The storm unleashed by the so-called Panama Papers continued to swirl Thursday as British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted benefiting from his father’s offshore trust and prosecutors opened an inquiry into Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
A host of world leaders, celebrities and sports stars have been caught up in the tempest created by the worldwide media investigation of the 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Cameron, who has been on the defensive over the revelations about the secret financial dealings of the rich and powerful, admitted he held a £30,000 stake in an offshore fund set up by his late father.
He told television channel ITV he sold the stake in the Bahamas-based trust in 2010, four months before he became prime minister.
“We owned 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like £30,000,” Cameron said. The sum is roughly 37,000 euros or $42,000.
“I sold them all in 2010 because if I was going to become prime minister, I didn’t want anyone to say you have other agendas, vested interests.”
He insisted he had paid income tax on the dividends from the sale of the units, which he bought in 1997.
The Panama Papers have felled Iceland’s prime minister and forced other political heavyweights onto the defensive, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and now Macri, the leading symbol of a budding right-wing resurgence in Latin America.
Macri insisted he had made no “malicious omission” from his mandatory asset declarations as a public official, after federal prosecutor Federico Delgado asked a judge to request information from the national tax authority and anti-corruption office to determine whether the president may have committed any financial crimes.
“I am calm. I have obeyed the law. I have nothing to hide,” Macri said in a nationally televised address, vowing to present proof before the court Friday.
The conservative president is listed on the board of directors of two offshore firms – one registered in the Bahamas and the other in Panama.
He did not list either in his financial declarations when he became Buenos Aires mayor in 2007 or president last December.
Macri, who vowed to fight corruption during his presidential campaign, says the firms were legitimate operations set up by his father, a wealthy business magnate.