Tag Archives: shares

Tory health minister promised to sell shares in health firm – but didn’t. Is this the reason?

Lord Markham: his word is about as much use as that of Rishi Sunak’s in-laws’ firm, Infosys, it seems.

This Writer has a certain amount of sympathy with Tory health minister Lord Markham.

He may have promised to sell his shares in private health screening firm Cignpost, that made a fortune from Covid testing, a year ago and failed to do so, but he’s not the first.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife’s dad’s firm Infosys promised to stop operating in Russia after that country invaded Ukraine – but was still there, picking up contracts, eight months later (to my knowledge).

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If that firm – and the prime ministerial in-laws who run it – can ignore its promises, why can’t Markham?

After all, they’re all in it together – right?

A Tory health minister still owns a major stake in a private health screening firm making money from the crisis in the NHS a year after promising to sell it, the Mirror can reveal.

Lord Markham annouced last January that he was “undertaking to sell my stake” in Cignpost, a private Covid testing firm which made a fortune from the pandemic. But Company House records for Cignpost Investments Limited still show Markham owning between 25% and 50% of the business.

Cignpost has filed accounts showing that revenue soared by 467% to £278m in 2022, thanks to booming business helping firms comply with covid rules. The company has £52m cash in the bank and shareholder funds are up 150% from last year. Cignpost also offers mobile health screening, including heart health assessments and skin screening, which can be done in “your board room, staff car park or a third-party venue”.

Source: Tory health minister still hasn’t sold stake in Covid testing firm a year after promise – Mirror Online


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People of Chipping Barnet: Theresa Villiers is the kind of MP you DON’T want

Theresa Villiers: she says her failure to declare £70,000 worth of shares in Shell was an “oversight”. Was it really, though? What else has she failed to share?

This is shocking: when she was the government member charged with caring for our environment, Theresa Villiers had £70,000 worth of shares in mass-polluter Shell oil.

She is the MP for Chipping Barnet, where constituents should be outraged that she has been working for the enrichment of that firm (and therefore increased profits for herself) rather than in their interests.

That firm recently announced profits of $5 billion (US), which is admittedly down from the £7.7 billion (UK) it made in the first quarter of 2023. Of that, £6 billion found its way into the bank accounts of shareholders like Ms Villiers.

Shell stock is currently worth around £24 – higher than the £19.41 when Ms Villiers left office as Environment Secretary, so she’s making a bit of a killing.

She says her failure to declare this enormous conflict of interest was an oversight that won’t happen again:

The only reason it won’t happen again is that she has been caught red-handed and knows she can’t hide this any more.

What else has she been hiding, though?

It seems clear that there is only one way to keep this woman from lying – call it what it is – about business interests that create conflicts with her duty to the nation.

That is to ensure that she cannot have a job in which such conflicts arise.

If Ms Villiers is more interested in making money for herself than in safeguarding the interests and well-being of the United Kingdom as a whole, then she should be forced back into the private sector.

No doubt she’ll quickly find work with a firm that has profited from UK government policy.

She might do well by sending her CV to Shell.


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Is the NatWest/Nigel Farage row another enormous scam to profit the super-rich?

Nigel Farage: why is the loss of his bank account a scandal and not the removal of many accounts belonging to Muslims? Is it because super-rich people can profit from it – including his GB News boss?

Why have we seen such a media outpouring of sympathy for Nigel Farage over the closure of his Coutts & Co bank account when the same thing has been happening to Muslims since the turn of the century and they’ve had no coverage?

Is it because Sir Paul Marshall, owner of Farage’s employer GB News, runs a hedge fund that took out a “short” position on Coutts’ owner NatWest’s stock – bet that the bank’s market price would fall? Stock has now fallen by £850 million and Marshall’s hedge fund – Marshall Wace – has made a fortune.

And is the Tory government also preparing to sell its 40 per cent shareholding in NatWest and an incident that artificially lowers the price would mean any of their friends and donors who bought those shares would be able to make a very fast profit when they rise after the scandal is over?

That would be very corrupt, wouldn’t it?

Here’s what has been happening over at GB News:

In its reportThe London Economic adds that “it’s only a snip of the billions under management at the firm and is likely to have been computer driven” – but how do we know that?

It seems clear that Sir Paul Marshall has been in a position both to know in advance about the situation with Farage’s bank account, to use it to give the bank bad publicity and engineer a share price collapse, and to profit from that collapse via his hedge fund.

That would be insider trading, which is illegal. Anyone convicted of it faces unlimited fines and/or up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

It depends on when Farage’s account was closed, when news reports of the closure appeared, and whether GB News was among the first to report it (it doesn’t even have to be the first). Did Farage mention it to his boss?

Next:

This makes sense as the Tory government has ‘form’ in this regard; it sold shares in Lloyds Bank at a loss in 2017.

Finally, and possibly damningly: perhaps the biggest reason this whole affair smells worse than a pile of Haddock that have been dead for four weeks is that the media have known about people having their bank accounts closed for no reason since some time around the turn of the century.

That well-respected (and then right-wing) reporter Peter Oborne spent years trying to get UK news outlets to report on the plight of innocent Muslims whose accounts were closed in this way, to no avail.

I’ll let him explain:

So we have a situation that has been ongoing for two decades or more, of which reporters, editors and bosses in the mass media are well aware; it becomes a public scandal only when a high-profile political figure who is now a presenter on a news channel is disadvantaged by it – allowing the owner of that channel to make millions of pounds from it; and it lowers the share price of a commercial organisation in which the UK government has shares, leading to speculation that those shares will be sold to make a profit for people who are already very rich.

Are you prepared to shrug and say it all seems perfectly innocent to you? Or would you like an investigation of what may be considered fraud under UK insider trading laws?


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Health service in England to be privatised as Tories pass misnamed ‘Health and Care’ Bill

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket): many Conservative MPs have shares in private health companies that will profit from this legislation.

So that’s that. The National Health Service in England is to be carved into 42 smaller organisations that will be passed into the hands of private, profit-making health companies:

The boards of the new Integrated Care Systems, that commission services, will be dominated by profit-grubbers, and they’re not going to give the non-profit organisation a chance to take money out of their shareholders’ pockets.

This means the duty to provide a comprehensive health service is being abolished. The quality of healthcare in all parts of England will plummet as a result.

The only hope now is for the Lords to bounce the Bill back with significant amendments. This is a possibility as the Tories are in a minority there. But the Commons will most likely just send it back with the amendments reversed because many Tory MPs have shares in profit-making health firms.

Let’s also spare a moment to remind ourselves that Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour leader, warned everybody in the United Kingdom that this was the Conservative plan, with more than 450 pages of evidence, in the run-up to the 2019 election.

His words were ridiculed and Boris Johnson’s Tories were elected with a landslide majority after around 13 million people voted for them.

By a curious coincidence, the NHS waiting list is expected to swell past 13 million over the next few months – due entirely to the same Tory government’s utter indifference to your health.

Many of those waiting more than a year, in pain and suffering, for routine procedures will be the very same Conservative voters who put Johnson and his raiders in power. Do they now have buyers’ remorse?

Not a bit of it!

Like petulant children, Tory voters hate being told they were wrong and will self-harm as a response to being told how to help themselves.

Trust me on that.

I’ve been pointing out Tory failures for years and that’s why This Site’s readership is so… er… exclusive.

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Private health owns Sajid Javid. You can’t trust him with the NHS

Crook: Sajid Javid used his position as Health Secretary to sign government contracts with a US healthcare firm, in which he himself owns shares. He was diverting public funds to his own wallet in the form of dividends.

Sajid Javid has been using his job as Health Secretary to give government contracts to the US healthcare business specialising in artificial intelligence, of which he is a shareholder.

Here‘s the UK government press release in which we were all told artificial intelligence is the way forward. Javid himself is not quoted in support of it – a simple bit of sleight-of-hand to divert attention away from the fact that he is owned by a US healthcare firm specialising in AI.

The press release states:

GP surgeries are using artificial intelligence to help prioritise patients most in need and identify the right level of care and support needed for patients on waiting lists.

Now this:

It is a clear conflict of interest.

Even if artificial intelligence – applied to health care – is a good idea, we have no reason to believe the systems booked in by Javid to provide himself with a fat dividend are any good at all.

Like so many of his colleagues, he stands exposed as another filthy, corrupt political crook.

This Writer awaits his resignation. But knowing crooked UK politics, I won’t hold my breath waiting.

ADDITIONAL: It is worth remembering that Parliament is chock-full of MPs and Lords who have shares in private healthcare or have received cash from those companies:

This list is now seven years old. Some of those on it have gone; new names should be added to it. But it gives an idea of the extent to which private healthcare has sunk its claws into the heart of our government.

Do you honestly think you can trust anybody in Parliament to make the right decisions for the nation’s health?

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Hancock breached ministerial code with his shares in firm that has NHS contract. Why is he still health secretary?

Matt Hancock: you wouldn’t trust him to pick up a prescription from the chemist, but Boris Johnson made him health secretary. No wonder hundreds of thousands of people have died of Covid-19.

Here’s a great example of Tory corruption: the independent advisor on ministerial standards has announced that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has breached the ministerial code. It’s a sacking offence, so why does he still have his job?

Answer: because standards have slipped to such a low standard under prime minister Boris Johnson that cabinet ministers can get away with anything.

This case concerns a firm called Topwood, run by Hancock’s sister and brother-in-law. It managed to get onto NHS Shared Business Services framework in 2019, just months after Hancock became Health Secretary.

Hancock was then given – it seems he didn’t pay for them – a 20 per cent share in the shredding, storage and security firm, right before it won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal including the shredding of confidential documents.

His failure to disclose that he has shares in the firm was described as a “technical breach” of the ministerial code by Lord Geidt – who has also given Boris Johnson a clean bill of health over the funding of refurbishment work on the 11 Downing Street flat.

Hancock was characterised as having been unaware that he needed to declare this conflict of interest. But ignorance of the law is no excuse – as you or I would soon find out if we were to fall foul of similar rules.

You see the problem?

Labour’s Angela Rayner does. She has pointed out that the decision not to penalise Hancock sets a precedent that cabinet ministers do not have to follow the rules.

She said:

“I have asked Lord Geidt whether he agrees that this precedent of a Cabinet minister being found by an independent investigation to have broken the ministerial code and then not resigning sends a very clear message that the rules don’t apply to Cabinet ministers, with this case therefore damaging public trust in our politics, fundamentally weakening the ministerial code system and giving carte blanche to other ministers to break the ministerial code safe in the knowledge that they will not face sanctions.”

In fact, this has already happened.

Priti Patel was found to have broken the ministerial code in a serious way – she had been bullying civil servants in the various government departments she has darkened with her presence, including the Home Office.

But prime minister Boris Johnson, who has ultimate power to decide whether a breach has taken place, let her off.

The decision prompted former independent advisor on ministerial standards, Sir Alex Allan, to resign.

The Cabinet Office has tried to laugh off the controversy by saying that new guidelines suggest that ministerial code breaches should be attract a range of different sanctions according to their seriousness, and this was the first case to be examined after the change.

How convenient.

All this shows is that the Johnson government has deliberately let the corruption in.

The removal of a minister after any breach of the code at all was intended to be a strong deterrent – to ensure that ministers stuck strictly to their duties, because even the slightest deviation would attract the harshest penalty.

But now deviants like Hancock are being told they can do what they like.

It is a scandal and you should not put up with it.

But you do, because there is no mechanism within the law by which you can put a stop to it.

Now, who do you think put that system in place?

Source: Letting Matt Hancock keep job after breach ‘gives ministers licence to break rules’ | Evening Standard

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Why was Hancock given shares in sister’s firm right before it won Welsh NHS contract?

Matt Hancock: stupid, incompetent, or corrupt?

There seems to be a lot of disillusionment with politics in the UK at the moment – evidenced by a lack of interest in political news.

At least, that’s how it seems to this commentator on political news.

It doesn’t help that there seems to be only one story in UK politics at the moment: corruption.

And why not? you may ask. Don’t politics and corruption go hand in hand?

Yes indeed – according to an old cliche.

But there seem to be no other stories right now. Even if there were, it’s likely that we’d be able to find an element of corruption in them. It has become the trademark of Boris Johnson’s government.

It’s also why people are turning away. They don’t like it; they want to get away from it.

But it won’t go away by itself. We need people who are willing to wade in, roll their sleeves up and cut out the rot.

We do have such people – and they are champing at the bit in their keenness to get to work.

But they won’t be able to do anything while the general public is still voting people like Matt Hancock into Parliament.

People like Hancock benefit from the system as it is currently constructed, so they are not going to change it.

I mention Hancock because he is the latest Tory to be associated with a government contract given to a private company.

He recently became a shareholder in a shredding, storage and security firm called Topwood – right before it won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal including the shredding of confidential documents.

Shares in that firm are now held by three people: Managing Director Thomas Gilruth has 40, his wife Emily has another 40, and the remaining 20 went to her brother – Matt Hancock – after previous shareholders Bob and Shirley Carter gave up their 10 each, earlier this year.

Do we know why they gave up these shares? And it seems Hancock was given them, rather than buying them – isn’t that unusual?

Then there’s the timing – he received these shares right before Topwood won these large contracts, and Topwood coincidentally secured its place on the NHS Shared Business Services framework in 2019, just months after Hancock became Health Secretary.

Doesn’t it seem at least… odd… to you?

Legally, it seems there is nothing wrong. As Health Secretary in the Westminster government, Hancock has absolutely no influence on the awarding of contracts by NHS Wales, and this one was handed to Topwood after a competitive tendering process was completed. His interest in the firm has been declared.

But it doesn’t seem right, does it?

It seems as though Hancock used his influence as new Health Secretary to get his sister’s firm onto the NHS Shared Business Services framework nearly two years ago, and it seems that, now that the firm has a big contract, she and her husband are rewarding him with a share of the profits.

Even if that isn’t true – and I should stress I have no firm evidence in either direction – the fact that this is the way it seems is damaging for Topwood, for Hancock, and for the Johnson Tory government at a time when corruption is hot political news.

Hancock – who has also been mentioned in connection with the Greensill scandal (he had discussions with David Cameron) – should have refused the gift of shares in order to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.

But he didn’t.

As a result, the Tory government’s former anti-corruption champion has laid himself open to suggestions that he is either stupid, incompetent… or corrupt.

I hope someone follows the paper trail to find out how Topwood got onto that NHS Shared Business Services framework. It might be the only way Hancock can clear himself.

Or it might not. Either way, we need to know.

But I can confidently predict that, whatever the outcome, it won’t stop the voters of West Suffolk from supporting him again at the next general election.

Source: Matt Hancock Holds Shares In Sister’s Firm Who Won NHS Contracts | HuffPost UK

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Government buys 100 million doses of vaccine by firm that ‘procurement tsar’ part-owns

Interesting display of priorities by the Conservative government here.

It has bought 100 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, enough to vaccinate 50 million people, having approved its supply with the first doses to be given on Monday.

This compares with just 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was approved in early December – enough for 20 million people, with doses already supplied to nearly 700,000.

Is it a coincidence that – as revealed by the New York Times – Lord Deighton, the Tory procurement tsar whose attempts to get personal protective equipment went so badly wrong, is a shareholder in AstraZeneca?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses – enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

This will cover the entire population, when combined with the full order of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Meanwhile, the number of new Covid-19 cases has soared again, to 53,135 on December 29. This is due to the Tories’ failure to make any real effort to control the spread of the virus.

Even in the current lockdown, schools will reopen when term begins in January – and schools are now recognised as the principle vector for the spread of the disease.

It’s almost as though someone had created an urgent need for a vaccine, in order to supply that demand.

I know.

It’s just paranoia. And I shouldn’t mind that somebody is getting very rich indeed from the suffering of millions of people.

Source: Covid-19: Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine approved for use in UK – BBC News

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Financial Times gives Labour a huge boost with front page lead on life-changing policies

Plaudits to Skwawkbox for pointing out the fact that the Financial Times has shot itself in the foot with its lead story today (September 2).

The headline states that “Labour would cost companies £300bn” – implying that this is a scare story. But it continues “by shifting shares to staff”.

Brilliant news!

It’s saying that working people, who actually create the profits that the UK’s biggest firms make every day, will actually receive a dividend from those profits under a future Labour government.

That alone is a good reason to vote Labour at any future election.

No doubt the parasites will claim that the move will destabilise UK industry but this is clearly nonsense.

Working people have every right to profit – just as much as bosses and other shareholders – from the work they do.

The Financial Times (FT) has given the ‘above the fold’ half of its front page this morning to policies it presumably thinks will horrify its core readership – but which will be music to the ears of millions of voters hard-pressed under the Tories and their prioritisation, as Corbyn said in his Salford speech this morning, of ‘those who lend and speculate over those who actually make things‘.

The headline may blare about ‘costing UK companies £300bn’ – the FT’s estimate – but it goes on to say ‘by shifting shares to staff’. The article itself can’t help but elaborate a few of Labour’s groundbreaking policies and the way they would revolutionise the life of ‘the many’ in this country:

And it seems the FT digs itself further in by listing other great Labour policies:

The detail of the front-page coverage gives some key information on just a few of Labour’s game-changing policies:

  • Labour in government will give shares to workers in seven thousand of the UK’s biggest employers – entitling them to dividends of up to £500 per year as well as helping the national finances
  • Labour will introduce a right-to-buy for tenants of private landlords at affordable prices, helping to reduce the concentration of property in the hands of a few that has driven up rents and house prices under Conservative governments
  • Shifting power away from ‘bosses and landlords’ and to the people
  • Increasing productivity and long-term thinking by giving employees a meaningful stake

The timing is also hilariously inept for a newspaper trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and Labour.

This week, Parliament is in crisis as Boris Johnson’s dictatorial excuse for a government tries to overrule Parliament’s sovereignty in order to push through a “no deal” Brexit that few people want.

MPs may push back, even to the point of demanding a general election.

And on the eve of such a move, the Financial Times has given us all an excellent reason to vote Labour into power.

Tony Blair may be urging Labour to vote against an election on the grounds that Jeremy Corbyn is unpopular – but he is preaching a perspective on the Labour leader that is largely created by the Tory media.

We saw similar claims evaporate during the 2017 election campaign and fearmongers and yesterday’s men like Mr Blair would be better-off keeping their mouths shut.

The message from this newspaper is clear – if not quite as intended: If a general election is possible, bring it on! Labour will walk it.

Source: FT inadvertently gives huge front-page ad to Labour as party of hope and change | The SKWAWKBOX

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Another Tory ‘bait-and-switch’ scam – shares-for-rights scheme is employers’ tax dodge

shares-rights-tax

“This government is taking action domestically on [tax] avoidance and evasion,” wrote George Osborne in an article for The Observer, back in February. How right he was.

The Tory-led Coalition has done everything in its power to facilitate tax avoidance and ignore evasion, it seems, including the latest wheeze, which is to link it with a feeble attempt to get working people to throw away their rights in exchange for a few shares.

The BBC has reported that the new status of “employee shareholder” has come into force, allowing working people to claim shares in the company that employs them, if they give up the rights to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay, the right to request flexible working (except in the case of two weeks’ parental leave), and some rights to request time off for training.

Nobody in their right mind would do this and expert opinion is that take-up will be small. So why do it?

Well, it’s not about the workers at all. It’s about helping company bosses avoid paying their taxes. Even the right-wing-leaning BBC was unable to cover up the facts (although it left them until the end of the article):

“Companies can also claim some corporation tax deductions on the issuance of shares to employees.”

Yes – it’s a tax dodge!

Here’s how it works, according to the Mirror: “New analysis show[s] it could also allow executives to avoid paying revenue on company shares. Tax experts commissioned by the TUC believe ruthless bosses could classify themselves as ’employee owners’ to escape Capital Gains Tax. And the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the scheme could cost up to £1 billion, mainly due to tax avoidance.”

This will, of course, involve a drop in tax income to the Treasury, meaning increases in the national debt and deficit, which the Tories will no doubt use to justify further cuts to public service budgets as part of their ‘Starve The Beast’ agenda. Remember, this country has a chancellor who, for ideological purposes, actually wants to harm the British economy.

Meanwhile, as our friend at Another Angry Voice has put it: “If you’re thick enough to cash in your labour rights for a few grand worth of shares in the company you work for, then in a couple of years time when people are calling you ‘feckless’ for being unemployed, you’ll be one of the minority that actually deserve it (and your shares might well be worth only pennies in the pound compared to the value they had when you scrapped your labour rights to get them).”