David Cameron is being investigated by HMRC tax officials to determine if the former prime minister failed to fully disclose his use of private jets owned by Greensill Capital.
HMRC are also reported to be examining an off-shore trust set up by the collapsed finance firm to pay Cameron “extra benefits”, according to the Guardian.
Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton – as the former PM is now known since being ennobled last week by Rishi Sunak in order to become foreign secretary –earned up to £7 million in salary and shares from Greensill between 2018 and 2021,
Tax officials are understood to be looking into whether Cameron declared all taxable services – including flights on his employer’s private jet for non-business purposes, such as trips to his Cornish holiday home and house in Oxfordshire.
Cameron’s work for Greensill – including lobbying for lucrative government contracts during the pandemic – came under parliamentary scrutiny in 2021. He told a Treasury select committee then that he had used the private jet a “handful of times” for personal reasons but insisted his taxes were “dealt with in the proper way”.
A parliamentary inquiry found Cameron showed a “significant lack in judgement” when working for Greensill. Cameron told MPs at the time that he was paid “far more than what I earned as prime minister”.
The Evening Standard reports that Cameron’s shock return to Westminster in Sunak’s reshuffle and “speedy elevation to the House of Lords has compromised the vetting process” of who is ennobled.
Labour’s Pat McFadden, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is demanding Sunak explains the process leading to Cameron’s accelerated promotion to the cabinet and upper chamber.
In his letter to the PM, McFadden reminds Sunak of his promise to lead a government with “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” and that he should therefore answer the questions surrounding Cameron’s return.
McFadden asks Sunak: “Were you aware of any investigations into or concerns about the foreign secretary’s tax affairs prior to his appointment?”
The letter continues: “His personal company, the Office of David Cameron Ltd, was converted into an unlimited company in April 2020, meaning there are no public filings after 2019 although in his evidence to the Treasury select committee he stated that ‘[he was] paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister.’ And that ‘[he] had shares – not share options but shares in the business – which vested over the period of time of my contract.’
A spokesperson for Sunak said all usual appointments processes were followed when Cameron was made foreign secretary. These include the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HoLAC) which liaises with HMRC and other Whitehall departments to check about any concerns over the appointment, the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Cameron said: “As already made clear in David Cameron’s evidence to the Treasury select committee in May 2021, he did use Greensill’s company plane a number of times on a personal basis, all for short-haul flights, and tax was paid appropriately for any benefit received. Further, all income received from Greensill has been properly declared to HMRC and all tax paid in full.”
A spokesperson for HMRC said: ““We cannot comment on identifiable taxpayers.”