Tony and Cherie Blair avoided paying £312 tax by using offshore company – Pandora papers

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The Blairs purchased an office building for £6.5million in 2017 after buying a company in the British Virgin Islands which was controlled by the family of HE Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani, Bahrain’s minister for industry, commerce and tourism.

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Boris set to confront Macron as Farage warns about blockade The deal is detailed in the Pandora papers, a large collection of leaked offshore documents.

They name Mr Alzayani as the shareholder of another offshore firm which has invested more than £60m in UK commercial property over the course of the last nine years – with the Marylebone address which sold to the Blairs on the list, the Guardian reports.

The Blairs were thus able to avoid shelling out on £312,000 in stamp duty because they bought the property’s holding company rather than the building directly.

The transaction was entirely legal and there is no suggestion the Blairs were spefically trying to avoid paying stamp duty.

Tony and Cherie Blair (Image: GETTY)

Cherie Blair said there was nothing unusual about the deal (Image: GETTY) Nevertheless, the deal underlines a loophole which allows wealthy landowners to avoid charges less well-off people generally have to pay.

Executive director of Tax Justice UK Robert Palmer commented: “It is unfair that if you buy a company that owns a property then you don’t have to pay stamp duty.

“These are loopholes that are available to wealthy people but not available to others.

“Politicians need to fix the tax system so that everyone pays their fair share.”

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Tony Blair was Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007 (Image: GETTY) Related articles

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Truss tells Biden NOT BE ALL AND END ALL as UK signs new deals Stamp duty is levied on commercial and residential properties sold at values above £150,000 and £125,000 respectively.

In the UK in July, the average price of a house in the UK was £244,229, according to the Nationwide building society.

Cherie Blair told the Guardian there was “nothing unusual or underhand in any of this”.

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Associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin are also named in the Pandora Papers (Image: GETTY) The Alzayanis had not wanted to sell the building separately from their BVI company, she said, adding: “I did not want to be the owner of a BVI company and so instructed my accountants, BDO, and solicitors, Blake Morgan, to ensure that I could repatriate the company and the building to the UK.

“All the arrangements were made for the express purpose of bringing the company and the building back into the UK tax and regulatory regime, where it has remained ever since.

“All taxes have been paid ever since and all accounts openly filed in accordance with the law.”

A spokesman for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change said: ” The Blairs should not have been dragged into a story about ‘hidden’ secrets of Prime Ministers etc.

Stamp duty is levied on residential and commercial property above a certain value (Image: GETTY) “The Blairs bought the premises mentioned for the legal business and Foundation of Cherie Blair in a normal way through reputable estate agents.

“The transactions are all registered publicly.The vendor was an offshore company.”

They added: “The Blairs had nothing whatever to do with the original company nor those behind it.

“The vendor sold the company not the property – again a decision the Blairs had nothing to with.

Tony Blair celebrates his general election victory in 1997 (Image: GETTY) Trending “For the record, the Blairs pay full tax on all their earnings.

“And have never used offshore schemes either to hide transactions or avoid tax.”

The Pandora Papers, named after Pandora’s Box in Greek mythology, reveal how 35 current and former world leaders – including associates of Vladimir Putin – plus more than 300 public officials have used accounts in tax havens to store wealth and undertake transactions.

More than 650 reporters are examining the files in what is the biggest operation ever organised by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

(More to follow)

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