Queen among UK elite investing in offshore funds

The scale of tax avoidance by the UK’s wealthiest is under the spotlight once again after leaked documents revealed even the Queen holds millions of pounds of assets in offshore funds.

According to an investigation of 13.4 million leaked documents branded the ‘Paradise Papers’, the Queen’s private estate, the £519m Duchy of Lancaster, owns shares in funds which invest in retailer Brighthouse and Threshers.

The Duchy invested £7.5m into the Dover Street VI Cayman Fund in 2005 which later went on to buy shares in Brighthouse, a company that has been accused of taking advantage of poorer customers and branded an irresponsible lender by the Financial Conduct Authority.

£5m of the Queen’s private wealth is also invested in the Jubilee Absolute Return Fund, a fund of hedge funds.

However, the Guardian reports the Duchy claimed to have no idea of the Brighthouse investment and said the Queen received no tax advantages from investing offshore.

Tory donor Lord Ashcroft is also alleged to have sheltered wealth in a previously-unknown $450m offshore fund and a number of US President Donald Trump’s closest advisers have been caught up in the scandal for hiding cash in tax havens around the world.

Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross is the subject of some controversial claims after the leaked documents revealed his business ties with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law via a shipping venture.

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook have been forced to defend themselves against links to Russia, too.

According to documents, Russian money was invested into the two internet companies via DST Global, a firm run by billionaire Yuri Milner, but the Financial Times reports that its shares in Twitter were sold in 2014 and shares in Facebook sold five years ago.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has also been pulled into the scandal after it was revealed his chief fundraiser and senior adviser Stephen Bronfman was responsible for the movements of millions of dollars to offshore funds.

Both the Guardian and the BBC have access to the Paradise Papers which includes details of investments from two service providers across 19 tax havens.

However, there is no suggestion that anyone named in the papers have been involved in any activity that is illegal.

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