United Kingdom

David Cameron accused of 'hypocrisy' over role at firm based in tax haven Bermuda

David Cameron is facing yet more scrutiny over his role at a software firm based in 'offshore tax haven', Bermuda.  

The former Prime Minister has been accused of 'deep hypocrisy' by critics for chairing the advisory board at a firm called Afiniti. 

The software business, which provides technology for call centres in Pakistan, boasts names on its payroll including Princess Beatrice and Prince Harry's old friend Tom Inskip.

The company is based in Bermuda - which was dubbed the 'world's worst corporate tax haven' in 2016 by Oxfam.

In 2013, then-Premier Cameron announced a global crackdown on tax avoidance.

David Cameron is facing further scrutiny over his role at a software firm based in Bermuda

The controversy over the relationship between Government and the private sector follows disclosures that Mr Cameron personally lobbied Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Greensill's behalf and was able to arrange for its founder, Lex Greensill (pictured), to have a 'private drink' with Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Afiniti, run by former Morgan Stanley banker Zia Chrishti, has a payroll resembling a Who's Who of the top echelon of British society. 

WHAT ARE OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS AND HOW ARE THEY USED? 

WHAT ARE OFFSHORE OR SHELL ACCOUNTS?

Offshore bank accounts and other financial dealings in another country can be used to evade regulatory oversight or tax obligations. 

Often, companies or individuals use shell companies, initially incorporated without significant assets or operations, to disguise ownership or other information about the funds involved.

WHERE ARE MOST OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS?

Panama, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are among more than a dozen small, low-tax locations that specialize in handling business services and investments of non-resident companies.

LEGITIMATE USES FOR OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS:

Companies or trusts can be set up in offshore locations for legitimate uses such as business finance, mergers and acquisitions and estate or tax planning, according to the global money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force.

ILLICIT USES OF OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS:

Shell companies and other entities can be misused by terrorists and others involved in international and financial crimes to conceal sources of funds and ownership.  

EFFORTS TO CRACK DOWN ON FINANCIAL HAVENS: 

Financial and legal professionals get training on how to spot potential violations, since in some cases lawyers and bankers are unaware they are handling illicit transactions. 

The EU has stepped up efforts to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

Princess Beatrice, Prince Harry's old friend Tom Inskip and former England Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood are all on the company's books. 

Princess Beatrice is vice president for partnerships and strategy at Afiniti.  

In 2013, Mr Cameron announced plans to secure a major agreement with tax havens suspected of allowing the mega-rich to hide their wealth from the UK taxman, ahead of the 68 summit. 

Mr Cameron used a meeting with 10 British overseas territories and crown dependencies as proof he was cracking down on the 'scourge of tax evasion' which costs Britain billions. 

Mr Cameron made the tax avoidance and evasion a priority of the G8 summit which was held in Northern Ireland.

He had warned overseas territories of the need to 'get our own houses in order'. 

Some of the islands and outposts are widely regarded as offshore tax havens, though they dispute this description and regard their low-tax regimes as vital to their economies.

Shadow Cabinet Officer Rachel Reeves said: 'This is yet another example of the cronyism and sleaze that is engulfing this Conservative Government. 

'It's one rule for them, another for everybody else.

'It's imperative there is a proper investigation into this scandal to end this culture of cash for access.'

She told The Times: 'Once again, David Cameron's deep hypocrisy shines through. 

'The loopholes he created have sown the seeds for a new era of Tory sleaze running rampant under the current government.'  

This comes amid a growing scandal in the wake of the collapse of controversial finance firm Greensill. 

The controversy over the relationship between Government and the private sector follows disclosures that Mr Cameron personally lobbied Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Greensill's behalf and was able to arrange for its founder, Lex Greensill, to have a 'private drink' with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The former Tory party leader has insisted he did not break any rules but acknowledged there are 'lessons to be learned', and that as a former prime minister, any contacts with Government should be through the 'most formal channels'.

The software business, which provides technology for call centres in Pakistan, is based in Bermuda and boasts names on its payroll including Princess Beatrice (pictured with husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi)

After it was revealed that Mr Cameron had texted ministers to get the lender access to huge Covid support loans, details emerged of the access he had given to Lex Greensill when he had been in power including letting him have Downing Street business cards. 

Boris Johnson, who has ordered an inquiry into the Greensill affair led by lawyer Nigel Boardman, said 'we need to understand what's gone on here'.

As well as the Boardman review, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee (PACAC), Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Treasury Committee have all announced probes.

The PAC said it intended to invite Mr Cameron to give evidence during its inquiry.

A spokesman for Mr Cameron has indicated he would respond 'positively' to any request to give evidence to any of the inquiries that are taking place once the terms of reference have been established.  

A spokesman for the former prime minister told The Times: 'David Cameron is the chair of Afiniti's advisory board, working alongside such respected figures as Admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Andrew Knight, chairman of Times Newspapers Holdings. He is not a director and does not sit on the board. He receives no tax benefit or advantage from where the company is located and pays full UK tax on his remuneration.'  

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