London - UK opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said an inquiry into offshore investments and tax evasion that he’s calling for should also cover Queen Elizabeth II’s holdings.
The monarch found her financial arrangements splashed over British newspaper front pages Monday after leaked information, known as the Paradise Papers, from Bermuda law firm Appleby showed she had made a series of investments in a Cayman Islands fund through the British Royal Family’s private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster.
Labour has called for a public inquiry into what’s revealed by the documents, reported by a range of international media including the BBC and Britain’s Guardian newspaper. In an interview with Bloomberg Television in London on Monday, Corbyn said he also wants the royal investments to be looked at.
“There should be a review,” the Labour leader said. “An inquiry into all the revelations about the Paradise Papers.” Asked if that includes the queen, Corbyn replied: “Everybody. The Royal Household are subject to taxation. I don’t know what has happened in that case. These issues all must be part of that.”
The reporting of the royal investment showed that part of the money had been channeled to rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse, which is paying than 14m pounds (R260m) in compensation to 249 000 customers after failing to meet the standards of the Financial Conduct Authority.
“Please understand the public anger and consternation at the scale of tax avoidance revealed yet again today,” Corbyn said in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference earlier Monday.
“We are talking about tens of billions that are effectively being leached from our vital public services by a super-rich elite that holds the taxation system and the rest of us in contempt.”
Time to act
Labour’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, repeated the call for a public inquiry in the House of Commons, telling lawmakers that “if this government refuses to act, this next Labour government will.”
Responding to McDonnell, Treasury minister Mel Stride told Parliament that the UK tax agency “will continue to bear down with vigour on any tax avoidance or evasion activity wherever it may be found.”
At the same time, the agency’s chief executive officer, Jon Thompson, was telling the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that his department requested access to the Paradise Papers two weeks ago and hadn’t received a reply.
One case in particular was of potential interest to the authorities, he said, without giving more details.
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