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The Blairs saved £312,000 by not paying stamp duty on a London property after buying a company in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Pandora Papers leak. Following the release of the news, political commentator and Brexiteer Darren Grimes hit out at the Blairs. He said on Twitter: “Rules for thee, but not for me.”
His tweet was accompanied with a picture of Mr Blair claiming Britons will need to pay more tax in order to pay off the money borrowed to soften the blow of the pandemic.
Following his comment, some took to Twitter to criticise the former Prime Minister for saving money in property tax.
Stephen Baseby said: “As it ever was for Blair/Brown.
“Best comedy act since Morecambe and Wise but the jokes went over our heads for years.”
Steve P added: “Another example of Blair’s socialism, sacrificed principles for personal benefit both power and it also seems wealth. [sic]”
Ken Roberts said: “Like every politician before him, Tony Blair is looking out for Tony Blair.”
According to the papers, reported by The Guardian, the former Prime Minister and his wife became the owners of a £6.5million office building by acquiring a British Virgin Islands (BVI) company.
The company was controlled by the family of HE Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
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Mr Alzayani was 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 sold to the Blairs on the list.
The tax was saved as the Blair’s purchased the property’s holding company but not the building directly, thus they were not required to pay the tax.
Although there is nothing illegal about the transaction, it highlights a loophole which means property owners do not need to pay tax on property buys.
While the pair were criticised by some on social media, Ms Blair said there was nothing unusual about what they did.
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She also insisted all taxes have been paid in accordance with the law.
She said: “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.”
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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.
“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.
“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.”
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