Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy sits with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in 2013, the same year Cameron intervened in the crackdown. (Photo: Number 10/flickr/cc)

Revealed: David Cameron Intervened in EU Crackdown on Tax Havens

Cameron, who also admitted personal ties to late father's offshore trust, sent letter in 2013 urging European Council to give trusts special treatment

Nadia Prupis

British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013 personally intervened to prevent the UK from being pulled into an EU-wide crackdown on offshore tax havens, according to new reporting.

Cameron—who finally admitted Thursday that he had profited from his late father's offshore trust, which was set up through the firm at the center of the massive Panama Papers leak—in 2013 sent a letter to the then-president of the European Council urging him to treat trusts differently from companies in anti-laundering rules. The Panama Papers revealed that Ian Cameron's trust, Blaimore Holdings, had avoided paying UK taxes for more than 30 years.

The EU had planned to publish a central register of the owners of offshore accounts in an effort to curb tax avoidance when Cameron sent the letter.

"It is clearly important we recognize the important differences between companies and trusts," Cameron wrote to Herman van Rompuy. "This means that the solution for addressing the potential misuse of companies—such as central public registries—may well not be appropriate generally."

Instead, he argued, the EU should allow trust owners to keep their identities secret from the public and reveal them only to global tax authorities in exchange for information.

Cameron's intervention in the crackdown was revealed as he continues to come under scrutiny for his personal stake in the trust, which he sold just before taking office in 2010. In what the Guardian noted was a "specially arranged interview," Cameron on Thursday said he did not know whether the £300,000 he had inherited from his father before his death had benefited from tax haven status.

Asked earlier this week if his family still had a stake in the account, a Downing Street spokesperson responded, "This is a private matter." Cameron's office then released several statements insisting that neither the prime minister nor his family would benefit from offshore accounts in the future.

Those promises rang hollow to the Labour party, which said Thursday that Cameron "completely undermined" his administration's claim to be tough on tax evaders.

"Another day and another story emerges which exposes what the Conservative party really thinks in its heart of hearts about tackling tax avoidance," said Labour's shadow Treasury minister Richard Burgon. "The prime minister can't raise a finger to save our steel industry but at the drop of a hat he can personally intervene to undermine EU efforts to clamp down on tax avoidance."

"When things like this come out from the very top of the Conservative party, it completely undermines anything they have said previously on this major issue," Burgon said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fulton County Subpoenas of Trump Allies Offer Hope 'That Justice Will Ultimately Be Served'

"The coordinated attempts by former President Donald Trump and his associates to discount and ignore the will of Georgian voters during the 2020 election cannot be swept under the rug," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·


Russian Official Makes Nuclear Threat Over US Support for Ukraine War Crimes Probe

Another official responded to Western sanctions by suggesting that Russia could reclaim Alaska.

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Denounced for Imposing New Sanctions as Iran Nuclear Talks Falter

One Middle East expert accused the U.S. administration of "continuing and embracing Trump's max pressure policy, while expecting a different result."

Brett Wilkins ·


Under 'Draconian Abortion Ban,' Woman in El Salvador Sentenced to 50 Years for Pregnancy Loss

Laws like El Salvador's are "now being replicated in states across the U.S.," noted one observer.

Julia Conley ·


Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo