The Queen has become embroiled in an explosive leak of financial documents laying bare investments in offshore tax havens by the world’s rich and powerful.
A disclosure of 13.4 million documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, reportedly tie major companies and political figures to secretive overseas arrangements.
Among those said to be named in the tranche of material is former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft and US President Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who is reportedly linked to a Russian firm.
The Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the Queen, was found to have millions of pounds invested in offshore arrangements.
Around PS10 million ($A20 million) from the Queen’s private fund was paid into funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda between 2004 and 2005, according to reports.
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A small part of the cash was traced to a lender which has previously been criticised for ripping off poor customers.
The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.
“We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds,” a spokesman for the estate said.
“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.
“British taxpayers will be rightly outraged by the content of these disclosures,” she said.
“Every pound moved offshore to avoid paying tax deprives public services of vital funds.
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.
A small portion of the Queen’s investments – PS3,208 – was found to have bought a holding in the lender BrightHouse, the BBC and The Guardian reported.
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