Former British PM Tony Blair failed to pay taxes on £5 million London property
The Pandora Papers revealing the inner workings of the rich and powerful has uncovered the financial secrets of over 35 current and former leaders, over 330 politicians, fugitives, fraudsters and murderers.
The Pandora Papers shows that in 2007, after Blair stepped down as the British Prime Minister and became a Middle East diplomat, he bought an offshore company called Romanstone in the British Virgin Islands from the family of Bahrain’s Industry and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid al Zayani. Then in 2017 Blair became the owner of a £5 million pounds property in central London. The building now hosts the legal firm of Mrs Cherie Blair his wife.
By buying the offshore company instead of the building, the Blairs profited from a legal loophole that saved them from paying property taxes worth £400,000. Mrs Cherie has defended her husband claiming the former PM wasn’t involved in the process and they didn’t know the Al Zayanis personally. “What we did was bring the company and building back into the UK tax and regulatory regime.”
She also admits that she “didn’t want to become the owner of a BVI offshore company” and the “seller for their own purposes only wanted to sell the company.” The offshore company is now closed.
The al Zayanis have issued a statement through their lawyer that their firms have complied with all UK tax regulations.
Speaking on the matter of tax avoidance, Robert Palmer executive director of Tax Justice UK said. “There are loopholes that are available to wealthy people but not available to others. Politicians need to fix the tax system so that everybody pays their fair share.”
Sources: PA, ICIJ and Reuters
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