The overall amount of finance held in tax havens, Panama, Caymans, Jersey etc. attributable to members of the Tory Party employed as MP’s, Baron’s etc in the House of Lords, Venture Capitalists, Hedge Funds, Charitable Funds, Corporations, other Organisations, other Financial supporters in or around the City of London, their wives, other family members, their heirs and successors is around £50trillion. (A guestimante but who can say otherwise with confidence)
A one off 20% levy on the profits deriving from these funds would be sufficient to clear the UK National Debt and provide a working surplus allowing completion of much needed capital developments. Austerity could be discontinued bringing much relief to the hard pressed British public
The major difficulty is the “ merchants of the City of London“, the square mile of the worlds financial intrigue. They will not give up their control of the British Protectorate Tax Havens, preferring to launder through them loads of funny money around the world. All to the detriment of the British public.
Another difficulty is identifying just who has what tucked away where. The “Registration of Financial Interests” in Westminster specifically excludes the need for politicians to reveal any financial information pertaining to such holdings. Paragraph 58 states:
“Holdings in a collective investment vehicle (including unit trusts, investment companies with variable capital (ICVCs) and investment trusts) are not generally registrable.”
The return of a Tory government was much welcomed by the Tory party and their supporters in the City of London who were at risk of losing some of the financial perks extended to them since 1979, at the time Thatcher removed Capital restrictions from financial institutions. The site listed below provides explanatory information about the sharp practices being foisted upon the British electorate. http://www.offshoreumbrellacompanies.com/
If the Tory government is serious in it’s manifesto pledge to close down Tax Haven loopholes they should make a start by introducing measures requiring MP’s, Lord’ etc. to declare all relevant information to the treasury and in the “Register of member’s Interest’s”.
Adding to the debate is information pertaining to David Cameron whose fortunes are mirrored throughout the “British Upper Class”
Continuing failure by (Westminster and the City of London Financiers) to address the multitude of financial “scams” will surely bring about calls for Scotland to break away from a system of governance that punishes rather than protects the electorate.
April 2015: The Code of Conduct and Guide to Rules – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmcode.htm
April 2015: The Register of Members’ Financial Interests – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem.htm
30 Aug 2013: An explanation, (by use of analogy) addressing the impact of unfettered political doctrine on the UK population http://syzygysue.com/2013/08/03/politics-and-parasites/
Questions about links between Britain’s rulers and the obscure world of offshore finance signal a need for transparency. Last weekend, the Guardian reported that the British prime minister’s father, Ian Cameron, held directorships in companies registered in tax havens. These companies were created soon after then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher relaxed capital controls in 1979. They were the foundation of a fortune estimated at around £10m ($16m) in 2009.
That Cameron comes from a wealthy background hardly qualifies as front-page news. But his family’s links to the offshore sector have not, until now, been widely publicised. In its obituary of Ian Cameron, (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/7990368/Ian-Cameron.html) for example, the Telegraph mentioned his work as a stockbroker and described him as an “old school” City man. But it made no reference to his being the chairman of Close International Asset Management (Jersey), and a director of both Blairmore Holdings (Panama City) and Blairmore Asset Management (Geneva).
There is no hint of any offshore connection in David Cameron’s recent entries in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests published by parliament. In the past year he has listed benefits such as “honorary membership for life of the Carlton Club” and “discounted personal training”. He also notes “residential property in London, from which rental income is received”. When he was on the board of Urbium, a company that very successfully promotes the consumption of alcohol, he disclosed the fact. Doubtless he is scrupulous in his observance of the current rules concerning outside interests. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/contents.htm)
But it is time to ask if the British prime minister has a beneficial interest in an entity or entities registered offshore. Indeed, it is time to ask if any of our politicians benefit from facilities provided by companies, trusts and other institutions located in tax havens. The main purpose of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmcode/1885/188504.htm) is “to provide information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in parliament, or actions taken in the capacity of a member of parliament”.
If an elected politician uses offshore facilities, for the purposes of long-term tax planning, for example, or to hold wealth in trust for his or her heirs, surely this would qualify as a “material benefit”? And isn’t it reasonable to think that such an arrangement could have some bearing on his or her actions “taken in the capacity of a member of parliament”? After all, states such as Britain have a decisive role in determining the size and scope of offshore. The UK government suddenly removed capital controls in 1979. It could, just as suddenly, reinstate them. It could also change its attitude towards wealth held overseas by UK citizens and residents. Politicians can make tax avoidance more or less easy through changes in legislation.
There is another sense in which offshore assets are not like other forms of property. The costs of creating investment vehicles and other structures in tax havens ensure that only a tiny minority can afford to take advantage of them: “A change in the interest rate affects savers and borrowers in a clear and obvious way. But politicians can quietly change the rules governing offshore and deliver huge benefits to a handful of very wealthy individuals.”
There are one or two indications that British politicians are aware of offshore. The most recent Register of Members’ Interests notes visits to Liechtenstein by four MPs: Daniel Kawczynski, Angus Macneil, Mark Menzies and Andrew Rosindell. One of the four, Daniel Kawczynski, also visited Jersey at the invitation of the island’s first minister. Two others, Brian Donohue and Graham Brady, visited Grand Cayman in the same period. (http://www.allparty.org/all-party-groups/liechtenstein)
I hope that MPs who visit tax havens make a point of highlighting their concerns about offshore’s role in facilitating tax avoidance, tax evasion, money laundering and corruption. Doubtless the bankers of Liechtenstein tremble a little at the prospect of another grilling from Andrew Rosindell and the rest of the “British-Liechtenstein All-Party Parliamentary Group”.
But presumably there is more to the relationship between offshore and the British political class than occasional parliamentary visits. After all, a lot of politicians used to work in banking and associated trades. Many more look forward to doing so later in their careers. Only full disclosure can dispel the growing sense that politicians have become detached from the country they are supposed to serve, and are loyal instead to the imperial empire of offshore finance.
The Register of Members’ Financial Interests “is not intended to be an indicator of a member’s personal wealth”. Perhaps that’s reasonable, although it is worth noting that the salary of £65,738 puts MPs in the top five per cent of UK wage earners; by most people’s standards, all MPs are rich. But the use of offshore resources to minimise tax is different in kind from the mere fact of wealth. It is a benefit that depends on very particular policies. It is a fact that the British government is “committed to a G20 plan to put an end to banking secrecy, yet we have no idea if our leaders have a stake in keeping effective regulation at bay. Any register of financial interests must include information about any interest at all politicians have in tax havens. The current situation manages to be both sinister and farcical. We would be happy to help parliament draft sensible guidelines”.
Critics of the government are right. Arguments can be made in favour of the current arrangements. But if those defending the status quo derive material benefits from it, then these benefits cannot remain effectively secret. Without transparency there can be no accountability, as the register itself acknowledges. Only full disclosure can dispel the growing sense that politicians have become detached from the country they are supposed to serve, and are loyal instead to the immaterial empire of offshore. If the prime minister and other politicians want to keep one foot in Panama City then that is their business. But it is something the rest of us are entitled to know. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201242611931801956.html
“Britain wants London to become a leading centre for off-shore trading in Chinese renminbi to help boost the economy”, Chancellor George Osborne said. Speaking after HSBC launched the first-ever renminbi(or yuan) denominated bond in London, Osborne said “the city’s pre-eminence in foreign exchange and bond issuance means it is well placed to serve as a hub for Chinese banks that want to do business in the west”. “It is the ambition of the British government to make London a western hub for the sector – with all the benefits that this will bring to our own economy,” Osborne said in a speech.
Osborne’s comments came after HSBC Holdings Plc said it planned to launch a 3-year renminbi (RMB) bond. “This is a significant moment,” Osborne said. “This builds on the progress London has already made toward becoming the western hub for RMB,” he added.
A report by the City of London Corporation published overnight showed that customer and interbank yuan, or renminbi deposits in London total 109 billion yuan. The city is working with major banks to boost London as an off-shore yuan trading centre, building on an initiative by Britain and Hong Kong to co-operate on off-shore yuan trading.
London represents 26 percent of the global offshore spot foreign exchange market in renminbi. London and other financial centres such as Singapore are seeking to capitalise on the rapid growth of the off-shore yuan bond market in Hong Kong since its launch less than two years ago, as investors aim to put their yuan deposits to work by buying high-yielding yuan bonds. Borrowers have included international companies such as Tesco and McDonalds as well as international banks. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/04/18/uk-britain-china-renminbi-idUKBRE83H09520120418
20 April 2012: David Cameron’s family fortune – Blairmore Holdings Inc – the Jersey, Panama and Geneva tax haven connection Offshore venture
At the heart of a stunning 50-acre estate by the banks of the river Deveron in Aberdeenshire sits the granite-clad Victorian mansion Blairmore House, home to four generations of the prime minister’s family. Built in the 1880s by Alex Geddes, a Scotsman who became known as the Chicago grain king, the estate holds decades of David Cameron’s family history. The union of the Geddes and Cameron families was celebrated in the grounds in 1905, and the nearby chapel remembers forebears killed in the first world war. David’s father, Ian Donald Cameron, was born in 1932 at Blairmore House. But soon after that, the old place was sold.
So it was perhaps for sentimental reasons that the offshore fund Ian Cameron helped to establish in the tax haven of Panama shares the name. Blairmore Holdings Inc, just like Blairmore House, is a monument to wealth obtained overseas. The family’s banking history goes back even further, to the 1860s, when Sir Ewen Cameron joined the industry. He later helped the Rothschild banking dynasty sell war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war. While at Panmure Gordon, Ian was a bond specialist too, showing determination to overcome his physical disability – he was born with deformed legs – and make partner at the firm by the age of 30.
David Cameron’s father ran a network of offshore investment funds to help build the family fortune that paid for the prime minister’s inheritance, the Guardian can reveal. Though entirely legal, the funds were set up in tax havens such as Panama City and Geneva, and explicitly boasted of their ability to remain outside UK tax jurisdiction. At the time of his death in late 2010, Ian Cameron left a fortune of £2.74m in his will, from which David Cameron received the sum of £300,000.
Cameron and other cabinet members have recently suggested that they would be willing to disclose their personal tax filings amid growing scrutiny following the budget, but this would only shed light on annual sources of income rather than accumulated wealth or inheritance. Blairmore Holdings, meanwhile, continues to go from strength to strength. According to the company’s own listing with the Financial Times, the value of the fund’s investments has increased by 8.5% in the last three years.
The structure employed by Cameron senior is now commonplace among modern hedge funds, which argue that offshore status can help attract international investors. UK residents would ordinarily have to pay tax on any profits they repatriated, and there is nothing to suggest the Camerons did not. Nevertheless, the dramatic growth of such offshore financial activity has raised concerns that national tax authorities are struggling to pin down the world’s super-rich.
Ian Cameron took advantage of a new climate of investment after all capital controls were abolished in 1979, making it legal to take any sum of money out of the country without it being taxed or controlled by the UK government. Not long after the change, brought in by Margaret Thatcher after her first month in power, Ian Cameron began setting up and directing investment funds in tax havens around the world. Leaving his full-time role as a City stockbroker, Ian Cameron went on to act as chairman of Close International Asset management, a multimillion-pound investment fund based in Jersey; as a senior director of Blairmore Holdings Inc, registered in Panama City and currently worth £25m; and he was also a shareholder in Blairmore Asset Management based in Geneva.
However, the family will – a public document seen by the Guardian – only details the assets of Ian Cameron’s estate in England and Wales. Offshore investments would only be listed in submissions to HMRC for inheritance tax purposes. It is unclear what those assets – if any – are worth and which family member owns them. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/interactive/2012/apr/20/ian-cameron-will
In 2009 the compilers of the Sunday Times Rich List estimated Ian Cameron’s wealth at £10m. He was survived by his wife, Mary Fleur Cameron, who as his spouse would not have had to pay inheritance tax on sums transferred between them. In 2006 Ian’s eldest son, Alexander, became the sole owner of the family’s £2.5m house in Newbury, Berkshire, where David had been brought up. Another family home in Kensington, London, worth £1m, passed to his two daughters in equal share. Cameron’s father was “instrumental” in setting up the Panamanian company, Blairmore Holdings, in 1982, which was exempt from UK tax, when David was a pupil at Eton aged 16. The fund shares its name with the family’s ancestral home in Aberdeenshire, Blairmore House, in which Ian Cameron was born in 1932 but which the family no longer owns.
A lengthy prospectus for Blairmore Holdings written in 2006 and meant to attract high net worth “sophisticated” investors, with at least $100,000 to buy shares, is explicit about how the fund sought to avoid UK tax. At the time more than half of the fund’s 11 directors were UK nationals. http://globaldocuments.morningstar.com/documentlibrary/Document/ec3dcb9ffb02c630042fa1ac2c7d56de.msdoc/original
Under Panamanian law the fund was excluded from taxation derived from other parts of the world. “The fund is not liable to taxation on its income or capital gains as long as such income or capital gains are not derived from sources allocated within the territory of the Republic of Panama,” the 2006 prospectus reads. “The Directors intend that the affairs on the Fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for UK taxation purposes. Accordingly … the Fund will not be subject to United Kingdom corporation tax or income tax on its profits,” the prospectus continues.
The investor document also credits Ian Cameron as a founder member of Blairmore Holdings and states that as an adviser he would be paid $20,000 a year – the highest paid director – whatever profits were realised. In fact, the long-term Panamanian investment fund performed above market rate over many years averaging a 116% return from 2002-2007. Today many of the fund’s largest holdings are in blue-chip stocks such as Apple, Unilever and Coca Cola.
Before his death, aged 77, Ian Cameron was also chairman and shareholder of Close International Equity Growth Fund Ltd, registered in Jersey and worth £9m according to papers filed in 2005. In that year just under half of the fund’s holdings were in UK listed stocks. A third fund set up in Geneva, Switzerland, had a shorter life span and finally dissolved in 2007 but had many of the same registered shareholders as the Panamanian outfit. These included a number of former employees of Panmure Gordon, the stockbroking firm where Ian Cameron spent much of his career and those from Smith and Williamson investment management where Cameron senior was a consultant.
One notable investor into the Panama fund was a charity established by Tory peer Lord Vinson. Accounts from 2009 show that a charitable trust set up under his own name invested £82,000 into the fund – almost one quarter of its investments in shares. Vinson’s trust that year went on to donate tens of thousands of pounds to right-wing think tanks including the Institute of Economic Affairs and Civitas. Both Close International and Blairmore Holdings are also listed in accounts of a clutch of Church of England charities and family trusts whose funds are managed by Smith & Williamson
David Cameron has recently remarked on companies who have taken advantage of offshoring to legally avoid tax. Speaking at the start of the year to small business leaders in Maidenhead, he said: “With the large companies, that have the fancy corporate lawyers and the rest of it, I think we need a tougher approach. “One of the things that we are going to be looking at this year is whether there should be a general anti-avoidance power that HMRC can use, particularly with very wealthy individuals and with the bigger companies, to make sure they pay their fair share.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16422437
The row also comes as the top rate of tax was lowered in last month’s budget from 50p to 45p and the rate of corporation tax continue to drop to achieve the chancellor’s ambition of giving the UK one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in the G7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12834127
Responding to opposition criticisms over the lowering of the top tax rate, Cameron said: “The cut in the 50p tax rate is going to be paid five times over by the richest people in our country.” Downing Street said it did not want to comment on what was a private matter for the Cameron family. A spokesperson added: “The government’s tax reforms are about making sure that some of the richest people in the country pay a decent share of income tax.” The investment managers Smith and Williamson, for whom Ian Cameron worked, chose not to comment. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/interactive/2012/apr/20/ian-cameron-will
See also my earlier post about the Liberal Democratic Party funding