In this image taken from House of Commons TV, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron makes a statement to the House of Commons over his personal finances. Photo / AP
PM fights back
British Prime Minister David Cameron fought back after days of criticism over his finances, lashing out at what he called hurtful and untrue claims about his late father’s investments sparked by leaked details about the offshore accounts of the rich and famous.
Trying to restore his government’s shaken reputation, Cameron insisted that “aspiration and wealth creation are not somehow dirty words” and said Britain was acting to stop evasion in its overseas tax havens. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a “masterclass in the art of distraction”.
Cameron has been under mounting pressure since his father, Ian Cameron, was identified as a client of a Panamanian law firm that specialises in helping the wealthy reduce their tax burdens. Cameron published his tax returns on Monday.
“I accept all of the criticisms for not responding more quickly to these issues last week,” Cameron told MPs in the House of Commons. “But as I said, I was angry about the way my father’s memory was being traduced.”
Corbyn said the Panama Papers had “driven home is what many people have increasingly felt – there is now one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest.”Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Corbyn both published details of their own tax returns. So did London Mayor Boris Johnson, revealed to have paid almost £1 million in tax over the last four years.
“I’m honestly not sure that you fully appreciate the anger that is out there over this injustice,” he told Cameron.
Based on the Panama Papers revelations, Geneva prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation linked to an Amedeo Modigliani painting allegedly looted from a Jewish art dealer during World War II.
Prosecutor’s office spokesman Henri Della Casa said that the painting was confiscated last week at special tax zones known as the Geneva free ports. He declined to comment further.
Founder James Palmer of Mondex Corp., a Toronto firm that tracks despoiled artworks, says the Nazis stole the 1918 painting, Seated Man with a Cane, from collector Oscar Stettinger who fled Paris as the war began.
Palmer said the painting was estimated to be worth at least US$25 million. It was sold at a London auction in 1996 to an offshore company reportedly created by the Mossack Fonseca law firm.
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has ordered banks to freeze the accounts of people that the Government is investigating in connection with the leaked documents.
Public prosecutor Luisa Ortega told the television station Globovision that prosecutors are considering issuing arrest warrants for people named in the Panama Papers.
She didn’t say who might be affected. Venezuelans whose names have appeared in connection to the leak include a former top military officer, a former state oil company official and a security official who worked at the presidential palace during the administration of the late President Hugo Chavez.
President Nicolas Maduro asked Ortega to investigate last week. Venezuela is reportedly mentioned in 241,000 of the 11.5 million leaked documents.