Top ten firm distances itself from Blairmore Holdings connection

TOP TEN accountancy firm Smith & Williamson has said it has “no involvement or control” over where and when Blairmore Holdings, one of the offshore funds thrown into the spotlight since the release of the Panama Papers, was set up.

The leaked documents show the fund used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to apparently pay no UK tax.

According to the Financial Times, Blairmore issued an investment prospectus in 2006 making clear that the fund would not be subject to UK tax on its profits. It said: “The directors intend that the affairs of the fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the UK for UK taxation purposes.”

Originally launched in 1982 as Blairmore Inc in Panama, it was founded by David Cameron’s late father Ian Cameron and has now come under scrutiny following the Panama Papers scandal – one of the biggest data leaks in history.

According to Smith & Williamson’s website, it employs staff that have managed the Smith & Williamson Blairmore Global Equity Fund since 1997. Nick Peppiatt and Patrick Smiley, two external fund managers from Smith & Williamson, are currently in charge of the fund.

The Financial Times reports that Peppiatt, who has managed the fund since 1997, was a colleague of Ian Cameron at corporate advisory stockbroker Panmure Gordon. In 2001 Peppiatt moved to NCL, which was then purchased by Smith & Williamson in 2003. Smiley joined Smith & Williamson in 2006 and soon joined the fund as co-manager.

‘No involvement or control’

A source close to Smith & Williamson told Accountancy Age that the firm only “made the decision about what equities the fund buys – they have no involvement or control over where the fund [Blairmore] was set up and how it was set up.”

The source told Accountancy Age that they “did not think” that Smith & Williamson knew about Blairmore’s connection with Mossack Fonseca before the revelations in the Panama Papers.

At the end of 2014, the Blairmore fund merged with another small equity fund run by Smith & Williamson as both investment vehicles were relatively small in size.

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