How much are you worth, Dave? Panama Leaks hint at vast personal wealth for Cameron
The PM has been rocked by the Panama Papers, which exposed the offshore financial dealings of his late father Ian Cameron.
Challenged by Sky News on Tuesday night, Cameron said: “In terms of my own financial affairs, I own no shares. I have a salary as prime minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house, which we used to live in, which we now let out while we are living in Downing Street, and that’s all I have.”
Downing Street has been forced to release several statements insisting the Cameron family does not benefit from offshore funds and will not benefit in the future. Both Cameron and his office have insisted his tax affairs are a “private matter.”
Fair tax champion?
Cameron’s alleged links to tax dodging are particularly damaging given he has previously condemned tax reduction initiatives.
In September 2015 he called for more transparency and urged territories like the Cayman Islands to create a public register of financial interests.
He told the Jamaican parliament at the time he wanted to “break the business model of stealing money and hiding it in places where it can’t be seen: transparency is the answer.”
He claimed he had “taken the lead” in making sure “terrorists, tax-avoiders, money launderers and criminals have nowhere to hide their ill-gotten gains.”
“Some of the British crown dependences and overseas territories are making progress in this direction. Others, frankly, are not moving anywhere near fast enough,” he added.
Sins of the fathers?
Besides trying to position himself as a champion of fair taxation, Old Etonian Cameron has long sought to shrug off his ‘old money’ background.
That task has not been helped by the fact he is a fifth cousin of the Queen, nor the fact his ancestors amassed a fortune from slave labor in the Caribbean.
A 2015 study by University College London study showed his ancestor General Sir James Duff received £3 million (US$4.2 million) in today’s money as compensation for the 202 slaves he had to free when the practice was abolished.
What’s in the bank?
The actual extent of Cameron’s wealth remains an enigma, but he was forced to deny having £30 million in the bank during a 2009 interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr.
On Tuesday the Guardian excerpted a passage from a recent critical book on the PM which said his late father left him around £3 million in his will. This sum, however, constituted UK assets only.
Downing St can wriggle but @David_Cameron has to tell whether his family benefits from offshore Panama fund. He's 1st Lord of Treasury— Andrew Pierce (@toryboypierce) April 4, 2016
His late father also had financial links to Switzerland, which may indicate vastly more money is lurking in the family vault, journalist Isabel Oakeshott claimed. The family’s offshore firm Blairmore Holdings Inc. was moved to Ireland in 2010 – the year Cameron was elected.
Cameron’s wife Samantha, daughter of an aristocrat whose baronetcy dates back to 1755, has a substantial property portfolio worth around £20 million, Oakeshott said.
How many homes?
David Cameron claims to own just one house. This jars however with comments he made in 2009, which appear to indicate he was unsure how much property he actually has.
He told the Times: “I own a house in North Kensington which you’ve been to and my house in the constituency in Oxfordshire and that is, as far as I know, all I have.”
He then asked the journalist not to mention he said “not that I can think of” in case it made him sound “like a prat.”
Parliament is currently in Easter recess, so Cameron will not have to face a grilling at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.However, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been quick to seize upon Cameron’s exposed flank, demanding an independent inquiry into the PM’s financial affairs.