Tony and Cherie Blair did not have to pay £312,000 in stamp duty when buying a £6.45m London townhouse, leaked documents show.
The ex-Labour prime minister and his barrister wife bought the property as an office for her business in 2017 by buying the offshore firm that owned it. Mrs Blair said the sellers had insisted the building was sold in this way but they had brought it under UK control. She said they would be liable to pay capital gains tax if they sell it.
When the property was put up for sale, the ultimate owners were a family with political connections in Bahrain - but both parties say they did not initially know who they were dealing with. Mrs Blair said her husband’s only involvement in the transaction was that the mortgage for the property used their joint income and capital.
The revelation is contained in the Pandora Papers, a leak detailing the work of companies offering offshore financial services in the British Virgin Islands, Singapore, Panama, Belize, Switzerland and other countries.
BBC Panorama in a joint investigation with the Guardian and other media partners have had access to nearly 12 million documents and files.
Since leaving Downing Street in 2007, the Blairs have built up a significant property portfolio. Altogether they are reported to have spent more than £30,000,000 on 38 residential properties before they bought the office.
Documents show how the way the property in Harcourt Street, Marylebone, was acquired in July 2017 saved the Blairs a bill for stamp duty.
The four-floor building is now home to Mrs Blair’s legal advisory firm, Omnia Strategy, and her foundation for women.
No laws were broken in buying the Harcourt Street office but Mr Blair had previously been critical of tax loopholes, once saying “the tax system is a haven of scams, perks, City deals and profits”.
In his first speech as Labour leader in 1994, Mr Blair said:
“Millionaires with the right accountant pay nothing while pensioners pay VAT on fuel. Offshore trusts get tax relief while homeowners pay VAT on insurance premiums. We will create a tax system that is fair which is related to ability to pay.”
What a thoroughly disreputable and unlikeable pair of charmless nerks …
Is anyone remotely surprised about what the Pandora Papers are exposing if so where you born yesterday.
Corruption is rife throughout the world nowadays, politicians wring their hands, wag their fingers, make speeches promising change whilst setting up their offshore bank accounts and companies.
Love the BBC’s holier than though attitude in their reporting, a company not adverse to a bit of corruption themselves when it came to paying their high earners.
This is the same man who at a conference speech castigated those people who used offshore accounts and bank accounts and vowed to do something about it which of course he didn’t being as corrupt as the rest of them.
He and his wife have turned tax avoidance and particularly stamp duty an art form involving his children.
But hey let us not criticise him.
Be honest. If you were in the same position and knew you could get away with it are you telling me you would not do the same? They are not the only ones, there are thousands out there who have done the same but because their names are not well known they get no publicity.
That is true and even though some attempt has been made to show “our” dissatisfaction as in the last general election it is unlikely that this is going to change because, to put it bluntly, there is no real alternative other than to keep voting the way “we” do.
Until there is a genuine alternative things will stay pretty much the same.
Given they are all at it the expenses scandal proved that then it really does not matter who you vote for one party is as dirty as another. And don’t get me started on the big unions where corruption is endemic.