A blind trust is a trust in which the fiduciaries, namely the trustees or those who have been given power of attorney, have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling. Blind trusts are generally used when a settlor (sometimes called a trustor or donor) wishes to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments.
Politicians or others in sensitive positions often place their personal assets (including investment income) into blind trusts, to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest when they direct government funds to the private sector. A blind trust is often used with those who have come across a fortune within a short period of time (e.g. an inheritance, or a multimillion lottery) in order to keep their identity anonymous to the public.
British party funding
In the United Kingdom, while the Labour Party was in opposition in 1992–97, its front bench received funding from blind trusts. One set up to fund its campaign in the 1997 general election received donations from wealthy supporters, some of whose names leaked out, and some of whom received life peerages into the House of Lords after Labour won the election. The Neill Committee's report in 1998 found the use of blind trusts to be "inconsistent with the principles of openness and accountability" and recommended that such trusts be "prohibited as a mechanism for funding political parties, party leaders or their offices, Members of Parliament or parliamentary candidates"  This was incorporated into the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 as section 57 "Return of donations where donor unidentifiable".
- Hencke, David (2007-05-11). "Public standing: A straight sort of guy?". The Guardian.
- Committee on Standards in Public Life (October 1998). The Funding of Political Parties in the United Kingdom (PDF). Fifth Report. Volume 1. Chairman: Lord Neill of Bladen. HMSO. pp. §§4.71–4.72, pp.61–2. Cm 4057–I. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "Return of donations where donor unidentifiable". Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Public Acts 2000. Chapter 41. OPSI. 2000-11-30. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
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