The Queen’s private estate has been revealed to have invested millions of pounds in BrightHouse, the retail chain criticised for exploiting financially vulnerable people.
It has also been revealed that her estate invested in collapsed off-license retailer Threshers.
Amid the release of the “Paradise Papers”, a batch of 13.4 million leaked documents on offshore tax havens, the Queen’s private investment arm the Duchy of Lancaster was found to have invested millions in an offshore portfolio in the Cayman Islands.
The Duchy of Lancaster, an organisation set up to provide the British royal family with an independent source of income, invested £5.7 million in the Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP in the Cayman Islands in 2005.
According to the BBC, two years later the fund’s managers asked the Duchy to contribute $450,000 to projects including the purchase of both BrightHouse and Threshers.
BrightHouse has since come under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority which said last month that it was not a responsible lender, and accused the retailer of overcharging customers and pushing sales on individuals with mental health problems.
In October BrightHouse paid £14.8 million in compensation to nearly quarter of a million customers.
According to analysis by Private Eye, the retailer paid just £6 million in corporation tax between 2007 and 2014 despite reporting operating profits of £191 million.
“The Dover Street investment was bought in 2005 and forms only 0.3 per cent of the total value of the Duchy,” said the Duchy, which added it was unaware of investment in the retailers through its offshore funds.
“The Duchy investment in BrightHouse is through a third party and equates to £3208.
“We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate.
“The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”
The estate’s chief financial officer Chris Adcock told the BBC: “Our investment strategy is based on advice and recommendation from our investment consultants and appropriate asset allocation.
“The Duchy has only invested in highly-regarded private equity funds following a strong recommendation from our investment consultants.”
It was also found to have indirectly contributed funds to the now-collapsed off license retailer Threshers, which went bust in 2009 after owing £17.5 million in UK tax and costing 6000 people their jobs.