The international property empire of the Dukes of Westminster has flatly denied that any family member has benefitted from investments in tax havens abroad.
Responding to revelations in the Paradise Papers, the Grosvenor estate, which owns a significant amount of land in Lancashire as well as much of Belgravia and Mayfair, stressed its policy was always to ‘uphold the highest standards of business practice’.
Among the 13.4m files leaked to the media are papers which appear to show the family of the sixth Duke, who died in the Royal Preston Hospital last August after collapsing at his estate in Abbeystead, pumped dividends worth millions into secretive companies in Bermuda and Panama.
The Duke’s son Hugh Grosvenor became Britain’s youngest billionaire at 26 when he inherited the title and a £9.5bn fortune.
But thanks to careful planning by his predecessors, he inherited the sprawling Grosvenor Group without having to pay the 40 per cent death duties imposed on most British taxpayers.
A Grosvenor spokesman said: “Two small overseas trusts were established over 50 years ago, when it was accepted common practice to facilitate the acquisitions of some non-UK assets.
“No family member has received any benefit derived from these but, as UK residents, if they ever did then they would be fully liable to tax in this country.”
Among the Grosvenor Estate is extensive lands and holdings in Lancashire, including the Forest of Bowland, near Garstang, and Abbeystead.