Tax officials are understood to be investigating whether Lord Cameron declared all taxable services such as flights on a Greensill private jet for non-business trips when he worked for the investment firm, it has been reported.
The Guardian reported that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is said to be looking into whether the new Foreign Secretary paid personal tax liabilities for all trips on his former employer’s plane to get to his Cornish holiday home or his house in Oxfordshire.
Lord Cameron has previously said taxes were “dealt with in the proper way” when he used the private jet “a handful of times” for personal reasons.
House of Lords elevation
His appointment to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet last week came as a massive shock in Westminster and there have been concerns that his speedy elevation to the House of Lords has compromised the vetting process.
Questions have swirled over the Greensill affair, in which he privately lobbied ministers in an attempt to win access for the now-collapsed financial firm to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme.
His comeback to frontline politics has also raised eyebrows because of his past closeness with China.
HMRC officials are examining whether he failed to fully disclose all taxable perks while he worked for Greensill Capital between 2018 and 2021, according to the Guardian.
The newspaper said an offshore trust in Guernsey that is said to have been created by the company to pay him extra benefits is also under scrutiny.
During a grilling by the Treasury select committee in 2021 about his lobbying work for Greensill, Lord Cameron was asked how many times he used a private plane to get to Newquay, close to his holiday home, or any other non-business declarations.
“It was used quite a lot by (company founder) Lex Greensill and senior managers, and sometimes myself on business visits,” he said.
“I did use it a handful of times on other visits, and of course all proper taxes and all those things would be dealt with in the proper way.”
Lord Cameron’s spokesperson has been contacted for comment. They told the Guardian: “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.”
The Liberal Democrats have called for an ethics advisor probe to establish whether the reported scrutiny by HMRC was disclosed when he was appointed as a life peer.
“The Zahawi scandal mark two”
The party branded it “the Zahawi scandal mark two”, referring to the sacking of Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chairman for breaches of the ministerial code including failing to declare his tax affairs were being investigated by HMRC.
Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “Yet again, it appears Sunak has appointed a Cabinet minister being looked into by HMRC.
“The Prime Minister must ask the ethics advisor to investigate these reports as a matter of urgency. Serious questions need answering over whether this reported HMRC scrutiny was disclosed as part of the appointment and vetting process for Cameron’s seat in the Lords, and whether Sunak was aware when he appointed him.
“Far from looking to kick sleaze out of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister seems to have sought to bring even more in from the outside.”
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We cannot comment on identifiable taxpayers.”