19:38 GMT +309 December 2019
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    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street in London.

    Curse of Cameron: Denials, Trials and Tribulations Haunt British PM

    © AFP 2019 / Ben Stansall
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    UK Prime Minister David Cameron goes into the weekend licking his wounds after a week in which he has flip-flopped over his family's offshore tax haven activities and got a pummeling over his decision to use taxpayers' money to fund a pro-EU referendum campaign.

    Cameron's week did not get off to a good start on Monday April 4, when the Panama Papers were published revealing how the rich and powerful have been using a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca to move assets abroad to tax havens in an effort to reduce their tax.

    Hundreds took to social media to express their discontent with the British PM and #CurseDavidCameron has been trending on Twitter ever since.

    In took journalists no time to root through the papers and find that Blairmore Holdings — his late father's company — had used the firm to run investment funds in Panama and Geneva. Given that Cameron had been publicly calling for tax transparency for more than three years, reporters thought he had something to answer for.

    Had his privileged upbringing been funded by a father who made his millions out of aggressive tax planning? Did Cameron himself still benefit for the same tax scam? His first answer — through his spokeswoman — was: "That is a private matter."

    Pressed again on the issue, Downing Street stonewalled, saying: "The prime minister doesn't own any shares."

    By Tuesday, Cameron was forced to open up a little, saying: "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. I have no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And, so that, I think, is a very clear description."

    By Wednesday, the question of whether Cameron had benefited from a tax avoidance scheme was answered with a little more clarity by Downing Street: "There are no offshore funds/trusts which the prime minister, Mrs Cameron or their children will benefit from in future." The words "in future" had journalists agog.

    'It Has Been a Difficult Few Days'

    By Thursday, Cameron's evasion was too much — even for him — and he finally admitted that he had, indeed, benefitted from the Panamanian trust, Blairmore, set up by his father Ian — which he sold shortly before becoming Prime Minister in 2010 — to the tune of a US$422,000.

    "It has been a difficult few days, reading criticisms of my father and his business practices — my dad a man I love and admire and miss every day. But I should deal with the past as well. Because of course I did own stocks and shares in the past — quite naturally because my father was a stockbroker.

    "I sold them all in 2010, because if I was going to become prime minister I didn't want anyone to say you have other agendas, vested interests. Samantha and I have a joint account. We owned 5000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like £30,000. I paid income tax on the dividends," he told ITV News.

    "He [his father] left me some money, very generously, quite a lot of money. It was [US$422,000]. I obviously can't point to every source of every bit of the money, and dad isn't around to ask the questions now. I've never hidden the fact that I am a very lucky person. I had wealthy parents who gave me a great upbringing. Who paid for me to go to an amazing school. I have never tried to be anything I am not," Cameron said.

    At the end of a week when he was also accused of using taxpayers' money to fund a pro-EU campaign over the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union — stealing a march on anti-EU campaigners by spending US$13 million ahead of the official campaign period — Cameron faces a weekend when he hopes bad news will just blow away.

    Evading the issue on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before fessing-up by Friday has made Britain's Prime Minister appear evasive, which will make for taxing times ahead.

    Related:

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    Cameron Admits to Having Sold Offshore Fund Share
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    Cameron Refutes Having Offshore Income After Panama Papers Leak
    Cameron Accused of Hypocrisy and Soft-Pedaling Over Tax Havens
    'There's Singapore, London, Zurich': Panama Papers 'Tip of the Iceberg'
    Tags:
    offshore, taxpayers, Brexit, tax haven, tax evasion, leaked documents, campaign, politics, Panama papers, Britain's EU referendum, Mossack Fonseca & Co, David Cameron, Great Britain, Europe, United Kingdom
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