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The Queen's Offshore Investments Spark Controversy in Britain

08 November 2017

BrightHouse is the trading name for Caversham Finance and is owned by private equity company Vision Capital, which according to the Paradise Papers - a leaked cache of 13.4 million documents from a bank in Bermuda - had been backed by the Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP, in which the Duchy of Lancaster, the private estate of the Queen, had reportedly invested £5.73 million in 2005.

Suddeutsche Zeitung also alleged that Dover Street further invested in a subsidiary company called Vision Capital Partners VI B LP to buy into two United Kingdom retail chains, one of which was BrightHouse.

A spokesperson for the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds".

The Duchy added that the Queen, who is officially exempt from United Kingdom tax laws, "voluntarily pays tax" on income she receives from the estate.

That isn't illegal. But the specific revelations in this case demonstrate the potential pitfalls of holding offshore investments in tax-free jurisdictions and raise questions about where the money can end up. She is also the legal owner of numerous swans on the River Thames.

The world's top financial institutions are still recovering from the March 2015 release of the Panama Papers data leak, which revealed Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as well as a "dirty dozen" list of world leaders, who were using offshore tax havens to hide their wealth.

"We all have the responsibility to pay for it".

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He is an investigative reporter at Germany's leading newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Graham Smith, the CEO of Republic, said: "The Queen's personal wealth and investments mean she has a direct interest in government decisions about tax".

The Duchy said in a statement that the investment in BrightHouse was made "through a third party", and equates to just 0.0006% of the Duchy's value.

The documents show the Duchy also invested five million pounds ($8.6 million Cdn in today's dollars) in the Jubilee Absolute Return Fund limited, a hedge fund based in Bermuda, and later moved to Guernsey. The queen does not personally manage the portfolio and voluntarily pays taxes on income she earns from the estate. "All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate", it said.

The Queen doesn't directly oversee the Duchy's investments, and most of its income, while private, goes toward covering the expenses for her and other royals that aren't covered by public funds through the sovereign grant.

Her use of offshore tax havens is likely to generate criticism from activists seeking to abolish the monarchy in favor of a republic.

The Queen's Offshore Investments Spark Controversy in Britain