Campaign Report: 22 Days to Go

oil rig

Leave message: Government would axe fuel VAT post-Brexit.

Remain message: Lord Sugar says Remain’s better for business.

Cut through: Fuel VAT cut post-Brexit.

Leave social media count: 434,209 likes, 48,062 followers.

Remain social media count: 440,282 likes, 31,838 followers.

Odds: Remain 1/3, Leave 3/1

Latest poll: Remain 44%, Leave 47% (ICM, phone). Poll of Polls is now Remain 52%, Leave 49%.

EU Plots Tax ID Numbers For Every European Citizen

euro stars

The EU is laying the groundwork for new, centrally planned National Insurance-style numbers for every taxpayer in Europe. The proposal was passed by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee last night, and chillingly calls for a ‘European Taxpayer Identification Number’ to keep track of every EU citizen. This is the European Commission text:

“Proper identification of taxpayers is essential to effective exchange of information between tax administrations. The creation of European Taxpayer Identification Number (EU TIN) would provide the best means for this identification. It would allow any third party to quickly, easily and correctly identify and record TINs in cross-border relations and serve as a basis for effective automatic exchange of information between member states tax administrations.”

Brussels wants the ability to track every EU taxpayer, laying the foundations for a new European tax…

The report also calls for the EU to take over member states’ corporate taxation powers with a common corporation tax base, banning sovereign states from increasing their competitiveness by cutting corporation tax below 15%. This is a direct attack on sovereignty and attempt to create a new, centralised EU tax system…

UPDATE: UKIP’s Steven Woolfe says:

“If we stay in the EU, we will be forced to pay a European tax. Plans for an EU taxpayer ID system – effectively a new continental National Insurance number – demonstrates their real ambitions for further integration. They are laying the foundations for an EU tax system.”

Osborne Exempts “Politically Exposed Persons” From Money Laundering Checks

MPs complained earlier this year that they are being hounded “like African despots” following anti-money laundering checks from banks like HSBC. These checks are designed to ensure money isn’t being funnelled into criminal gangs or other corrupt arrangements. Charles Walker was furious that MPs and their families are on the list of “Politically Exposed Persons”, the automatic anti-money laundering watch list used by banks:

“It is ridiculously heavy-handed for banks to treat British MPs and their families in this aggressive way. They should be targeting crooked despots and dictators, not MPs’ grannies.”

Because politicians’ family members would never be involved in anything dodgy…

George Osborne this afternoon accepted an amendment to the Financial Services Bill which will see some Politically Exposed Persons and their families exempted from these anti-money laundering rules. Ministers will now “exclude… specified categories of persons” from the list of so-called PEPs, as Osborne says it is “disproportionate” for banks to include MPs and relatives on the watch list. Mossack Fonseca will be able to whisk MPs and their families through the account opening process…

Eagle Spins Caymans Aide Row

Following Guido’s revelation that the firm run by Labour’s new business tsar was incorporated in the Caymans, the FT’s Jim Pickard has asked Angela Eagle for a comment on her “ethical” business adviser. Eagle replied that Anthony Watson’s company “pays taxes in all the jurisdictions in which it operates”. What is the corporate tax rate in the Cayman Islands? Zero percent. Ian Cameron’s Panama fund paid taxes in all the jurisdictions in which it operated, and Labour said that was morally disgusting…

Labour Business Tsar’s Firm Incorporated in Caymans

The financial services firm run by Labour’s new business tsar was incorporated in the Cayman Islands, Guido can reveal. Anthony Watson is the flamboyant president and chief operating officer of Uphold Inc, an online financial services company headquartered in California. Earlier this year he was appointed by the Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle to chair Labour’s Business and Enterprise Advisory Council. Eagle said at the time: “Both Anthony and I are determined to lay the foundations for a shared capitalism… It’s great that Anthony has agreed to chair this group which will help forge a new vision for a dynamic industrial strategy, because he has the fresh ideas and a proven track record of putting innovation and ethics at the heart of business practices.”. Well, how’s that whole “shared capitalism” and ethics thing working out?

Watson took charge of his financial services company in April 2015, when it went by the name Bitreserve. This is from their website:

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission documents seen by Guido show that Bitreserve’s jurisdiction of incorporation was the Caymans. Its address is a PO box.

What does Angela Eagle think about the ethics of her top business adviser running a company incorporated in the tax-free Caymans? 

MPs Send £1 Million of Expenses Offshore

Over £1 million of taxpayers’ money has been diverted to offshore property companies through the MPs’ expenses system. In 2012-13, 13 MPs were paying rent expenses for properties in the luxury riverside Dolphin Square complex, made famous as the home of coke-snorting Lords (and worse).

Records show MPs including top Corbyn allies Steve Rotheram, Nic Dakin and Shabana Mahmood paid the expenses cash to subsidiaries of Westbrook Dolphin Square Ltd. This is a network of 612 companies which own two flats each in Dolphin Square. All 612 companies are registered in Jersey…

Tory MP Jonathan Evans meanwhile paid rent expenses to Abal Establishment, a property company with offices in London but which is registered in the tax haven of Lichtenstein:

Overall in 2012-13 MPs sent over £230,000 of taxpayer cash to tax-avoiding offshore property companies. Extrapolating these figures means over the course of the last parliament well over £1 million of your money was sent offshore so MPs could live it up in London…

MPs’ Pension Scheme Managed Offshore

Potentially every MP has investments managed offshore through the parliamentary pension scheme. The latest annual accounts of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund disclose that one of the fund’s managers is BlackRock UK Property Fund. A quick look at said fund’s prospectus shows it is domiciled offshore in Jersey:

When Labour MPs condemn Cameron’s father as “absolutely disgusting” for incorporating trusts offshore, remember their own pension scheme is run by fund managers domiciled in Jersey…

Dave Gets His Daily Dose

Another happy reader – Dave shares with the House the news, as revealed by Guido, that the BBC, Mirror Group, and Guardian have all been using offshore investment funds. Sign up to the Guidogram here to get your daily dose too… 

Corbyn’s Thousands in Offshore Income

Corbyn has eventually located his tax return for the last year – the most interesting thing is that he appears to have filed it late. Was he fined?

What isn’t disclosed is that in previous years Jezza made a significant amount of income from offshore sources. In the last few years he declared £5,000 in payments from Press TV, the Iranian state television channel, and another £5,000 from Al-Jazeera, the Doha-based Qatar-backed channel. Not to mention junkets to the Middle East, South America and elsewhere worth tens of thousands paid for by foreign governments. The corporate tax rate in Qatar is just 10%…

UPDATE: Corbyn’s spokesman confirms Jezza was fined £100 for filing his tax return late.

Osborne’s Tax Summary

The Treasury say:

“The dividend income relates to shares in Osborne and Little Group Limited, a UK resident manufacturing company of wallpapers and fabrics that was founded by his father. The dividends are derived from shares that the Chancellor of the Exchequer owns directly, and also as life tenant* of a family trust, based and resident in the UK which holds, as its sole asset, shares in that company. The Chancellor of the Exchequer paid income tax on these dividends.”

Osborne and Little has been hit by its own offshore rowThe PM, Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor have all released summaries of their tax returns – the Leader of the Opposition still can’t find his…

*A life interest trust is a trust established to provide the beneficiary with (who is known as the ‘life tenant’) the right to receive the income (after expenses) from the trust.  This right is usually given for their lifetime.  On their death the trust fund passes to the other named beneficiaries, known as the ‘residuary beneficiaries’.  Basically it protects the family capital and ensures it passes to children rather than, for example, ex-wives… 

BBC’s £84 Million in Bermuda

SDFFSDD

Cameron’s taxes and the Panama Papers have led the BBC News bulletins for the past week, yet licence fee payers remain unenlightened about Auntie’s own offshore financial arrangements. What better place to start than the 2013 BBC Pensions report, which lists investments held by the Beeb’s £9 billion employee benefit scheme. Scroll down to page 16 and it is disclosed that the BBC used investment managers Nephila Capital Ltd to invest £84 million:

dsfds

Nephila Capital is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nephila Holdings Limited and is a Bermuda domiciled company. As the BBC lines up pundits to jump on the outrage bus about Dave’s £30,000 in a Panamanian unit trust, they stashed £84 million with investors based in Bermuda. There is lots more of this…

Look in the Mirror: Millions Held Offshore

“David Cameron has behaved like a chancer over offshore funds,” blasted the Mirror’s leader on Friday: “Voice of the Mirror says hard to believe the PM will end the use of offshore financial hideaways by the filthy rich when he is cut from the same cloth”. What the Mirror didn’t tell its readers is that their paper is also “cut from the same cloth”…

When Trinity Mirror tried to raise funds by issuing new shares to investors, it set up TM Finance (Jersey) Ltd, a “special purpose vehicle” to collect the proceeds offshore. Trinity Mirror’s annual report discloses the existence of “The Trinity Mirror Employee Benefit Trust”, a pension scheme whose beneficiaries could well include Mirror employees like chief offshore critic Kevin Maguire. Is it really Mirror Associate Editor our Kev’s trust? Appleby Global (Jersey) Ltd administer the Mirror’s offshore millions boasting: “Our fiduciary operation in Jersey has provided a broad range of offshore fiduciary and administration services… Our clients include high net worth private individuals and families along with an enviable array of global and UK businesses, such as… Trinity Mirror”. Please, tell us more about those “offshore financial hideaways”…

Then there is the Trinity International Restricted Share Plan, administered by Barclays Wealth Trustees (Guernsey) Ltd, another offshore trustee. Mirror, Mirror against the wall, who is the most hypocritical of them all?

UPDATE: Our Kev says “not me guv”.

Rich’s Monday Morning View

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READ: Cameron’s Tax Returns

Cameron has released his tax returns for the last six years. Wisely his inheritance was split into £300,000 from his father and a £200,000 gift from his mother in 2011, tax planning which will ultimately save him £70,000 in inheritance tax if his mother survives 7 years from the gift. Though Osborne’s pre-election Budget mockery of Miliband for “avoidance of inheritance tax” looks rich now…

Ken’s Spectacular Tax Hypocrisy

Ken Livingstone has gone on Russia Today to call for Cameron to be jailed over his taxes. That is the same Ken Livingstone who sheltered his earnings in a company so he could save £1,000-a-week in tax. Ken paid 21% corporation tax rate on £319,478 of earnings by invoicing to Silveta Ltd, instead of paying the 50% top rate of income tax. He also owned 99% of a similar company twice prosecuted for non-payment of taxes. Ken’s effective tax rate in 2012 was 14.5%. Today he laughably calls Cameron “the most hypocritical prime minister of my lifetime”…

Why Didn’t Cameron Declare Blairmore in 2009 Register of Interests

Today brings some of the worst front pages for David Cameron since be became PM, as Labour MPs hysterically call for him to resign. Could Dave’s £30,000 in an offshore trust be fatal?

Cameron is responsible for the situation, not his father, because he bought the Blairmore shares himself in 2007. Though it is worth remembering there is nothing wrong with investing in a foreign fund. Crucially – and wisely – he sold the shares in 2010. If he still owned shares in a Panama trust while PM he would be under a lot more pressure…

Did Cameron actually avoid any tax? He insists he didn’t, and several top journalists and tax experts agree Blairmore was not a tax avoidance scheme. There is currently no dispute that Cameron paid all the UK taxes on his income from his shares. If Cameron had avoided tax by hiding assets offshore, the situation would be very different…

And what about the attack line Labour MPs are clamouring around, that Dave did not declare his Blairmore shares in his 2009 Register of Members Interests? MPs are not required to declare shareholdings in unit trusts, holdings below £70,000 or 15% of a partnership:

So this is a blind alley for Labour. Cameron was not the beneficiary of an offshore trust while PM, he appears not to have avoided any tax, and he did not breach parliamentary rules. If any of these points change, then his position becomes a lot less tenable…

Dave Had £30,000 Stake in Offshore Trust

He tells Peston he and SamCam did own a stake in his father’s Panama trust, which he sold for £30,000 in 2010:

“We owned 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like £30,000.

I paid income tax on the dividends. There was a profit on it but it was less than the capital gains tax allowance so I didn’t pay capital gains tax. But it was subject to all the UK taxes in all the normal way.

I want to be as clear as I can about the past, about the present, about the future, because frankly I don’t have anything to hide.

[On his £300,000 inheritance] I obviously can’t point to every source of every bit of the money and dad’s not around for me to ask the questions now.

In all of this I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a very lucky person who had wealthy parents, who gave me a great upbringing, who paid for me to go to an amazing school. I have never tried to pretend to be anything I am not.

But I was keen in 2010 to sell everything – shares, all the rest of it – so I can be very transparent. I don’t own any part of any company or any investment trust or anything else like that.”

So the PM doesn’t know if he received offshore money in his inheritance, though he insists Blairmore was not set up to avoid tax:

“It wasn’t. It was set up after exchange controls went so that people who wanted to invest in dollar denominated shares and companies could do so. There are many other unit trusts like it, and I think it’s being unfairly described and my father’s name is being unfairly written about.”

There is of course nothing wrong in investing in a foreign fund, Cameron paid full UK taxes and sold the stake before be became PM. But as for the Downing Street news management, oh dear…

Hilary Benn Keeping Quiet on Family Tax Avoidance

Labour MPs are not pulling punches on the tax affairs of David Cameron’s father, calling him “absolutely disgusting” despite there still being some dispute over the extent of any tax avoidance that actually took place. What do they have to say about another prominent politician’s father and his tax affairs?

When Tony Benn’s wife died, he took steps to immediately pass his assets onto his children to reduce their eventual inheritance tax burden. The kids reportedly took part ownership of the family home in Holland Park, which was then quickly sold for £4.1 million. He also placed Stansgate House and its estate in trust, another nifty inheritance tax avoidance measure. Hilary Benn and his siblings directed benefited from his father’s careful tax planning. No wonder the Shadow Foreign Secretary has yet to comment on Dave’s predicament…

Labour PPB Star’s Accountants Specialise in Offshore Tax Avoidance

Art Malik

In Labour’s new Party Political Broadcast Art Malik rails against tax avoidance, claiming “the government squeezes the less well off while letting the richest avoid paying the taxes that the rest of us do”Malik is the director of a company called ML&J Ltd. The firm, which claims to engage in “motion picture production activities”, employs as its company secretary one Gina Malik, Art’s wife. A textbook little trick used by hundreds of actors, musicians and entertainers.

ML&J Ltd is registered to 24 Bedford Row, London. Coincidentally, that is also the address of its accountants, Mehta & Tengra. On their website Mehta & Tengra do not disguise how they help their clients’ companies avoid tax:

“Our accountants can conduct a review of your firm to determine areas where they can reduce your corporate tax exposure with an efficient strategy… forward planning can ensure compliance and result in considerable tax savings.”

Not only that, Mehta & Tengra even offer specialist “offshore tax planning” services.

Labour’s new crusader against tax avoidance owns a company that employs his wife and is registered to the address of his accountant specialising in aggressive tax avoidance…

PM Resigns Over Panama Papers

The Icelandic PM…[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

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