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    Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, addresses the Conservative Spring Forum in central London, Britain April 9, 2016.

    Damage Control: Cameron to Face Grilling Over Offshore Trust Fund Links

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    UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to face a grilling by MPs on Monday over his past involvement with offshore funds, as the PM sets out new plans to crack down on tax evasion. The measures come amid increasing pressure on government ministers to publish their own tax histories.

    Cameron will address the House of Commons for the first time since it was revealed he held shares in the Blairmore Holdings, a Bahamas-based offshore investment fund set up by his late father, Ian.

    The scandal, and Cameron's subsequent failure to immediately disclose his connection to his father's trust fund has led to a political crisis for the prime minister, with calls from some opposition MPs and members of the public for him to resign.

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn upped the ante on the PM, saying Cameron had "misled the public" and "lost the trust of the British people" after releasing four ambiguous statements in as many days before finally admitting that he had owned shares in Blairmore Holdings, which he sold before taking office in 2010.

    The revelations, which stemmed from the leaked Panama Papers, have dealt a serious blow to Cameron's credibility on the issue of tax evasion, with many accusing the prime minister of merely paying lip service to the tackling the issue.

    While Cameron has publicly spoken strongly of his desire to crack down on offshore tax evasion, labeling the practice "morally wrong," critics have pointed to his inaction over many of the UK's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, which are used by many businesses and individuals to avoid paying significant levels of tax.

    Damage Control

    As a result of the public backlash, the prime minister's team have gone into damage control to try and wrest back initiative on the issue.

    Cameron is on Monday to outline new legislation that will make companies criminally liable if employees aid tax evasion, with the measures expected to be introduced before the year's end.

    The prime minister is also expected to defend his record on the matter of tax evasion, with Cameron previously arguing that his government "has done more than any other to take action against corruption in all its forms."

    Despite releasing tax statements for the six years that he has been in office, Cameron's image on the matter was further dented after it was revealed he received a US$285,000 (£200,000) gift from his mother, following the death of his father — with some critics suggesting this meant the PM could have avoided paying inheritance tax.

    There have also been suggestions that Cameron should disclose his financial activities in the years prior to becoming prime minister.

    Attention Turns to Ministers

    With Cameron releasing his tax statements and opposition figures pledging to do the same, pressure is now mounting on a number of senior government ministers to be more transparent with their own financial affairs. 

    Chancellor George Osborne, who is responsible for the current tax regime, and Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who was a former investment banker, have also been encouraged to release their tax statements.

    The calls for greater transparency come as Mayor of London and Conservative Party leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson failed to condemn the use of offshore funds.

    When questioned by a Channel 4 reporter during a stroll around London whether it was "morally wrong" to use offshore trusts and funds, Johnson batted away the question, saying: "depends what you're doing." 

    Topic:
    #PanamaPapers: Biggest Ever Offshore Leaks (94)

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    Tags:
    offshore, tax haven, transparency, crisis, tax evasion, leaked documents, tax breaks, politics, Panama papers, Jeremy Corbyn, George Osborne, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Great Britain, United Kingdom
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