Tax probe: Queen Elizabeth II in trouble

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The Paradise Papers have revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's private estate, secretly invested vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.

A spokesman for the estate said: "We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds".

The documents about Elizabeth's financial holdings are part of a tranche of some 13.4 million records of offshore accounts leaked to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Journalists and a network of more than 380 journalists in 67 countries.

The Duchy stated that it was not involved in the decisions made by the funds, and there is no evidence that the Queen also had any information about the individual investments made on its behalf.

David Pitt Watson, an executive fellow at the London Business School who focuses on responsible investments, said he "very much" doubts that the Queen knew where her money was invested.

The documents also made it possible to establish the Queen, through her Duchy holdings, came to acquire in 2007 an indirect stake in a now-defunct British chain of alcohol stores and that rent-to-own company, called BrightHouse.

The world's top financial institutions are still recovering from the March 2015 release of the Panama Papers data leak, which revealed Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as well as a "dirty dozen" list of world leaders, who were using offshore tax havens to hide their wealth. The Queen is exempt from paying tax, but despite that status, she has paid tax voluntarily on her income since 1993. It said that all its investments were legitimate.

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Just last week, it emerged BrightHouse had agreed to reimburse customers to the value of almost £15m after agreeing a compensation package with the Financial Conduct Authority, following a two-year investigation.

In the most recent fiscal year, the Duchy generated £19.2 million ($25 million) in net income according to its website.

The documents show the Duchy also invested five million pounds ($8.6 million Cdn in today's dollars) in the Jubilee Absolute Return Fund limited, a hedge fund based in Bermuda, and later moved to Guernsey.

Downing Street said Mrs May did not have any direct offshore investments and her assets were held in a blind trust, in line with normal practice for ministers.

Instead, she's like "so many others who have a pension, or an investment account", he said.

But the revelations will no doubt raise questions about whether the monarch should be investing in offshore finance.