papers leak became official. Ian Cameron, the Prime Minister’s father, avoided paying taxes in Britain by hiring a small amount of Bahamas residents, as well as a bishop, who would sign the paperwork. The Blairmore Holdings Inc, of which he was a director, is an investment fund operated from the Bahamas and still exists today.

The Prime Minister owned 5000 units in the Blairmore Investment Trust, which were sold in January 2010, four months before he came into office. The total amount of the stake was worth about £30,000 ($78,000 AUD). The reason he sold the units was because of the upcoming elections, and if elected, he “didn’t want anyone to say [he had] other agendas, vested interests”. According to the Cameron, he paid income tax on the dividends, but the profit on it was less than the capital gains tax allowance, hence he didn’t pay capital gains tax. He states that the criticism against him is based on their misunderstood assumption that the trust was initiated in order to avoid paying tax, which it wasn’t. British newspaper, The Guardian, reported in the week that the Blairmore had not paid taxes on its profits in the last three decades. Cameron, however, denies these allegations by arguing that the fund was subject to British tax authorities. He is furthermore willing to make his affairs transparent, as he stated in the interview: “I don’t have anything to hide”. At this moment, there has not been any evidence that Cameron had done anything illegal.

The millions of leaked documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca became public on Sunday of last week and revealed how many rich are able to hoard their money while avoiding paying taxes. Other than well-known businessmen, celebrities and sports starts, the documents uncovers the involvement of 12 former and current heads of state, such as the current Argentine President Mauricio Macro and Ukraine’s President Petro Proshenko. While Cameron’s father was one of the thousands of others revealed in the leak, the PM’s office maintains that his family no longer benefits from funds of the sort at present. The intense media speculation regarding Cameron’s involvement of the offshore fund is much owed to his work against tax evasion, particularly in British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands. The Labor Party opposition has however criticised Cameron’s government in dealing with this issue in light of the Panama Papers.














Sally Wennergren