Thursday, December 6, 2012

Halfon to Campaign for ‘Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill’

gordonToday’s Indy reports on rumours that fuel duty campaigner Rob Halfon will turn to the 10p tax rate for his next trick. Guido can confirm that Halfon will push George Osborne to repeal Gordon Brown’s abolition of the 10p rate, bringing it back for everyone earning under £15,000. The move is inspired by work done by the ASI to produce a living wage through tax cuts rather than wage fixing. Halfon will lobby the treasury to make the move by the 2013 budget, 2014 failing that. A friend of Halfon tells Guido that Gordon’s 10p rate abolition was a “reckless, lunatic thing to do, Robert wants to put that right”. They’re calling it the Great Gordon Brown Repeal Bill…

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Margaret Hodge Worked for PriceWaterhouse

When Margaret Hodge went off on one about the ‘Big 4′ professional services firms this morning, she awkwardly forgot that half the shadow cabinet have employed staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers during the last year. Could there be anything else languishing deep down in Hodge’s memory that she needs reminding of? Something that happened before she became an MP, perhaps? Maybe to do with a past career choice?

Between 1992 and 1994 Hodge worked as a senior consultant for, you guessed it, PriceWaterhouse, as they were known before the 1998 merger with Coopers & Lybrand. Guido would ask what her duties were, but she’d probably just dodge the question…

Hodge the Dodge: Satire is Dead

Question-dodging Margaret Hodge had some nerve asking the PM about tax avoidance today, and when she got her phone out to tweet afterwards the irony knew no bounds:

Never mind the fact that she still hasn’t answered Guido’s repeated questions about her own tax arrangements. Come on Margaret, what was that about failing to answer questions? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Broke Guardian Selling the Rest of the Auto Trader Silver

Somehow Sky beat the Media Guardian to the story in their own backyard – GMG are selling their remaining 50% stake in Auto Trader for up to £600m. Things must be getting really bad…

Of course it was the sale of the first chunk of the car classifieds goldmine that employed the finest tax avoidance techniques known to the Cayman Islands. Guido will be watching this sale closely…

Bring It On Hodge

Margaret Hodge told the Daily Politics that she will be taking action against anyone that points out that her  family firm Stemcor pays very little corporation tax on a billion pound turnover. Yet, she will still not explain the exact nature of her “tiny, tiny, tiny” shareholdings worth several million pounds and the trusts involved. Where is our writ? Where is the letter before action? Guido says: Bring it on.

Video via @LiarPoliticians

All Eyes on Hodge the Dodge

dodge

Margaret Hodge is enjoying her day in the limelight but continuing to dodge Guido’s questions about her own perfectly legal and sensible tax efficiency. The slayer of Starbucks and chief inquisitor at the Public Accounts Committee has been peddling around a Private Eye story that she says exonerates her over the tax avoidance allegations put to her by Tory MP Priti Patel. The Eye claim that one figure used by the Telegraph and Mail was “complete b******s”, but there was more…

Cute as it is of the Eye to fight her battles for her, their whitewash conveniently ignores why Hodge described the valuation of her family business shareholdings as “tiny, tiny, tiny”, and whether or not – as even Polly Toynbee suggests – placing some shares in trust reduces the inheritance tax liability of her children. Guido put those questions to her again last week, but still Hodge is dodging answering. If she called Stemcor to the Public Accounts Committee, as recommended, we would get to the truth once and for all…

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guardian Hosted Seminar Encouraging Tax Avoidance

To mark the Guardian’s ‘Offshore Secrets’ week Guido has been exposing some home truths of their own over the past few days. On Monday GMG’s Cayman Islands company was shown to still be active, while yesterday a special Guidorama investigation revealed that their King’s Place offices are owned by a tax-exempt offshore investment trust. Guido can now reveal that last month the Guardian hosted a seminar in which attendees were openly advised on how they could avoid tax:

“Guardian investing’s seminar will introduce and explain the principles, benefits and risks of investing and help you determine whether you could be making more from your money, with the aim of helping you achieve your financial goals. During the seminar we will also introduce our unique proposition Monitored Informed Investing (MII), discuss what you could do to mitigate Inheritance tax and protect your estate from a potential 40% Inheritance tax bill and look at how you can effectively plan for retirement.”

The seminar, held at the Guardian’s tax efficient offshore-owned York Way offices in October, was organised by Guardian Investing, GMG’s personal finance advice team. This is no third party operation, the Guardian has approved, condoned and even put its name to helping people avoid inheritance tax. Their high-minded journalists wax lyrical about hiding money from the Treasury’s coffers, all the while encouraging tax avoidance on the quiet. There is no end to their hypocrisy…

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guidorama Investigation: Guardian Offices Owned Offshore

Day two of the Guardian’s ongoing Offshore Secrets investigation focused on “who is buying up London: the real identities behind Britain’s secret property deals”. Apparently some 100,000 tax avoiders have been purchasing British properties and offices using offshore companies, hiding their dealings in the UK and reducing their bill to the exchequer. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Guardian’s very own offices were owned by an offshore company? Surely not…

Guido can reveal that 90 King’s Place, the Guardian’s offices in central London, is owned by a tax exempt offshore investment trust managed from Germany:


If and when the trust’s owners ever decide to sell the property, bought for £234 million and now worth considerably more, the owners could sell the trust offshore rather than the property itself and avoid all UK taxes. The trust itself is exempt from corporation tax in Germany. The Treasury will be denied millions of pounds.

It is incredible that the Guardian is paying millions to an offshore trust which is structured in such a way that it pays no corporation tax anywhere in the world. Guidorama tried to contact James Ball, the Guardian investigations journalist at the forefront of the Offshore Secrets series, he said he was too ill to speak to us, the Guardian Media Group’s press office claims that all the press officers are abroad. Caught on camera Patrick Wintour, the paper’s political editor, pleaded ignorance.

The hypocrisy of the Guardian moralising about tax-avoiding offshore owned properties when it is actually based in one is priceless …

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guardian’s Offshore Secrets:
Guardian Media Group Cayman Islands Company Still Active

In 2011 Guido produced a video highlighting Guardian Media Group’s financial hypocrisies, provoking a rambling article from editor Alan Rusbridger and another self-justifying piece in the paper blaming the decision to place hundreds of millions in assets offshore on their investment partners Apax.

Rusbridger argued essentially that it is a tough world for his newspaper so they can’t be pure in their business practices. A transparently self-serving argument. It remains the case that despite the Guardian’s high-mindedness it has tax dodging in its DNA. The original trust structure was set up by CP Scott to avoid inheritance taxes. That was wound up in 2008 to exploit a loophole enabling them to pay zero capital gains tax on £307 million in profits. But they haven’t stopped there.

Guido checked with the Cayman’s company registrar yesterday to see if a certain controversial tax-exempt corporation was still operating. In 2008 The Guardian claimed GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited, a GMG-owned company, would be transferred into their investment partner Apax’s offshore structures, normally when this happens there is a name change. The name is unchanged to this day, strongly suggesting the ownership is unchanged. In the spirit of their Offshore Secrets investigation into tax havens, sham companies and nominee directors, perhaps it is time the Guardian explained why

  • If GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited holds no assets, why have its owners continued to pay registration fees since 2007 so it can remain an active company?
  • If it does hold assets what is the total present value of GMG and associated companies’ assets held via the Cayman Islands or other offshore tax havens?
  • Does GMG Hazel Acquisition 1 Limited have “sham” nominee directors, if so, who are they?

There may well be an innocent explanation, these are the sort of questions they ask of others…

Further reading on the Guardian‘s tax hypocrisy:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Priti Patel Demands “Hodge the Dodge” Calls Stemcor to PAC

Priti Patel has written a strongly worded letter to Margaret Hodge demanding that she calls Stemcor in front of the Public Accounts Committee for a grilling -  as Chair of the PAC she would have to stand aside when Stem or gave evidence to avoid a conflict of interest because of her position as a shareholder with millions tied up in Stemcor. Her family firm has a multi-billion pound turnover yet paid a mere £157,000 in tax. Much like Google, Amazon and Starbucks who have already appeared in front of the PAC…

Letter in full:

Ouch…


Seen Elsewhere

UKIPers Will Come Home in 2015 | Sun
Tories Set for Thrashing | Sun
Boris Announcement Imminent | Sun
The Case for Splitting Up CCHQ | ConservativeHome
Why UKIP Should Join a ‘European Union’. | Anna Raccoon
Dave’s Brush With Bed Bugs | Speccie
Farage: No Briton Could Be My Secretary | BBC
Dave and George Can Now Be Seen Together | Ben Brogan
Life in Public Sector Turned Me Into a Tory | Telegraph
We are a Christian Country Whether Left Like It Or Not | Harry Cole
Tory Candidate Selection Delay | Mark Wallace


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Francis Elliot reports on No. 10 strategy meetings:

“When discussion veers to subjects that Mr Crosby thinks of concern only to the political and journalistic classes, he treats the offender as a pub bore with a tart request to “pass the beer nuts, mate”.”



Alexrod says:

It’s money innit.


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