Jersey could play a part in the UK General Election after it emerged that Prime Minister David Cameron’s late father had assets in the Island when he died.
With just days to go before the election on Thursday, rival parties and newspapers have pounced on the story to criticise the Conservative leader, particularly as he has previously called for a crackdown on “tax avoidance."
An investigation by Channel 4 News - which featured an interview with Hanson Renouf partner Advocate Mark Renouf on the Jersey tax and estate system - revealed the story last night, recording that a Grant of Probate was filed in the Royal Court when the Prime Minister’s father died in 2011. That would only happen if he had assets in Jersey worth more than £10,000.
It has previously been reported that Mr Cameron’s late father – a stockbroker – helped to manage funds in Jersey. One of those funds was the Close International Equity Growth Fund, in which he held 6,000 shares - the fund was worth an estimated £23 million in 2009.
A statement from the Prime Minister to Channel 4 News said that he did not discuss his father’s will with him, and that he did not know what was in it.
It added: “He does not have any offshore assets, accounts or private shareholdings of any description.”
It also said that the government had done more to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion than the previous Labour administration, delivering £7 billion in annual savings.
Advocate Renouf, the head of Hanson Renouf's Wills and Probate department, said that Channel 4 News had been working on the story for some time.
He said: "The Channel 4 report has hit the national press including the Daily Mail and the Independent today.
"Channel 4 approached us as a leading Jersey law firm on Tuesday night to confirm the meaning of Ian Cameron’s grant of probate in Jersey, which was a straightforward 'fast track' registration of his English will.
"They told me that they have been working on this story for a while because Ian used to be valued in the Sunday Times Rich list at £10m, was a very senior stockbroker for 30-40 years, and Chairman of one or two local investment funds. They had written to the Jersey Public Registry themselves and obtained a copy of the grant of probate which is of course a public register.”
In March, the Conservative-Liberal coalition government called on Jersey to “open the books” – saying that the Island should create a public register of company ownership that says who really owns what, to tackle “the urgent challenges of illicit finance and tax evasion."
Jersey already has a registry of beneficial ownership but it’s a private document that’s only available to regulators, tax authorities and law enforcement.
The pressure from the UK is to open that registry to public scrutiny – something that they say they’re planning to do themselves.
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