LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted Saturday he had mishandled the controversy over his shares in his father’s offshore business interests, which were flushed out by the “Panama Papers” revelations.
Cameron said he would publish his tax returns and shouldered the blame for the row over his financial affairs.
Cameron and his Downing Street office issued four comments regarding the Panama Papers before the premier on Thursday finally admitted he had held shares in his late father’s Bahamas-based offshore investment fund.
“It has not been a great week. I know that I should have handled this better, I could have handled this better,” he told his Conservative Party’s spring forum in London.
“I know there are lessons to learn and I will learn them.
“Don’t blame Number 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers; blame me.”
On Thursday, Cameron admitted he and his wife had held a stake in his father’s Blairmore Holdings scheme. They bought the stake for £12,497 in 1997 and sold it for £31,500, four months before he became prime minister in 2010.
The revelations in the Panama Papers, resulting from what the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca blamed on a computer hack launched from abroad, revealed how the world’s wealthy stashed assets in offshore companies.
Demonstrators were set to gather outside Downing Street later Saturday to call for Cameron’s resignation.
“The facts are these: I bought shares in a unit trust — shares that are like any other sorts of shares and I paid taxes on them in exactly the same way,” Cameron told his party’s gathering.
“I sold those shares. In fact, I sold all the shares that I owned, on becoming prime minister.
“And later on I will be publishing the information that goes into my tax return, not just for this year but the years gone past because I want to be completely open and transparent about these things.
“I will be the first prime minister, the first leader of a major political party, to do that and I think it is the right thing to do.”
– Demonstration in Iceland –
Meanwhile Iceland was gearing up Saturday for a major anti-government rally in a test of the opposition’s ability to mobilise support following the Panama Papers scandal revelations that toppled the premier.
The demonstration, beginning at 1400 GMT, follows five consecutive days of protests sparked by the leak of millions of documents exposing the hidden offshore dealings of political figures and celebrities across the world.
Since Monday, when the Panama Papers story hit front pages around the world, thousands of Icelanders have taken to the streets in a historic show of force with prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, becoming the first political casualty of the revelations.
Hurling eggs and yoghurt at the parliament, protestors demanded his resignation following allegations that he and his wife used an offshore firm to hide million-dollar investments.
The issue is particularly sensitive in Iceland following the 2008 collapse of the nation’s three main banks, which plunged the country into a deep recession and left thousands mired in debt.
In Panama, President Juan Carlos Varela said Friday that France’s decision to put the central American country on its list of tax havens in the wake of the revelations was “wrong”.
“The decision taken by France’s government is a wrong and unnecessary step, even more so given the communication between both heads of state and the fact the world needs multilateral cooperation from all countries to tackle global problems,” he told reporters.
He added that his finance minister, Dulcidio de la Guardia, would travel to Paris on Tuesday to stress that Panama was a country that was “dignified, respectful and open to dialogue”, as well as one committed to greater transparency.
Police on Friday raided the El Salvador offices of Mossack Fonseca, netting “a good amount of computer equipment”, the country’s state prosecutor’s office said on its Twitter account.