The Queen’s financial advisers have been criticised for bringing the “monarchy into disrepute” after it was revealed she had £10m invested in an offshore tax haven.
The latest leak of the offshore arrangements of many of the world’s richest people, dubbed the Paradise Papers, has revealed the Duchy of Lancaster – which provides the Queen with a private income – holds funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
This money is divested into accounts which are sheltered from UK tax, which then makes investment decisions on their behalf.
The papers reveal the Duchy made a small investment in the controversial rent-to-buy furniture firm BrightHouse, which was ordered to pay back £14.8m to its customers last week after the Financial Conduct Authority said it had not acted as a “responsible leader”.
The Duchy said its holdings in BrightHouse now equate to just over £3,000 and did not control how the fund made decisions about what to invest in, the BBC reported.
There is no suggestion that the Duchy did anything illegal or that the Queen had any knowledge of what her money was being used for.
The sum is just a fraction of her estimated £500m private fortune.
But Labour MP Margaret Hodge, the former chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, said she was “furious” with those who advise the Queen for bringing her “reputation into disrepute”.
She told the BBC: “Monarchy is one of the most trusted, loved and respected institutions in Britain and it symbolises that integrity of Britain in the world and to see it sullied by these sort of activities it outrageous.
“It is so obvious that if you are looking after the money of the monarchy that you’ve got to be to be cleaner than clean and you must never go near the dirty world of tax avoidance or making money in dubious ways.”
But anti-monarchy campaign group Republic said the Queen needed to account for the culture of financial secrecy surrounding the royal family.
CEO Graham Smith said: “The Queen is responsible for her investments, she should have instructed her advisers to ensure her money was invested ethically, and that there was no tax dodging involved.
“The Queen’s personal wealth and investments mean she has a direct interest in government decisions about tax. Yet we have no way of knowing if undue influence has been used by the royal household to protect these investments.
“The Queen now needs to come clean, to set the highest standards of transparency and probity in her financial affairs.
“We need to know where the Queen is making her money and what taxes she is paying. We also need to know if there has been any lobbying of the government regarding tax haven reform.”
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