Panama Papers: David Cameron releases confidential tax records amid uproar
'I could have handled this better,' British PM says at Conservative symposium
British Prime Minister David Cameron has published a summary of his own tax records in an attempt to address questions about his personal finances raised by the mention of his late father in the Panama Papers leak.
The revelation that his father had a secret offshore fund that Cameron profited from has led to demands for the prime minister's resignation and handed ammunition to opposition lawmakers questioning his reluctance to detail his financial connections with his father.
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Cameron took the unorthodox step of releasing his normally confidential personal tax details after acknowledging he should have handled the scrutiny of his family's affairs better.
The documents from RNS Chartered Accountants — which cover six years — show Cameron paid tax of £75,898 ($139,265 Cdn at current exchange rates) on income of £200,307 ($367,545) in the 2014-2015 financial year, the most recent one included.
His income comprised his £140,522 salary, taxable expense benefits of £9,834, £46,899 from half of the share of rent from his family home in London and £3,052 in interest on savings, according to the records.
Cameron drew laughs and applause from a sympathetic Conservative Party audience as he opened a speech Saturday with a mea culpa.
"Well, it has not been a great week," said the British prime minister. "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."
Cameron's appearance at the Conservative Speech Forum was his first since his admission Thursday night that he had owned shares in his father's Bahamas-based trust from 1997 to 2010.
Outside the Conservatives' lavish events venue, dozens of police formed a human barrier as protesters demanded Cameron's ouster. Many protesters waved placards portraying Cameron as an out-of-touch elitist.
Cameron has made the closure of global tax loopholes a focal point of his government, but rejected charges of hypocrisy on the issue.
"This government that I lead will go on very clearly, very doggedly, very determinedly making sure that we crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance," he said.
Cameron faces mounting pressure from opposition lawmakers to reveal the full extent of his past investment in offshore investments, particularly those run by his late father, Ian, a millionaire stockbroker who placed much off his savings in trusts based in island tax havens.
The British prime minister is one of scores of political leaders, celebrities and sports stars who have been linked to shell companies and investment trusts organized by the Panama City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in registering offshore companies.
Cameron admitted that he owned shares in his father's Bahamas trust from 1997 to 2010, but sold that stake for a £19,000 ($34,820) profit along with all his other unspecified shareholdings shortly before becoming prime minister that year. His father died shortly after he gained office.
In Saturday's speech, Cameron reiterated plans to make public his recent tax returns to show that he paid all legally due taxes on that Bahamas-based investment. He has declined to answer questions on whether he made other offshore investments.
With files from Reuters and CBC News