British Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his financial policies in the wake of the Panama Papers. He cast himself as a reformer even as the wealth divide in the UK has grown under his watch.
Cameron defended his finances after a leak revealed that he had inherited an offshore fund set up by his father. The prime minister said his father had set up the offshore fund three decades ago "because it was going to be trading predominantly in dollar securities" and not merely to shirk his fiscal responsibility to Britain.
"Tax evasion is illegal," Cameron said, "and tax avoidance, if the government disapproves of it, should be legislated against."
A data breach at the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca put more than 11 million documents in the hands of international media, implicating tax dodgers from Reykjavik to Riyadh. The Panama Papers revealed that Cameron's father, Ian, had contracted the law firm.
Cameron had initially called his father's registration of Blairmore Holdings in the Panamanian tax haven "a private matter." No one has accused Cameron of illegal activities, but the Panama Papers have called attention to the two-tiered Britain he rules even as he pushes his "one nation" austerity and privatization program.
On Sunday, Cameron became the first British prime minister to release tax records, offering documents dating to 2009: For 2014-15, he paid 75,898 pounds (about 94,700 euros; $110,000) on an income of 200,307 pounds. Finance Minister George Osborne released his tax returns Monday. He paid 72,210 pounds on an income of 198,738 pounds.
Cameron said he sold off most of his assets upon becoming prime minister in 2010.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Britain had "gone through six years of crushing austerity" since Cameron's Conservatives took office. Corbyn pointed out that services had been cut and fees raised and that British workers who were not able to stash their money in tax havens had shouldered the burden disproportionately.
"People want a government on behalf of those who pay their taxes," Corbyn said on Monday, "not those who dodge their taxes in offshore tax havens."
In 2014-15, Corbyn earned 1,850 pounds beyond his parliamentary salary, according to returns released Monday, most of it as payment for a lecture. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also released her records; she paid 31,000 pounds on 104,000 pounds in income.
Labour MP Dennis Skinner was thrown out of parliament after he called Cameron "Dodgy Dave," a pun that implies evasion and means questionable in British English.
mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)