I have to cop to a failure here: on Tuesday, when I tried to very superficially summarize the Panama Papers leak, I noted that the two biggest stories coming out of the document dump so far were the revelations about Vladimir Putin’s potentially massive illicit financial network and the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister. But I failed to mention the third potential whopper of a story, involving UK Prime Minister David Cameron:
David Cameron has finally admitted he benefited from a Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father.
After three days of stalling and four partial statements issued by Downing Street he confessed that he owned shares in the tax haven fund, which he sold for £31,500 just before becoming prime minister in 2010.
In a specially arranged interview with ITV News’ Robert Peston he confirmed a direct link to his father’s UK-tax avoiding fund, details of which were exposed in the Panama Papers revelations in the Guardian this week.
Admitting it had been “a difficult few days”, the prime minister said he held the shares together with his wife, Samantha, from 1997 and during his time as leader of the opposition. They were sold in January 2010 for a profit of £19,000.
There are also questions about a £300,000 inheritance that Cameron received from his father, some or all of which may also have been connected to this offshore trust, named Blairmore. Per The Guardian, Cameron is now on his fifth story about his past offshore financial dealings in the last four days, which is obviously not a good look, and it also doesn’t look so great that Cameron, who has tried to go after tax dodgers since becoming PM, may have been a tax dodger himself in the not too distant past. He’s denying that the trust was established offshore in order to evade British taxes, but there are calls for full investigations and even a few calls for him to resign. I don’t imagine this will be enough to bring Cameron down, but if any further damaging revelations come out of this leak then his chances of remaining in office go down precipitously. It hasn’t been a good week for him, needless to say.