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Queen’s estate ‘not aware’ it held indirect offshore investment in stores accused of exploiting poor

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As the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth owns swaths of lucrative London real estate and vast tracts of land all over the United Kingdom.

But within a companion financial portfolio, leaked documents show, she’s also held millions in investments offshore, including one with an indirect stake in a rent-to-own company that’s been accused of taking advantage of some of Britain’s poorest citizens.

It is the first time it’s come to light that the Queen — through investments made by the monarch’s private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster — has held stakes in funds that operate in tax-free havens.

One of the funds in question, Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP, invested in a private equity company that had acquired BrightHouse. The British chain of 270 stores sells household goods at low weekly fees but — over the long term — sky-high interest rates. The ultimate result is that customers end up paying many times more than the original price of a household item.

BrightHouse has long countered criticism of this practice by saying it helps people on low incomes acquire items they couldn’t otherwise afford. But just two weeks ago, the British Financial Conduct Authority ruled BrightHouse had not acted as a “responsible lender” and ordered it to pay millions of pounds to thousands of customers.

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