Tag Archives: Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

Gauke, Osborne and Goldman Sachs: The Treasury’s corrupt tax avoidance conspiracy

Rumbled: David Gauke, the ugly face of Treasury-approved tax avoidance. This man is one reason the poor are being made to pay so heavily for the foolishness of the very rich.

Rumbled: David Gauke, the ugly face of Treasury-approved tax avoidance. This man is one reason the poor are being made to pay so heavily for the foolishness of the very rich.

You know something is wrong in the Treasury when the minister in charge of tax is revealed to have worked for a firm specialising in tax avoidance.

The wrongdoing goes off the scale when it is revealed that the same minister has been actively trying to gag a whistleblower who uncovered a “sweetheart” deal to write off a huge amount of tax owed to the UK by a private company.

That is precisely what we have learned today, thanks to The Guardian.

It seems that David Gauke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, green-lit a plan to discredit testimony from Osita Mba, a solicitor with HM Revenue and Customs, after he took the notorious Goldman Sachs “sweetheart” deal to the public.

For those who don’t know about this, the deal with Goldman Sachs was worth up to £20 million, and was part of a series of four such settlements, with large companies, that netted £4.5 billion for the Treasury. That might seem like a lot of money.

But it begs the question, asked by Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs Parliament’s public accounts committee: How much did we not get?

One person who might know the answer is Mr Mba, who told two parliamentary committees that the then-head of tax, Dave Hartnett, had agreed a deal allowing Goldman Sachs, a US bank, to escape £20 million in interest charges, payable to the UK. He claimed Mr Hartnett had done this without following proper procedures.

Disciplinary proceedings were launched against Mr Mba within HMRC, meaning he was suspended from work, and an emailed exchange between an HMRC press officer and Gauke’s private secretary strongly suggest that the minister wanted to discredit the whistleblower with a media smear campaign.

From here, matters get very dodgy indeed.

The National Audit Office was asked to investigate the Goldman Sachs case, along with four others, and although Judge Andrew Parks’ report was not publicly released, the head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, told MPs that the deals had been cleared. Morse’s role was later questioned after a leaked document showed that he had told Hartnett the inquiry would find “nothing of substance” – before it began.

And it was revealed last Thursday – again by The Guardian, which appears to be living up to its name – that the deal with Goldman Sachs had been arranged partly to save our part-time Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gideon 0sborne, from embarrassment.

It seems that the dispute with Goldman Sachs was settled hastily after the bank threatened to pull out of a new tax framework, a week after 0sborne had announced that the bank had signed up to it.

The revelation was made at the High Court last Wednesday, where UK Uncut was calling for a judgement to declare that the 2010 settlement between the bank and HMRC was unlawful. The court heard that Hartnett had personally overruled legal advice, the HMRC’s own guidelines and its internal review board over the issue (confirming Mr Mba’s claim).

So it was a cover-up, in order to allow a company to escape paying the UK a huge amount of money, with the blessing of ministers including 0sborne and Gauke.

In Gauke’s case, of course, this is unsurprising. It has long been known – as can be seen by this entry on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog – that the minister has not only avoided paying tax himself but also worked for Macfarlanes, a top city law firm that specialises in helping the wealthy avoid paying tax.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which has been passing through Parliament recently, includes a section intended to introduce greater protection for individuals from harassment when they blow the whistle at work.

In the light of the treatment of Mr Mba, by members of the government that has introduced this bill, it remains to be seen whether this measure was ever intended to succeed.

The government’s plan to smash workers’ rights

You may not be aware of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.

It is the Coalition’s latest legislation against ordinary working people, currently moving through the Parliamentary process. Today (October 17) was the second day of the debate on its second reading.

The Bill contains some horrendous proposals that could seriously damage workers’ rights. Here’s the letter I wrote to my MP, pointing them out:

Dear Roger Williams,

I am writing with regard to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which, as I understand it, is likely to cause serious harm to the relationship between workers and (certain) employers if it ever becomes law.

Please do not support this Bill. I know this request puts you in a difficult position as a member of the Coalition, but if you cannot bring yourself to vote against it, at least don’t vote in favour of it.

If the Bill becomes law, it will diminish the rights of all employees in this country. The proposals it contains would reduce the amount of compensation payable to unfairly dismissed workers – and this comes after the time an employee is required to be employed before they are able to claim for unfair dismissal was raised from one year to two.

I understand the Bill also proposes to reduce protections for whistleblowers at work. This is completely wrong-headed as it protects abuses and attacks those who seek justice.

If the Bill is passed, it will allow employers to make minimal offers to workers to leave, then gag the same workers from even mentioning this at employment tribunal, even if they reject the offer.

It will leave thousands in fear for their jobs at a time when the government should be making it easier for firms to hire.

Not content with that, whoever drafted the Bill has included the abolition of the Human Rights Commission’s duty to promote a society free of discrimination. Why? Is that not something we should all be striving towards?

Is the government sending a message that it intends to promote intolerance against minorites – or, to give it its proper title, bigotry?

Do you want to be a member of a government of bigots?

The product of these complex clauses in the Bill, combined with the fact the Government are also going to start charging fees for employment tribunals, has been termed ‘Beecroft Lite’, as it virtually amounts to Adrian Beecroft’s call for ‘compensated no-fault dismissal’.

Many people will agree to a poorly-compensated ‘settlement agreement’ as, for many, accessing justice will seem too complicated and too expensive.

We already have millions of people out of work – this Bill will make it easier to fire people.

The working people of Brecon and Radnorshire rely on their rights at work to give security for them and for their family.

Please consult your conscience before voting on this Bill.

I will be very interested to see if he paid any attention to me. As he is a Liberal Democrat, and therefore a member of the Coalition, my hopes are not high.