Conservative Peer Did Not Declare Secret Offshore Investments, Leak Says | UK News

Conservative peer Lord Deighton, the government’s personal protective equipment (PPE) czar at the height of the pandemic, has not disclosed the secret offshore investments that appear in the Pandora papers leak.

Former Commercial Secretary to the Treasury and Managing Director of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), Deighton had said his investments were all in a blind trust.

However, the offshore leak reveals how Deighton and his wife, Alison, invested in a slew of undeclared startups through funds based in the British Virgin Islands and managed by venture capital group Dawn Capital.

The couple’s holdings included a stake acquired directly by Deighton, and four by his wife, in five startups between 2011 and 2013. One investment Deighton had previously hidden from the public was Lady Deighton’s stake in the controversial former lending company. Wonga salary.

Quick guide

What are Pandora papers?


Pandora Journals are the largest trove of leaked data revealing the secrets of tax havens in history. They provide a rare window into the hidden world of offshore finance, shedding light on the financial secrets of some of the richest people in the world. The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which shared access with the Guardian, the BBC and other media outlets around the world. In total, the treasury consists of 11.9 million files disclosed by a total of 14 offshore service providers, totaling 2.94 terabytes of information. This makes it bulkier than the Panama (2016) and Paradise (2017) papers, two previous offshore leaks.

Where do Pandora documents come from?

The ICIJ, a Washington DC-based nonprofit journalism organization, does not identify the source of the leaked documents. To facilitate a global investigation, the ICIJ gave remote access to the documents to journalists from 117 countries, including reporters from the Washington Post, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung, PBS Frontline and the ‘Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In the UK, the survey was carried out by the Guardian and BBC Panorama.

What is an offshore service provider?

The 14 offshore service providers in the leak provide corporate services to individuals or companies looking to do business abroad. Their clients typically seek to quietly set up companies or trusts in poorly regulated tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Panama, the Cook Islands, and the US state of South Dakota. Companies registered abroad can be used to hold assets such as real estate, airplanes, yachts, and equity and equity investments. By holding these assets in an offshore company, it is possible to hide from the rest of the world the identity of the person to whom they actually belong, or of the “beneficial owner”.

Why do people move money overseas?

Usually for tax, secrecy or regulatory reasons. Offshore jurisdictions tend to have no income or corporate taxes, which makes them potentially attractive to wealthy individuals and businesses who do not want to pay taxes in their home country. While morally questionable, this type of tax evasion can be legal. Offshore jurisdictions also tend to be very secretive and publish little or no information about the companies or trusts incorporated there. This can make them useful to criminals, such as tax evaders or money launderers, who need to hide money from tax or law enforcement authorities. It is also true that inhabitants of corrupt or unstable countries may use offshore vendors to put their assets out of the reach of repressive governments or criminal adversaries who may attempt to seize them, or seek to circumvent hard currency restrictions. . Others may go abroad for inheritance or estate planning reasons.

Did everyone named in Pandora logs do something wrong?

No. Moving money abroad is not illegal in itself, and there are legitimate reasons some people do. Not all of those named in Pandora Diaries are suspected of wrongdoing. Those who are can be accused of a wide range of misconduct: from morally questionable to potentially criminal. The Guardian only publishes stories based on leaked documents after considering the public interest. This is a broad concept which may include improving transparency by revealing the secret offshore owners of UK property, even when those owners have done nothing wrong. Other articles could shed light on issues of important public debate, raise moral questions, shed light on how the offshore industry works, or help educate voters about politicians or donors in the interests of accountability. democratic.

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Their previously secret holdings may come to light as Dawn Capital’s investment records are part of Pandora’s documents. Deighton, who served as Treasurer between 2013 and 2015, did not declare any holdings in the House of Lords register at the time – while his separate ministerial statement simply stated that his financial interests were held in a ” blind trust ”.

A blind trust is a way to hold investments so that the owner has no involvement in investment decisions. This entry, however, appears to have been incorrect.

Lord O’Neill, who was Deighton’s immediate successor in the role of Treasury, had similar investments with Dawn Capital. He told the Guardian that on becoming a minister, the Cabinet Office advised him to set up a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. Pandora Diaries confirm that O’Neill made this decision.

Lord O’Neill is holding a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York in 2016 on antimicrobial resistance diseases and the threats they pose to global health. Photograph: Pacific Press Media Production Corp./Alamy

However, the same share records suggest that Deighton and his wife retained direct control of offshore holdings, contradicting disclosures of financial interests he made as minister. Wonga would have been the most embarrassing of these holdings at the time.

The company not only turned out to be a bad financial investment, but was also accused, along with its rivals, of attempting to start multi-million pound businesses by preying on financially vulnerable people.

In 2014, while Lady Deighton was a shareholder and her husband Minister of the Treasury, Wonga agreed to pay over £ 2.6million in compensation to approximately 45,000 clients for unfair and deceptive debt collection practices, to following an agreement with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA is the UK’s financial regulator, which is accountable to the Treasury and Parliament.

In 2015, Wonga and other payday lenders were the subject of an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which recommended further examination of the industry.

Deighton did not respond to 15 separate attempts by the Guardian to contact him for comment.

O’Neill said, “If it’s [Wonga] that you found such an exciting part of the story, it was a bad mistake in judgment and I was glad that it fell apart.

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The ministerial code states: “Ministers must provide their permanent secretary with a complete written list of all interests that could give rise to a conflict. The list should also cover the interests of the minister’s spouse or partner and close family that could be considered as potentially conflicting.

He adds: “Ministers must scrupulously avoid any risk of real or perceived conflict of interest between their ministerial position and their private financial interests. They should be guided by the general principle that they should either dispose of the interest that gave rise to the conflict or take alternative measures to prevent it. In making their decision, they must be guided by the advice given to them by their permanent secretary and the independent advisor on the interests of ministers.

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