Queen and Donald Trump aide allegedly implicated in Paradise Papers scandal
An explosive leak of documents has laid bare the financial affairs of the global elite, including claims that the Queen has a personal fortune invested in an offshore tax haven.
Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the 13.4 million documents reportedly tie major companies and political figures to secretive overseas arrangements.
Former Conservative treasurer Lord Ashcroft and US president Donald Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross – who is alleged to have ties to a Russian firm – are among those said to be named in the disclosure.
Meanwhile the Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the Queen, was found to have millions of pounds invested in offshore arrangements.
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 their overseas investments exposed by the files, which are also said to reveal that major global companies have exploited offshore schemes to avoid tax.
The political reverberations of the release began to be felt almost immediately.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the data “proves” that “there’s one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest when it comes to paying tax.”
His concern was echoed by Meg Hillier, the chairwoman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, who said senior officials from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) would appear before the panel on Monday to explain its plan of action.
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, it is claimed.
Social media, technology and sports companies are also said to have money sheltered in overseas havens, alongside a line-up of A-list celebrities.
The government responded to the disclosure by defending its record on combating tax avoidance and evasion.
A treasury spokeswoman said: “Since 2010, the government has secured an additional £160bn, more than the annual UK NHS budget, for our vital public services by tackling tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance.
“This includes more than £2.8bn from those trying to hide money abroad to avoid paying what they owe.
“There are 26,000 HMRC staff tackling tax avoidance and evasion, and we have provided an extra £800m to fund their efforts.”