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Panama Papers: British leaders release tax records; Canada news agency refuses gov't request

By Doug G. Ware
Panama Papers: British leaders release tax records; Canada news agency refuses gov't request
Britain's House of Commons held a nearly 90-minute debate Monday on the fallout from the Panama Papers, which has prompted several of the government's leaders to release financial and tax records to accommodate calls for transparency. File Photo by Freedom100m/Shutterstock

LONDON, April 11 (UPI) -- A lengthy debate in Great Britain's House of Commons on Monday illustrated further the deep impact the Panama Papers are having on London's leadership, even after its prime minister and other top government officials continue to reveal their financial records in efforts for transparency.

The debate lasted for nearly 90 minutes Monday and featured vigorous exchanges involving the fallout from the papers' release -- which includes Prime Minister David Cameron's admission last week that he sold off a stake in an offshore account before his election to the leadership post six years ago.

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Cameron's revelations prompted other top British officials to follow suit -- including London Mayor Boris Johnson and, to some extent, Treasury chief George Osborne.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon have also published some of their recent financial records.

RELATED Cameron's tax returns reveal tax-free gifts from family

RELATED Cameron's tax returns reveal tax-free gifts from family

Governments and citizens around the world have expressed concern and a desire for transparency over the past week since the release of the Panama Papers -- which effectively blew the whistle on numerous celebrities and government officials who have taken advantage of tax shelters offshore.

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Icelandic Prime Minister David Gunnlaugsson resigned last week, just days after the papers were leaked to various news outlets. Some in Britain's government have similarly called for Cameron's resignation, upon his admission last week that he benefited from an offshore trust set up by his late father -- which he sold prior to his ascension to prime minister in 2010.

Elsewhere, thousands of people gathered in Malta Sunday to protest the inclusion of health and energy minister Konrad Mizzi in the papers, and what some believe is a failure by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to hold him accountable.

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Muscat, though, has said he feels a responsibility to wait for the outcome of an investigation before making any major decisions.

Canadian Standoff

RELATED Six things a tax haven expert learned from the Panama Papers

Tension over the release of the Panama Papers has led to what could become a legal battle in Canada, where a news outlet refused to disclose financial data from the papers to the Canada Revenue Agency, out of privacy concerns for its sources.

RELATED Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca law firm raided by El Salvador police

The agency's commissioner requested the fiscal data last week from the president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC was among a select number of news agencies to receive the Panama Papers.

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"Simply stated, CBC News does not reveal its sources and we're not about to start now as a result of this request," news agency spokesman Chuck Thompson said.

The news outlet said it refused a similar request in 2013, and will do so again. The CRA said, however, that it is not asking the CBC to reveal names of sources.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which plans to publish parts of the Panama Papers in the coming weeks, noted that other tax agencies in Britain, Italy, Ireland and Latvia have unsuccessfully made similar requests from news outlets there.

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