Queen Elizabeth’s private estate invested £10m in offshore funds with stakes in Threshers off-licence and BrightHouse, the weekly payment retailer criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families, according to the so-called Paradise Papers leaked documents.
The Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate that funds the Queen, “put about £10m into the Cayman Islands and Bermuda”, reports The Times.
There is no suggestion that the investments were improper, and the Queen voluntarily pays tax on income received from the Duchy.
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However, the leak of the offshore financial documents has made headlines worldwide, as the files provide insight into the tax arrangements of the world’s elite - including the Queen’s offshore portfolio, which has never before been disclosed, The Guardian says. It has also raised questions about “why the Queen had money in there in the first place” and about whether there was enough oversight and management of the Queen’s “onward investments” to ensure they remained ethical, the newspaper adds.
The documents show that the Queen holds investments via funds that have put money into an array of businesses, including UK drinks chain Threshers, which went bust in 2009 owing £17.5m in UK tax, and BrightHouse. Last month, the UK’s financial regulator said BrightHouse had not acted as a “responsible lender” and ordered it to pay a total of £14.8m compensation to some 249,000 customers.
A spokesperson for the Duchy said the BrightHouse holding now equates to £3,208, but did not give a figure on the amount previously held in Threshers, the BBC reports.
The Queen’s money was also invested in “a company that developed fingerprint technologies for mobile phones and made investments in other high-tech and pharmaceutical companies”, says the Irish Independent.
The Guardian, the BBC and more than 90 other media partners worldwide investigated the leak of 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens’ company registries, resulting in today’s revelations.
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