Rishi Sunak says HMRC will scour huge Pandora Papers trove to see if tax rules have been abused – and denies ever offshoring his own huge fortune

  • Sunak said that HM Revenue and Customs would examine the 12 million files
  • Documents detail the fortunes of the global super-rich including world leaders
  • Chancellor has vast fortune of his own, thought to be one of the richest MPs 

Rishi Sunak today pledged that UK authorities will scour the huge Pandora Papers data leak for evidence of tax avoidance – as he denied ever using offshore arrangements for his own massive fortune.

The Chancellor said that HM Revenue and Customs would examine the 12 million files released overnight, giving details of the fortunes of the global super-rich. 

The documents show how 35 current and former world leaders – including associates of Vladimir Putin – used accounts in tax havens to accrue huge amounts of wealth and carry out transactions.

The files come from 14 financial services companies in countries including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.

Mr Sunak has a vast fortune of his own. The Richmond MP has been dubbed the ‘Maharajah of the Yorkshire Dales and  is believed to be one of the richest Members of Parliament.

Asked if he has ever benefited from an offshore arrangement, he told Sky News today: ‘No. I haven’t.

‘I’ve seen these things overnight as well and it’s always tough for me to comment on them specifically given they’ve only just emerged, and of course HMRC will look through those to see if there’s anything we can learn.’

The Chancellor said that HM Revenue and Customs would examine the 12 million files released overnight, giving details of the fortunes of the global super-rich.

The documents show how 35 current and former world leaders – including associates of Vladimir Putin – used accounts in tax havens to accrue huge amounts of wealth and carry out transactions.

Mr Sunak alsThe documents show how 35 current and former world leaders – including associates of Vladimir Putin – used accounts in tax havens to accrue huge amounts of wealth and carry out transactions.o insisted the Tory party carries out the required legal checks on donors after it was reported a prominent donor was involved in one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘My understanding is we carry out compliance checks in line with the referendums and political parties legislation that was put in place by the Labour government.

‘Those are the checks that are required by law, those are the compliance checks that the party carries out.’

And he denied that the City’s role in tax avoidance is a ‘source of shame’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t think it’s a source of shame because actually our track record on this is very strong.

‘As you’ve seen from the papers, it’s a global problem, there’s a global dimension to it and we need other countries to co-operate with us to tackle this, but we’re determined to do that.’

The papers were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) before being studied by more than 650 reporters from BBC Panorama, the Guardian and more than 100 other news outlets.

They reveal that former British prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie saved some $434,000 (£321,000) in stamp duty when they bought an office in London by purchasing the offshore company that owned it.

Meanwhile Russian President Mr Putin was linked to secret assets in Monaco, while an offshore company owned by his alleged lover purchased a $4.1million apartment below the principality’s casino.

The luxury fourth-floor flat was purchased by Brockville Development Ltd, which was eventually traced back to Svetlana Krivonogikh, reported the Guardian.

The woman, who was 28 at the time, is said by Russian investigative outlet Proekt to be the mother of Putin’s child, after giving birth to Elizaveta, or Luiza, in March of the same year.

Meanwhile, the King of Jordan was able to secretly add £70million worth of property to his portfolios in the UK and US – mainly in Malibu, California and in London and Ascot, the papers showed.

While many of the transactions leaked in the papers – made by tens of thousands of different offshore firms -feature no legal wrongdoing, they expose how the UK Government has failed in its promise to bring in a register of offshore property owners.

There are concerns that some of the purchases could be the work of money laundering – while some of those named now face allegations of corruption and global tax avoidance.

The release of the documents could not have come at a worse time for Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – who is facing an election later this week – as they show how he failed to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two villas for $16.2million in the south of France.

The papers follow four other huge data leaks in the past seven years – including the FinCen Files, the Paradise Papers, Panama Papers and LuxLeaks.

They also show how some 95,000 offshore firms were legally set up to secretly by property in Britain.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family and close associates snapped up more than $500million (£400million) worth of property in the UK, the papers revealed.

They also appeared to have made a tidy $41.9million (£31million) profit after selling a London property to the Queen’s Crown Estate, which is managed by the Treasury.

The group bought 17 properties, including an office block in London for $44.6million (£33million) for the president’s son Heydar Aliyev, aged 11.

The building, in the exclusive Borough of Mayfair, was bought by a front company owned by a family friend of President Ilham in 2009 before being transferred a month later to young Heydar.

According to the papers, a second nearby office block, also owned by the family, was sold to the Crown Estate for $89.3million (£66million) in 2018.

The Crown Estate is now reportedly looking into the purchase, but said it conducted the sale using all the checks required by the law at the time.

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