LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted on Thursday he had a 30,000 pounds stake in an offshore fund set up by his father, after days of pressure following publication of the so-called Panama Papers.

“We owned 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like 30,000 pounds ($42,000),” Cameron told ITV television. Cameron, whose father ran an offshore investment fund according to the Panama Papers, wrote to European leaders in 2013 to warn against opening offshore trusts to full scrutiny.

The letter, published on the government website at the time, was brought to public attention by the Financial Times on Thursday amid the global Panama Papers scandal.

Finding himself under pressure to reveal whether he benefited from offshore assets following his father’s death in 2010, Cameron has so far only said that there were “no offshore trusts or funds” that he or his immediate family would benefit from “in future”.

However, the publication of the letter sent in 2013 raised further questions about what happened to his father’s assets from Blairmore Holdings Inc, details of which were revealed by the leak from Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca.

The two-page note to former European Council president Herman Van Rompuy backed an EU clampdown on secretive offshore shell companies but argued against extending the clampdown to trusts.

Offshore trusts can be used to protect its beneficiaries from paying tax on its assets, which can include property, cash and trading companies.

In the letter Cameron wrote: “As we clamp down on the misuse of companies, we must take care not to displace illicit activity elsewhere.

“I know some want Europe to go even further to prevent the abuse of trusts and related private legal agreements.

“It is clearly important we recognise the important differences between companies and trusts,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2016


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