Tuesday 21 November 2017

Queen should say sorry and be investigated over offshore cash - Corbyn

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: PA
Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: PA

Christopher Hope

Queen Elizabeth should apologise and be investigated for allowing her advisers to place cash in offshore investments, the leader of Britain's Labour Party has said.

Jeremy Corbyn also said the royal household should be investigated over why the queen's private estate allegedly invested £5.7m (€6.5m) in a Cayman Islands fund.

A further £5m (€5.7m) had been invested in 2004 in the Bermuda-based Jubilee Absolute Return Fund Ltd, according to files obtained from a law firm with operations in Bermuda and the Isle of Man, dubbed the 'Paradise Papers'.

The queen's assets are invested by the Duchy of Lancaster. Its investment strategy is decided by a council, and the queen pays tax voluntarily on any income.

Mr Corbyn said: "There should be a review. An inquiry into all the revelations about the 'Paradise Papers'."

Asked if that included the queen, Mr Corbyn replied: "Everybody. The royal household is subject to taxation. I don't know what has happened in that case. These issues all must be part of that."

Earlier Mr Corbyn was asked whether the queen should "apologise for her private estate making offshore investments as revealed in the 'Paradise Papers'".

Mr Corbyn replied: "Anyone that is putting money into tax havens in order to avoid taxation in Britain, and obviously investigations have to take place, should do two things - not just apologise for it, but also recognise what it does to our society.

"If a very wealthy person wants to avoid taxation in Britain, and therefore put money into a tax haven somewhere, who loses? Schools, hospitals, housing, all those public services lose and the rest of the population has to pay to cover up the deficit.

"We simply have to challenge the culture that there is something clever about avoiding taxation. Taxation is what gives us ambulances.

"We all have the responsibility to pay for it. It undermines every one of us here, who pay our taxes properly."

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn later tried to say he had not called for the queen to apologise. He said: "Jeremy did not call for the queen to apologise, but said anyone who puts money into a tax haven to avoid paying tax should, and that they should recognise the damage done by avoidance to society."

While there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing, it is the first time that the queen's offshore investments have been revealed.

A spokesman for the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited."

Irish Independent

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