UPDATE: 11:25 a.m. EDT — Labour Party Member of Parliament Dennis Skinner has been expelled for the day after refusing to withdraw his comments calling Prime Minister David Cameron “Dodgy Dave.” His remark came as Cameron fielded questions from Parliament concerning his late father’s offshore company while he was defending his own tax record.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron faced questions from Parliament on Monday following the release of his tax returns amid continuing controversy involving the Panama Papers leak. The millions of documents obtained from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca firm revealed that Cameron once owned shares in his father's offshore company, causing U.K. politicians to demand he clarify his involvement in any offshore dealings.
Cameron's release of his tax returns was unprecedented, and it may become common practice for future prime ministers, Cameron noted in his address to Parliament. He was critical of the idea that all members of Parliament should similarly be required to publish their tax returns, saying in part, “We should think carefully before abandoning all taxpayer confidentiality as some have suggested.”
The prime minister defended his father, calling accusations of tax evasion “hurtful and profoundly untrue,” noting that he personally had sold his shares in his father’s company in 2010. He also addressed the question of inheritance following his father's death in 2010. The prime minister received 300,000 pounds, or around $424,000, according to exchange rates at the time from his father, the New York Times reported. In addition, Cameron got 200,000 pounds, or about $282,400, from his mother in 2011, who is still living. All taxes had been paid on both sums and were in full compliance with the law, the prime minister said. It was still unclear whether those sums had come from offshore funds, however.
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The British Virgin Islands and other U.K. territories have also come under fire for their tax loopholes, with some critics — including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — accusing them of being tax havens.
“We should differentiate between schemes designed to artificially reduce tax and those that are encouraging investment,” Cameron told Parliament, defending his government's record of closing tax loopholes in the U.K.
Corbyn slammed the prime minister in response, calling it a “scandal” that more than half of the companies identified by the Panama Papers were created in the British Virgin Islands. “The U.K. is at the heart of the global tax avoidance industry,” Corbyn said.