Billionaire Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure to reveal details of his financial interests after it emerged he has put his investments into a blind trust.
Opposition parties and transparency groups called on the chancellor to be “completely transparent” about what he put into the trust, including whether any funds are held offshore.
Mr Sunak, who had worked for Goldman Sachs bank and then a hedge fund management company, registered a blind trust in July last year, after he had been appointed chief secretary to the Treasury by Boris Johnson.
He did not have one as a local government minister under Theresa May. No other chancellor has used one since details of ministers’ interests began being published in 2009.
Blind trusts relinquish control of their investments to a third party, but also prevent scrutiny.
Mr Sunak will not know what shares are traded but he would know what he put into the trust when it was created.
Abena Oppong-Asare, the shadow exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “Rishi Sunak needs to be completely transparent with the public about whether any of the funds he invested in a blind trust are held in offshore tax havens. Taxpayers paying their fair share expect nothing less.”
Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “Sunak must own up to how blind this trust actually is. With public trust in this government plummeting, greater transparency in all their dealings is essential.”
The use of blind trusts by ministers has fallen in recent years after coming under scrutiny. Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, is the only other cabinet minister to have one.
Transparency campaigners say one of the problems is that there are no requirements governing the design or operation of these trusts, and ministers do not have to reveal who is overseeing them.
Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, said: “Blind trusts were meant to help manage conflicts of interest but there is always a danger they will be used to hide financial interests from public view. It is essential that the contents of any such trust are made public.”
Duncan Hames, policy director at Transparency International UK, said that without required standards for the design and oversight of trusts, the public were left in the dark.
Tony Blair was heavily criticised by the Conservatives for using a blind trust to fund his office in opposition, and Mrs May came under pressure to reveal what was in hers when she became prime minister.
Click here for a secure way to sign up, you will be supporting independent news. Click the button below.
Disagree with this article? why not write in and you can have your say? email us