Labour call for public inquiry after Paradise papers

Labour has said a public inquiry is urgently needed to restore public confidence in the tax system.

Donald Trump and the Queen. Picture: PA
Donald Trump and the Queen. Picture: PA

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "These papers have revealed widespread massive tax avoidance."To have such a large number of rich individuals avoiding their taxes means that we don't have our taxes to pay for vital public services like the NHS, like education, like the care of our children by local councils.

"We called for a public inquiry 18 months ago into tax avoidance and we desperately need it now to restore confidence in our taxation system."Among those said to be named in the papers are former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft and US president Donald Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who is reportedly linked to a Russian firm.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Read More

Read More
Private estate of the Queen invests millions in tax havens

The Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the Queen, was found to have millions of pounds invested in offshore arrangements.About £10 million from the Queen's private fund was paid into funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda between 2004 and 2005, according to reports.A small part of the money was traced to a lender which has previously been criticised for ripping off poor customers.

The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.A spokesman for the estate said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds."All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate."

The Paradise Papers represent the biggest data leak since the Panama Papers release last year, and have been analysed by almost 100 media organisations.Hundreds of individuals and companies reportedly have had their overseas investments exposed by the files, which are also said to reveal that major global companies have exploited offshore schemes to avoid tax.

First obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, the documents stem from two offshore service providers and company registries from 19 tax havens, the Guardian reports.The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists oversaw the project.

A small portion of the Queen's investments - £3,208 - was found to have bought a holding in lender BrightHouse, the BBC and the Guardian reported.The rent-to-buy firm has previously been accused of exploiting customers with high interest rates, but maintains it does responsible business.

Money ended up in BrightHouse via a company called Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP, in which the Duchy of Lancaster reportedly invested 7.5 million US dollars (£5.73 million) in 2005.The organisation bought an interest in a project involved in the takeover of BrightHouse and Threshers, which went bust.

A further £5 million was invested in 2004 in the Bermuda-based Jubilee Absolute Return Fund Ltd.The Dover Street investment is said to form only 0.3% of the total value of the Duchy.

Beyond the UK, the White House was hit by fresh claims that it has ties to Russia.Wilbur Ross is allegedly shown by the papers to have money in a shipping company which deals with Russian leader Vladimir Putin's son-in-law.The Russian firm Navigator, in which the offshore investments are reportedly held, has a partnership with Sibur, a gas company co-owned by Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Mr Putin's daughter.

Social media, technology and sports companies are also said to have money sheltered in overseas havens, alongside a line-up of A-list celebrities.A Treasury spokeswoman said £2.8 billion of the additional £160 billion recouped by HM Revenue and Customs since 2010 came from "those trying to hide money abroad and to avoid paying what they owe".

She also highlighted an extra £800 million the Government has provided to fund the efforts of 26,000 HMRC staff tackling tax avoidance and evasion.