British prime minister says he bungled admission of investment revealed in ‘Panama Papers’

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Conservative Party's spring forum in London on April 9, 2016.

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Conservative Party’s spring forum in London on April 9, 2016.

(John Stillwell / Associated Press)

British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted Saturday that he bungled his admission of his investment in an offshore fund revealed in the mammoth data breach of a Panama law firm.

Cameron drew laughs and applause from a sympathetic audience of Conservative Party activists as he opened his speech with a mea culpa.

“Well, it has not been a great week,” he deadpanned. “I could have handled this better. I know there are lessons to learn, and I will learn them. And don’t blame No. 10 Downing Street or nameless advisors. Blame me.”

FULL COVERAGE: Panama Papers document leak >>

It was Cameron’s first public appearance since his admission Thursday night that he had owned shares in a Bahamas-based trust from 1997 to 2010. He had sidestepped persistent questions on the issue for four days with a string of obfuscating statements issued through aides.


Cameron faces mounting pressure from opposition lawmakers to reveal the full extent of his past investment in offshore investments, particularly those run by his late father, Ian, a millionaire stockbroker who placed much off his savings in trusts based in island tax havens. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and others say they will press Cameron on the issue when Parliament reconvenes Monday.

The British prime minister is one of scores of political leaders, celebrities and sports stars who have been linked to shell companies and investment trusts organized by the Panama City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in registering offshore companies. Cameron has made the closure of global tax loopholes a focal point of his government — and rejected charges of hypocrisy on the issue.

“This government that I lead will go on very clearly, very doggedly, very determinedly making sure that we crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance,” he said.

Last weekend’s leak of 11.5 million documents from four decades of Mossack Fonseca files identified Ian Cameron as a client.

The prime minister admitted in a Thursday television interview that he owned shares in his father’s Bahama trust from 1997 to 2010, but sold that stake, realizing a $30,500) profit, along with all his other unspecified shareholdings shortly before becoming taking office that year. Ian Cameron died shortly after his son became prime minister.

In Saturday’s speech, Cameron reiterated plans to make public his recent tax returns to show that he paid all legally due taxes on the Bahamas-based investment. He has declined to answer questions on whether he made other offshore investments.

Labour lawmakers already have demanded he publish details of all his investment holdings since he became Conservative leader in 2005.


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