Iceland PM quits in offshore leaks saga

Iceland’s prime minister has resigned amid controversy over his offshore holdings.

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson is stepping down as leader of the country’s coalition government, said agriculture minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson.

Thousands of Icelanders protested outside the parliament building in Reykjavik on Monday, demanding that Mr Gunnlaugsson resign over reported offshore financial dealings by him and his wife that opposition lawmakers say amount to a major conflict of interest with his job.

Mr Gunnlaugsson would be the first major figure brought down by a leak of more than 11m financial documents from a Panamanian law firm showing tax-avoidance arrangements of the rich and famous around the world.

Meanwhile, British prime minister David Cameron has said he has “no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds”, after questions were raised about his family’s tax affairs following the Panama Papers data leak.

Iceland PM quits in offshore leaks saga

Labour has demanded an independent investigation into the tax affairs of those implicated by the records, which includes details about Mr Cameron’s late father, Ian Cameron.

During a visit to Birmingham, Mr Cameron said the information should be used to ensure companies and individuals are paying the tax they should but sidestepped calls for a probe: “In terms of my own financial affairs, I own no shares. I have a salary as prime minister and I have some savings, which I get some interest from, and I have a house, which we used to live in, which we now let out while we are living in Downing Street, and that’s all I have.

“I own no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that. And so that, I think, is a very clear description.”

Mr Cameron declined to say if his family had benefited in the past or were likely to in the future from the offshore arrangements highlighted in the papers. He insisted that “no prime minister has done more” to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

Mr Cameron’s father ran an offshore fund which avoided ever paying tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents — including a part-time bishop — to sign paperwork, according to The Guardian.

Ian Cameron, who died in 2010, was a director of Blairmore Holdings Inc, which, until 2006, used unregistered “bearer shares” to protect its clients’ privacy.

His use of the firm to help shield investments from UK tax helped build up a significant legacy, part of which was inherited by the prime minister.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed suggestions that the Camerons’ tax arrangements were a “private” matter: “It’s a private matter in so far as it’s a privately held interest, but it’s not a private matter if tax has not been paid.”


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