David Cameron's father has been named in leaked documents revealing how the some of the world's rich elite hide their fortunes offshore.
The Prime Minister's father, Ian Cameron, who died in 2010, is among a group of senior Conservative peers and former MPs named in the 'Panama Papers' - a 11 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world's most secretive companies, based in Panama.
German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung received the documents from an unnamed source, before the International Consortium of Investigative Journalsts (ICIJ) passed them onto a select group of news organisations around the world. The documents have highlighted links between 72 former and current state leaders and suspicious dealings, including a $2bn money laundering scheme linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other leaders linked to Mossack Fonseca include Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. Families and close associates of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are also included.
It is understood that the late Mr Cameron used Mossack Fonseca to hide his wealth, linked to the investment fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc. It said Blairmore "should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for UK taxation purposes".
One thing repeatedly stressed in reporting of these leaks is that the use of offshore companies is not inherently illegal, and there is no accusation that those named have done anything illegal.
Former Tory donor and MP Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative MP Michael Mates, who was Northern Ireland minister under John Major, and Conservative life peer Baroness Pamela Sharples, are also named in the Mossack Fonseca documents.
It has been reported that Belize Corporate Services (BCS), a subsidiary of Lord Ashcroft's company, BCB Holdings, "began using Mossack Fonseca to provide shell corporations for its clients in 2006 when Ashcroft was in the House of Lords". Lord Ashcroft's spokesperson has denied the allegations, saying the claims that he, or his companies, had "partnered" or "done business" with Mossack Fonseca were "entirely false".
Mr Mates is linked to the Panamanian law firm through a company he chaired, Haylandale Limited, which was created and registered in the Bahamas with Mossack Fonseca. He said he was asked to chair the become as a favour for a friend. And Baroness Sharples was identified as a shareholder and director of Nunswell Investment Limited, which was also based in the Bahamas. Sharples' lawyers said she was a director of Nunswell in 200, when the company was registered in the UK.
The leaks come just weeks before David Cameron hosts a major summit on offshore tax issues. Launching his policy to tackle offshore tax schemes four years ago, the Prime Minister said: “If you want to arrange your tax affairs so you support your pension, you plan effectively for your family, that is one thing, and that is acceptable.
“But frankly some of these schemes where people are parking huge amounts of money offshore and taking loans back just to minimise their tax rates, it is not morally acceptable. It isn’t morally right to do that.”
Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International UK, has said the Anti-Corruption Summit must start the process of ending offshore schemes.
He said: “The Panama Papers seem to confirm the evidence from elsewhere that the world's corrupt elite are gaming the international financial system to launder and protect their stolen wealth.
“The only way to stop this grand corruption is through governments, businesses and others coming together and rejecting dirty cash as illegitimate. The time has come to stop turning a blind eye to anonymous purchases of luxury property and goods, refuse to issue un-vetted investment visas and create a legal framework that is fit for purpose in detecting flows of dirty cash."