PM resigns over disclosures from Panamian lawyers. Ah but that’s not our David Cameron, but Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson after previously denying in a televised interview that his family had any offshore investments.
David Cameron spelled it out. He holds “no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that” he said in a statement. My immediate reaction was “what a pity”. The failure of politicians to hold shares in listed companies means that they end up with no understanding of the problems or needs of individual shareholders. Indeed even if they are not left leaning to begin with, they consistently show no sympathy with investors. Would it not be better if they did hold shares so they could better understand what drives the success of UK companies and the UK economy as a whole?
Mr Cameron went on to say that he has a salary, an interest in a savings account and income from a house he lets out having moved into Number 10 Downing Street. Yes he could be perceived as one of those private landlords or buy-to-let investors recently targeted by the Government and the Bank of England as undermining the home-owning democracy that is the foundation of Conservative politics.
Our Prime Minister’s father did have an interest in offshore investment apparently but that is surely not new news. The UK Government has been active in trying to restrict the activities of offshore investment centres that can be a focus of money laundering, tax evasion and other nefarious activities. UK dependencies and former colonies are leaders in this field of course with states such as the British Virgin Islands enabling you to conceal totally who owns a company. This surely needs to be tackled more vigorously and the steps taken so far hardly plug the loopholes.
That is what enabled Mr Gunnlaugsson to deny any such thing and walk out of his previous TV interview because he knew it would be very unlikely that his lies would be revealed.