Australia PM's 'tax haven' investments under microscope

SYDNEY - Australia's multi-millionaire Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denied Wednesday dodging tax by using havens in the Cayman Islands as his personal wealth came under the microscope in parliament.

Turnbull, a former investment banker who lives in a luxury mansion in Sydney's waterfront Point Piper, ousted Tony Abbott as Liberal leader and prime minister last month.

The Australian Financial Review said an inspection of his declared interests revealed a diverse portfolio conservatively worth about Aus$200 million (US$145 million), spread across investment classes in Australia and the world over.

The Labor opposition used parliamentary privilege to accuse him of inappropriate investments, while acknowledging they were legal.

"There is a house in the Cayman Islands, a house where Malcolm Turnbull's money resides," said Labor senator Sam Dastyari who listed several investments, publicly declared by Turnbull, linked to the tax haven.

He claimed it was not right for a prime minister to have investments registered in such a place, whether they were legal or not.

"There is one reason people invest in the Cayman Islands - so they don't have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. This isn't fair and it's not right," he said.

Turnbull, who entered politics in 2004, issued a statement saying all of his investments were approved by the ministerial code of conduct.

"In order to avoid conflicts of interest almost all of my financial investments are in overseas managed funds which means that I have no say in which companies they invest in," he said.

"Thousands of managed funds with investors outside of the USA are registered in the Cayman Islands with the result that the income of the fund is taxed in the hands of the investors in their own home jurisdictions.

"So all of my income from my investments including funds registered in the Cayman Islands is taxed in Australia." Dastyari has been leading a push for major reforms to stop multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance.