Robinson faces fresh calls to quit over offshore trusts

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The Independent Online
Geoffrey Robinson, the Paymaster General, was facing calls for his resignation from Labour backbenchers last night after new revelations about his interests in offshore trusts.

Downing Street is standing by the minister, though, and will today underline its support by giving him a high-profile role in its new Social Exclusion Unit.

The calls for Mr Robinson's resignation came after Sunday newspaper reports suggested that he had links to a series of offshore trusts set up in the tax haven of Bermuda. Last week he was forced to admit that he stood to benefit from the pounds 12 million Orion Trust, based in Guernsey.

Yesterday's reports said that six years ago he had transferred a personal shareholding thought to be worth around pounds 380,000 from a pounds 6.4 million Robinson family firm to the International Trust Company on Bermuda. There were also claims that the Orion Trust bought nearly pounds 3 million of shares in TransTec, the engineering company Mr Robinson founded, after he joined the government in May 1997.

In total, according to The Observer, the Orion Trust had bought pounds 12 million of TransTec shares since September 1996.

Although there has been no suggestion of wrong-doing, Mr Robinson's financial affairs are becoming an increasing embarrassment. Last week he launched the government's Individual Saving Accounts, which limit tax-free savings to pounds 50,000, but was criticised for keeping his own tax to a minimum.

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