Prince Charles has millions in off-shore tax havens: Royal is latest to be dragged into Paradise Papers cash scandal
It is claimed the royal campaigned to change two climate change agreements even though he could benefit from rule change
Andrew Gregory Political Editor 23:27, 7 NOV 2017
Prince Charles has become embroiled in the tax scandal as leaked documents revealed he has millions of pounds stashed offshore.
And the royal was tonight accused of a “serious conflict” of interest over a secret investment he made in a Bermuda-registered firm run by a pal.
It came to light in the Paradise Papers, which also showed MPs have millions of pounds offshore.
And it followed claims that £10million of the Queen’s own fortune was invested in a tax haven . There is no suggestion those involved acted illegally.
The Prince of Wales faced accusations that he campaigned to change two climate change agreements while his private estate had an offshore interest that would benefit from the rule change.
The Paradise Papers show that in 2007 the Duchy of Cornwall, which provides Charles with an income and which he is said to be “actively involved” in running, bought shares worth £58,000 in Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd. He was a close friend of Hugh van Cutsem, a millionaire banker, the firm’s director.
SFM traded in carbon credits, a market created by international treaties to tackle global warming. It was hampered by the two agreements.
Mr Van Cutsem had lobbying documents sent to the prince’s office. Charles later made a speech criticising the agreements. In 2008, the Duchy sold its stake in SFM, which almost tripled in value. Despite Charles’ campaign, the environmental agreements were not changed. SFM is no longer in existence, and Mr Van Cutsem died in 2013.
The Duchy of Cornwall said the prince has no direct involvement in its investments. Clarence House said Charles had “never chosen to speak out on a topic simply because of a company that it may have invested in”.
But Sir Alistair Graham, ex-chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “There’s a conflict of interest between his own investments of the Duchy of Cornwall and what he’s trying to achieve publicly. I think it’s unfortunate somebody of his importance, of his influence, becomes involved in such a serious conflict.”
The 13.4 million leaked papers, held by law firm Appleby, show the Duchy also made investments worth £3million in the Cayman Islands in 2007. This is legal, there is no suggestion of tax avoidance. It came as Duchy of Lancaster chairman, Sir Mark Hudson was knighted by the Queen days after it emerged the Duchy invested about £10million of the £500million estate offshore.
He joined the Duchy Council in 2006, a year after an initial £5.7million investment was made in a Cayman Islands-based fund.
The papers also show the late Duke of Westminster’s estimated £9.35billion Grosvenor Estate has included offshore holdings. There is no suggestion rules were broken. A spokesman said: “No family member has received any benefit derived from these but if they ever did, they’d be fully liable to tax [here].”
And it emerged the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund, worth £621million last March, has £6.6million invested in Jersey-based BlackRock UK Property Fund and another £6million in firms accused of tax avoidance.
The 2015/16 annual report lists Google, Apple and Amazon among its 20 biggest individual shareholdings.
A Commons spokesman said: “Some funds are domiciled offshore to enable investors from different countries to invest in the same fund, and also to prevent double taxation.”
Dame Margaret Hodge blasted a scheme Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton used to avoid paying VAT on a jet and said he should not be knighted. She added: “[He] should hold his head in shame at his contrived refusal to pay the British taxes he should.”