Tag Archives: Panama Papers

The super-rich may be avoiding billions in tax but HMRC has prosecuted just one of them

A specialist team at HM Revenue & Customs is examining the tax affairs of 6,500 super-rich individuals [Image: Alamy].

A specialist team at HM Revenue & Customs is examining the tax affairs of 6,500 super-rich individuals [Image: Alamy].

… And the story doesn’t say whether the prosecution was successful.

This revelation will certainly re-kindle claims that HMRC is concentrating far too much of its effort on tax avoidance among working- and middle-class people when it should be putting resources elsewhere.

But the simple fact is that it is easier to detect tax avoidance among the less wealthy classes – because they don’t enjoy as many – legal – opportunities for avoidance.

This is a story about corruption in Parliament, where super-rich MPs simply won’t simplify tax in a way that might disadvantage themselves. Or so it seems to This Writer.

Still, it is welcome to see that 40 of the people named in the Panama Papers are now under investigation.

Is it forlorn to hope that one of them is David Cameron?

Tax inspectors targeting Britain’s wealthiest people have identified potential evasion and avoidance worth nearly £2bn, but have pursued only one successful criminal prosecution, a National Audit Office report reveals.

It says the tax affairs of 6,500 super-rich individuals – each worth more than £20m – are being examined by a specialist HM Revenue and Customs unit. The unit is investigating outstanding receipts worth £1.9bn, a majority of which involve aggressive avoidance schemes.

However, just two individuals have been criminally investigated over the past five years, leading to a single prosecution, while another 70 were pursued through the civil courts.

In an indication of the scale of the task faced by the unit, the report discloses that each of the 6,500 super-rich taxpayers has had on average four serious tax issues looked at by the unit. Around 4,000 inquiries have been open for more than three years, it adds.

The report sheds a light on the scale of potential tax avoidance involving the super-rich and will prompt further claims that Britain’s wealthiest people are not being pursued with the same vigour as benefits claimants or small businesses.

Source: HMRC investigating £1.9bn in potential tax avoidance by super-rich | Business | The Guardian

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Get angry – about the OTHER foreign investment Cameron never mentioned

David Cameron’s investment in the Cayman Islands-based Vietnam Enterprise Fund emerged after the Panama Papers [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].

David Cameron’s investment in the Cayman Islands-based Vietnam Enterprise Fund emerged after the Panama Papers [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].

This Blog was one of many social media sites, organisations and individuals that called for David Cameron’s resignation when the ‘Panama Papers’ scandal broke earlier this year.

Now, his former director of communications has revealed that he was close to resigning and the revelation that he had another tax-avoiding foreign holding could have forced his hand.

But Craig Oliver said it never came to that because he simply did not release the information.

Nothing in the Guardian article quoted below shows that Cameron was accurate in the statement he eventually released, that “the prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds”.

And public opinion is likely to have swung against him in a big way if the Vietnamese holding had become public knowledge.

So get angry. Politicians are supposed to declare all their assets and interests to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority but the then prime minister had clearly flouted this rule.

It makes no sense to say he had an investment that did not benefit him or his family. Why have it, then?

But our watchdogs appear to have let us down.

I think this deserves greater investigation. How many more MPs are fabricating their entry in the register of members’ interests?

Downing Street officials were alarmed to discover that David Cameron had a holding in a Vietnamese investment fund registered in the Cayman Islands at the height of the Panama Papers revelations, according to a book by his former director of communications.

Sir Craig Oliver became aware that the then prime minister had previously invested “in something called the Vietnamese Enterprise Fund” following the Guardian’s investigation into the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The information was not released to the media at the time, after Oliver and his team decided: “We think it’s fine, but what if it’s not?”

The Vietnam Enterprise Fund is run by Dragon Capital in Vietnam, but registered in the Cayman Islands. Dominic Scriven, the chief executive of Dragon Capital, confirmed that Cameron had previously invested in the fund, and believed his father, Ian Cameron, had decided to invest the money.

In an attempt to control the story in April, Downing Street brought in a series of experts to try to make sense of Blairmore’s tax affairs, Oliver’s book said. They also carried out an analysis of Cameron’s personal tax arrangements and it was during this that the Vietnam Enterprise Fund investment emerged.

At the time, Cameron was facing one of the worst crises of his premiership, with Oliver acknowledging that at one point, he thought the then prime minister might have to resign over the Panama Papers.

Oliver wrote that Cameron and his wife, Samantha, had “an unhappy couple of hours in calls” with their accountant, before putting out a statement saying that the “prime minister, his wife and their children do not benefit from any offshore funds”.

Source: Cameron adviser reveals No 10’s alarm at his holding in offshore fund | Politics | The Guardian

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