Lady Sharples named in ‘Panama Papers’

  • Governor Sir Richard Sharples and his wife Lady Pamela Sharples, now Baroness Sharples.

    Governor Sir Richard Sharples and his wife Lady Pamela Sharples, now Baroness Sharples.

The widow of assassinated Bermuda Governor Sir Richard Sharples has been named in a leak of confidential bank documents.

The details of Baroness Pamela Sharples’s business dealings were among the “Panama Papers” — 11 million documents leaked from the secretive Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which have sparked international investigations.

While some have alleged the documents show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid taxes, the company itself has defended its reputation, stating that it has never been charged with any criminal wrongdoing.

According to the leaked documents, Lady Sharples became the sole shareholder of Nunswell Investments Limited, a company based in the Bahamas that she used to make investments, in 1995.

She did not deal with Mossack Fronseca directly but instead managed her company through an employee of a British law firm and an accountant from another firm. The documents show that in 2013 they discussed if she should defer a distribution from her account to postpone paying taxes on it, however they do not show if she did so.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the law firm handling Lady Sharples’s affairs said that she became a director of Nunswell in 2000 and that the company was registered in Britain in the same year and now pays taxes to the British government. The group wrote: “The law firm wrote that the House of Lords has been notified of Lady Sharples’s oversight in registering her interest as a director of Nunswell Investments Limited” and that she receives “no remuneration ... nor any income or capital from that company”. “Her son is a director and is a shareholder of the company on behalf of a trust, ‘not on a personal basis’.”

The group also noted there are legitimate uses for offshore companies, foundations and trusts, and that they did not intend to suggest or imply that laws were broken or that those listed acted improperly. Baroness Sharples was given a life peerage in the House of Lords in 1973 after Sir Richard was fatally shot walking through the grounds of Government House. She is one of several British politicians who have been linked to Mossack Fonseca, with Michael Ashcroft and Michael Mates also named in documents.

Other figures named in the leaks include Argentinian president Mauricio Macri, Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and the King of Saudi Arabia.

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