As readers may know, I’m not a politician and when I worked in politics, it wasn’t at the spaddy level where you’re actually listened to. Yet me, a lowly ex-bag carrier responsible for caseloads in an obscure constituency, knows the first rule on resolving a political crisis is to wrap it up as quickly as possible. The longer a story is attracting headlines, the more it becomes a talking point in the broadcast media, and the greater the likelihood you and/or your party will suffer reputation damage.
These basics have proven foreign to our beleaguered PM and his coterie of expensively clueless advisors. The self-inflicted difficulties Dave has faced over Daddy’s offshore doings was excruciating, and has proven to be his most painful week in office. Yes, worse and more damaging than budgetgeddon and their disingenuous hand-wringing about the steel industry. Dave knew his offshore offloading was going to look bad, so he should have dumped it all at the start of the week rather than let political enemies take chunks out of him. Some PR professional he’s turned out to be. Continue reading
Peter Mandelson famously declared himself “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich, as long as they pay their taxes”. His successors now appear intensely relaxed about the wealthy not paying their taxes at all. Senior Blairite John McTernan has responded to last weekend’s Panama Papers revelations by reassuring Telegraph readers that “tax avoidance is an expression of basic British freedoms.”
It also appears to be an expression of the basic Russian oligarch freedom to transfer huge kickbacks out of their country, and the inalienable right of dodgy Middle East politicians to set up shell companies in jurisdictions with banking regulations so light touch that they would make Gordon Brown blush, but let that pass. Continue reading
The Eye has done a remarkable service in exposing the magnitude of offshore ownership of the UK’s historic country houses and of the huge swathes of the British countryside that they control. Using FOI applications and extensive analysis of other data, it has found that since 1999 titles to no less than 97,500 properties covering 490,000 acres have been acquired by companies vested in tax havens. With much land already acquired by offshore companies before that date, it is likely that the total area acquired could be a million acres or more. Continue reading
The more that comes to light about the nefarious activities of the Big four banks, the more extraordinary it is that these banks (a) demand a return to business as usual (which of course caused the financial crash in the first place), (b) continue to fight back against any reforms of a dysfunctional finance sector, feeble though these measures are, (c) show not a scintilla of remorse or apology for the decade of disaster they’ve imposed on ordinary people and the economy as a whole (remember Bob Diamond’s infamous comment “It’s time to move on” as though nothing had happened), and (d) have never been held to account by prosecutions of the chief executives, finance directors and other executives responsible. This is all the more staggering when what has now been revealed is the enormous extent to which all 4 banks not only indulged in, but actively promoted, tax evasion/avoidance on an industrial scale. Barclays has 385 subsidiary companies in tax havens (36% of all its subsidiaries), HSBC has 550, Lloyds has 290, and RBS has 404! Continue reading
Spain’s biggest companies have greatly increased their presence in tax havens, with the number of subsidiaries established in these tax-lite territories up 44% during 2013, the worst year in the country’s economic crisis.
The IBEX35 companies upped the number of branches in tax havens from 561 to 810 during that year, new research finds.
Financial flows to tax havens – from Delaware and Jersey in the US The Netherlands and Ireland, to Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands – account for 24% of total Spanish foreign investment, through a transfer of capital between subsidiaries ( activity that amounts to about a quarter of overseas investments by Spanish companies. ) Continue reading