Panama Papers: I mishandled share controversy, says Cameron

British PM David Cameron had confessed earlier to having held shares in his late father's Bahamas-based investment fund.
British PM David Cameron had confessed earlier to having held shares in his late father's Bahamas-based investment fund.

LONDON • British Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that he mishandled the controversy over his shares in his father's offshore business interests, which were flushed out by the Panama Papers revelations.

Mr Cameron said he would publish his tax returns and shouldered the blame for the row over his financial affairs, after he confessed on Thursday to having held shares in his late father's Bahamas-based offshore investment fund.

His stake came to light among the millions of documents, collectively dubbed the Panama Papers, which detail offshore companies set up in tax havens.

 
 

"It has not been a great week. I know that I should have handled this better, I could have handled this better," Mr Cameron told his Conservative Party's spring forum in London yesterday.

Mr Cameron and his wife had held a stake in his father's Blairmore Holdings scheme. They bought the stake for £12,497 in 1997 and sold it for £31,500 (S$60,000), four months before he became prime minister in 2010.

Mr Ramon Fonseca, a founding partner of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm hit by the huge leak of offshore financial data, told German Bild newspaper's Saturday edition his company had not yet been approached by anyone as part of investigations.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is investigating 16 Thai nationals identified in the Panama Papers but has so far not found any evidence of wrongdoing. The individuals are among the powerful businessmen, politicians and their associates around the world whose names have been exposed through the document leaks.

In a press conference on Friday, Amlo acting secretary-general Seehanat Prayoonrat said although recent news reports about the leak had cited 21 Thais, it was only able to verify 16 of them. He would not reveal the names, pending verification.

Amlo added in a press release that individuals who set up offshore firms could have chosen to do so because of tax benefits. While it is legal to set up firms in tax havens like Panama, such arrangements can be used to launder money or evade sanctions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

•Additional reporting by Tan Hui Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'I mishandled share controversy: Cameron'. Print Edition | Subscribe