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I could have handled tax row better: Cameron

British Prime Minister, and leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron arrives to attend the Conservative spring forum in central London on April 9, 2016. (AFP photo)

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron says he could have handled “better” the row over his financial affairs following recent revelations about his holding in an offshore fund.

“I could have handled this better. I know there are lessons to learn, and I will learn them,” said Cameron in a speech at the Conservative spring forum in the capital, London, on Saturday

The financial leaks, released on April 3, show how the Panama-based high-profile law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in establishing shell companies, has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions, and evade taxes.

David Cameron’s father, Ian, who passed away in 2010, was exposed in the papers as running a fund under the name of Blairmore Investment Trust, which did not have to pay UK tax on its profits.

On Thursday, Cameron admitted that he was a beneficiary of the Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father, saying he owned shares in his father's Bahama trust from 1997 to 2010.

Cameron added that he sold shares in it worth £30,000, shortly before being elected Prime Minister in 2010.

In his Saturday speech, Cameron said he was to blame for how revelations about his father's offshore investment fund had been dealt with.

“And don't blame No. 10 Downing Street or nameless advisers. Blame me,” he said after days of negative media coverage and calls for his resignation.

“I was obviously very angry about what people were saying about my dad. I loved my dad, I miss him every day.

Demonstrators hold placards during a protest outside Downing Street in Whitehall, central London, on April 9, 2016. © Reuters

Cameron is facing mounting pressure from major political figures to resign after he admitted his part in the Panama Papers scandal.

Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said the prime minister had “misled the public” and “lost the trust of the British people.”

The leaked financial records, dubbed the “Panama Papers,” were released by Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and contain information on 215,000 offshore entities connected to individuals in more than 200 countries and territories.

The leak exposes how the world’s wealthiest and powerful are able to conceal money and avoid tax.

The exposé has so far forced Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson to step down from his post as Iceland’s Prime Minister, after it was revealed that he and his wife had bought an offshore firm in the British Virgin Islands.

The Panamanian company has denied any wrongdoing, saying the firm has fallen victim to “an international campaign against privacy.”

Meanwhile, a protest was being held outside Downing Street, with demonstrators calling on Cameron to either “close tax loopholes or resign.”

The demonstration, during which many waved banners saying "Cameron must go", briefly blocked the street outside the Tory Spring Conference at the Grand Connaught rooms, with delegates advised to remove their identification before leaving.

Protesters say Cameron is no longer fit to run the country as prime minister. They also demand a full scrutiny over the issue. 


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