UK Prime Minister David Cameron has published his tax returns to ease criticism following the "Panama Papers" data leak. German politicians have called on Cameron to "immediately" do more to tackle tax evasion and fraud.
Following demonstrations and calls for his resignation, British Prime Minister David Cameron publically disclosed his tax records from the past seven years on Sunday.
Cameron admitted it had "not been a great week," after making four different statements over four days about his investment in his late father's offshore Bahamian investment fund, Blairmore Holdings. Mossack Fonesca, the law firm at the heart of the "Panama Papers" scandal, helped set up the trust.
"I could have handled this better. I know there are lessons to learn, and I will learn them. And don't blame No. 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers. Blame me," he told a meeting of Conservative Party activists on Saturday.
The three-page summary of Cameron's earnings and tax payments shows that he made 9,501 pounds (approx. 11,177 euros, $15,297 at the time) in profits from selling his stake in Blairmore in 2010, shortly before becoming prime minister. Cameron's wife also recorded an equal share of the profit, which allowed both to avoid paying taxes on the gain.
Despite Cameron's unorthodox attempt at transparency - the first of its kind for a British leader - British newspapers found further weak points in his financial disclosures. The "Mail on Sunday" noted that the prime minister avoided paying 70,000 pounds in capital gains tax by taking multiple cash payments of his inheritance over a two-year period, rather than all at once.
British tax evasion 'task force'
The prime minister also announced a plan on Sunday to create a tax "task force," jointly led by Britain's tax authority and National Crime Agency to investigate money laundering and tax evasion.
"The UK has been at the forefront of international action to tackle the global scourge of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, and international corruption more broadly," Cameron said in a statement.
"There is clearly further to go and this task force will bring the best of British expertise to deal with any wrongdoing relating to the Panama Papers," his statement said.
"If David Cameron still wants to be taken seriously personally and politically in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, Britain needs to close the loopholes in its own country immediately," Carsten Schneider, a budget expert for the Social Democrat party, told German newspaper "Welt am Sonntag."
The "Panama Papers" revealed that over half of the 200,000 offshore companies set up by Mossack Fonesca were registered in the British Virgin Islands, where ownership details are not required to be filed with authorities.
"We'll only be convincing on the international stage if we are, first of all, fully compliant in the EU, and for me, that includes Britain exerting influence over its overseas territories - we need to make that clear to the Brits in upcoming talks," senior Christian Democrats politician Ralph Brinkhaus also told "Welt."
rs/ (AP, AFP, Reuters)