Tag Archives: money laundering

POLL: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted a criminal offence. What should be done with him?

Smirking: Yet again, Jeremy Hunt seems to have got away with it.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is a criminal.

He may never go to prison for his offence because he is a Conservative cabinet member and that means corruption – but we can all see the truth of it.

Hunt bought seven luxury flats in Southampton with his wife – they acted as a company called Mare Pond Properties – then failed to notify the Register of Members’ Interests in Parliament within the required 28-day period, or Companies House. When the registration documents were filed in September 2017 only his wife was named, constituting a breach of regulations. His failure to declare his interest to Companies House is a criminal offence. It took him months to rectify these omissions.

According to The Guardian, “He also breached the Companies Act, which requires anyone with more than 25 per cent control of a company to be declared ‘a person with significant control’. The act was introduced by David Cameron’s government in 2015 to tackle money laundering and came into force the following year.”

Hunt says these were genuine errors – an “honest mistake”.

His spokesperson said Hunt notified the Cabinet Office in good time but did not realise he was supposed to register the holdings with the other organisations.

Do you believe that? Even if you do, does it make a difference?

They are indeed. In addition to the new offences against money-laundering legislation, Mr Hunt is also a tax dodger, having avoided £100,000 in tax in 2010, days before a 10 per cent rise in the tax on dividends in April 2010.

Let’s let the Telegraph, of all periodicals, explain:

“[Mr Hunt] and his business partner, Mike Elms, transferred ownership of their company’s office building in Hammersmith into their own names in April 2010, just before the tax rate for the transaction rose to 42.5 per cent. They then leased the property back to Hotcourses, their jointly owned education company, for 10 years.

“By paying themselves the building as a dividend before the change in tax rules, the two men saved themselves an income tax bill of £202,000 on the £1.8 million deal, by paying tax on it at the rate of 32.5 per cent. The company now pays them £60,750 a year in rent. No stamp duty was payable on the property, which at the time would have been 4 per cent.”

Nauseating.

The Tory government is adamant that there is nothing to be done about this. Hunt has apologised and the matter is closed.

Shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett disagrees. He has referred the case to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. He said: “Faith in politics and politicians is at a historic low. Any minister flouting the rules designed to prevent big financial interests corrupting politics must be held to account, especially when that minister’s own government introduced the rules.”

What do you think, though?


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Rona Fairhead’s record should disqualify her from public office, but the Tories have found her two. Why?

Rona Fairhead: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens? [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock.]

Rona Fairhead was well-known to be a Conservative when she was appointed as chair of the BBC Trust. I commented on her political persuasion here and here.

It turns out she was also chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank was mired in tax avoidance and money laundering scandals. It also transpires that George Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned the US government not to press criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars.

One has to question whether Mr Osborne would have – if he had been editing the Evening Standard at the time – discouraged reporters there from writing about HSBC, as happened at the Daily Telegraph. Ah, but of course the Torygraph had recently benefited from a stonkingly huge HSBC loan – £250 million. That kind of money can seal a lot of laptops.

But then again, it was alleged earlier this year that HSBC laundered £5 million into Conservative Party hands, in advance of the 2010 general election. Would that be enough to buy George Osborne’s loyalty? I leave that to your own judgement.

Meanwhile, Ms Fairhead is now the Tory minister in charge of trade and export promotion, after being rewarded with a peerage for… well, for being involved in lots of scandals, apparently.

Tories have ‘form’ in this respect – former HSBC chairman Stephen Green quit his job (after the bank was involved in the scandals listed above) to become a Tory peer and minister of state for trade and investment in 2011.

Stephen Green: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Here‘s the Guardian‘s piece on Ms Fairhead’s appointment:

The former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been appointed as an international trade minister with a life peerage, Downing Street has announced.

Fairhead will replace Mark Price, the former Waitrose managing director who quit after a year as trade policy minister. The MP Greg Hands has taken over the policy role, and Fairhead’s title will be minister for trade and export promotion.

Fairhead was the chief executive of the Financial Times Group before taking on the BBC role, from which she resigned after Theresa May indicated that she would have to reapply for the job to which she had been appointed by David Cameron.

Fairhead was the chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank admitted to “past compliance and control failures” in the group, after it was mired in a tax avoidance row uncovered by the Guardian’s HSBC files investigation.

The Graun reported that Labour’s Margaret Hodge had attacked the appointment, saying it was “not down to her capabilities”. And she’s not the only one with issues:

It seems clear the Conservative government has a problem understanding the concept of trustworthiness.

A person who has been involved with a business that has regularly and unrepentantly engaged in criminal activities should not have been made chair of the BBC Trust, as David Cameron did. It casts doubt on the reasons for the appointment and raises questions about interference with BBC current affairs coverage.

Theresa May was right to demand that Ms Fairhead re-apply for the job, under those circumstances. But now she has shown a colossal error of judgement in giving the same person a peerage and ministerial appointment. Why? One has to ask what is behind this decision.

Whatever the answer to that question, we can be sure that Ms Fairhead’s appearance in the House of Lords can only undermine what little faith is left in the Conservatives as a party of government.


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