Crown estate bought Ł67m London property from family of Azerbaijan ruler | The Guardian |
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."
Robert Palmer from campaign group Tax Justice UK told Panorama: "It partly doesn't look great because most people cannot do the same thing... even if what the Blairs did was perfectly legal, perfectly legitimate in the business world ...
Andrej Babi has campaigned on an anti-graft platform. Now, investigace.cz and OCCRP have found that he secretively loaned millions of euros between opaque offshore vehicles as he acquired luxury French real estate, including the purchase of a chateau.
Known as a populist who rails against elites and the establishment, the billionaire politician has advertised himself as a business manager eager to fix the country's economy, and to increase government transparency and tax revenues. And he has dismissed allegations that he himself has been involved in fraud and tax evasion.
Now a leak of confidential documents shows that the self-styled man of the people has been involved in the kind of sleight-of-hand financial dealings that he accuses other members of the elites of engaging in. Records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveal that Babis moved $22 million through offshore companies to buy a lavish estate on the French Riviera in 2009 while keeping his ownership secret.
The five-bedroom Chateau Bigaud, with its 9.4 acres, is nestled between medieval ruins and lush forests. It is a hidden gem of Mougins, the hilltop village where Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life. As of January, public records showed that the chateau belonged to a subsidiary of one of the Czech companies indirectly owned by Babis.
At the time Babis acquired the property, the Czech press was beginning to report that his giant conglomerate was the secret owner of a luxury resort south of Prague that may have improperly obtained millions of dollars in European Union subsidies intended for small businesses. EU authorities would later find "irregularities" in the way Babis' company had obtained the funds.
The need to combat corruption in Ukraine was high on the agenda when US President Joe Biden hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on September 1. (REUTERS)
From the diaries ...