Tag Archives: Stephen Green

David Cameron has no answer to tax-dodging allegations

Time is running out for David Cameron - and on the strength of today's performance, it won't be a moment too soon.

Time is running out for David Cameron – and on the strength of today’s performance, it won’t be a moment too soon.

The circus that is Prime Minister’s Questions gave us some illuminating information today.

Ed Miliband kicked off his questioning strongly with the following facts: “An hour ago, we learned that linked to the HSBC tax avoidance scandal are seven Tory donors, including a former treasurer of the Tory party, who between them have given the party nearly £5 million. How can the Prime Minister explain the revolving door between Tory party HQ and the Swiss branch of HSBC?

Cameron didn’t have an answer, so relied on diversion instead: “I saw that list just before coming to Prime Minister’s questions. One of the people named is the Labour donor, Lord Paul, who funded Gordon Brown’s election campaign.”

Mr Miliband tried a different tack: “None of those people has given a penny [to the Labour Party] on my watch, and he [Cameron] is up to his neck in this. Let us take Stanley Fink, who gave £3 million to the Conservative party. The Prime Minister actually appointed him as treasurer of the party and gave him a peerage for good measure. Will he now explain what steps he is going to take about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink?

No, the Prime Minister wouldn’t. Instead he made a weak point that Tory donors don’t pick candidates or choose policies – which we know isn’t accurate. Tory donors pay for the chance to bend Cameron’s ear and influence his policies; that’s what the ‘Gagging Act’ was all about.

Miliband pulled him up on it: “He is a dodgy Prime Minister surrounded by dodgy donors. He did not just take the money; he appointed the man who was head of HSBC as a minister. It was in the public domain in September 2010 that HSBC was enabling tax avoidance on an industrial scale. Are we seriously expected to believe that when he made Stephen Green a minister four months later, he had no idea about these allegations?”

Cameron’s response was to point out that Labour has a history with Lord Green as well. The problem with this, of course, is that the facts about Lord Green were not known until May 2010, after Labour had left office.

Miliband’s last words on the subject: “The Prime Minister is bang to rights, just like his donors. And doesn’t this all sound familiar? The Prime Minister appoints someone to a senior job in government. There are public allegations but he does not ask the questions, he turns a blind eye. Isn’t this just the behaviour we saw with Andy Coulson?”

Bang on target.

Look at this exchange. We see a Prime Minister with something to hide. He has no answers to the questions and must resort to deflection and insult in the hope that nobody will notice.

It’s a forlorn hope.

And it doesn’t matter how much money the tax avoiders have given the Tories –

This man and his party are morally bankrupt.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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It’s time to stand up for the whistleblowers

Hervé Falciani, the HSBC whistleblower - currently on the run from the Swiss authorities.

Hervé Falciani, the HSBC whistleblower – currently on the run from the Swiss authorities.

We owe a great debt to the whistleblowers – people who alert us to the misdeeds of the major corporations and public organisations whose decisions affect our everday lives.

Acting entirely altruistically – with no thought for personal gain – these people warn us about the cheats who squat at the top of the economic food chain, doing everything they can to screw the system.

The whistleblowers deserve congratulation and promotion, while the cheats should be removed from their positions, prosecuted, and ordered to pay substantial sums of money as penalty for their actions.

And what do we do? The exact opposite. We prosecute the whistleblowers and elevate the cheats.

Look at Hervé Falciani, the former HSBC systems engineer who revealed that the bank was helping clients avoid paying tax. According to Tax Research UK, he has been on the run from Swiss authorities because he broke Swiss bank secrecy laws to reveal the information, and is living under protection.

Antoine Deltour, who blew the whistle PricewaterhouseCoopers’ lucrative tax avoidance sideline, is now being prosecuted in Luxembourg at the behest of that firm.

Meanwhile, Stephen Green, who chaired HSBC at the time of its offences, was ennobled and made a Conservative minister, while PwC continues to advice the Tory government on its policies to tackle – yes – tax avoidance.

It’s a backwards culture that can only benefit the criminals, and it’s time for legislation to reverse the situation.

Is any political party brave enough to do the honourable thing?

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