UK leader should have handled Panama Papers ‘better’
British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that he bungled his admission of his investment in an offshore fund revealed in the mammoth data breach of a Panama law firm.
“Well, it not been a great week,” he told Conservative Party members. “I could have handled this better. I know there are lessons to learn, and I will learn them. And don’t blame No. 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers. Blame me.”
It was Cameron’s first public appearance since his admission Thursday night that he had owned shares in a Bahamasbased trust from 1997 to 2010. He had sidestepped persistent questions on the issue for four days with a string of obfuscating statements issued through aides.
Cameron faces mounting pressure from opposition politicians to reveal the full extent of his past investment in offshore investments, particularly those run by his late father, Ian, a millionaire stockbroker who placed much off his savings in trusts based in island tax havens. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and others say they will press Cameron on the issue when Parliament reconvenes on Monday.
The British prime minister is one of scores of political leaders, celebrities and sports stars who have been linked to shell companies and investment trusts organised by the Panama City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in registering offshore companies.
Cameron has made the closure of global tax loopholes a focal point of his government - and rejected charges of hypocrisy on the issue.
“This government that I lead will go on very clearly, doggedly, determinedly making sure we crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance,” he said.
Cameron admitted that he owned shares in his father’s Bahama trust from 1997 to 2010, but sold that stake for a $30,500 profit shortly before becoming prime minister that year.