Socialist Worker

King-sized flats lying empty as owners bask in tax havens

Issue No. 2347

All rise graphic

Who lives in London’s most expensive apartments? One thing that’s for sure is that they don’t want you to find out.

We’re not just talking about the slats on the windows. Or the glass lift that takes residents inside without ever having to leave their car. Or even the bowler hat wearing doormen who were trained by special forces.

The huge flats at One Hyde Park smashed records for price per square foot when they came on sale in 2007.

They are more than 200 feet long and decorated in oak, ebony, marble and silk, with plenty of statues and chandeliers. And they sell for up to £140 million.

Most of the flats are empty much of the time. But 76 of the 80 apartments have now been sold. There were 86, but some buyers found them too poky and knocked two through into one.

Only 12 of them are registered to actual human beings—and one of those is Christian Candy, the former commodities trader who had the place built with cash from Qatar’s prime minister.

The rest are owned through obscure corporations. All but three of them are in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Liechtenstein or the Isle of Man.

So at least many of the absent owners have somewhere tropical to spend their time.

You’d be forgiven for thinking these people weren’t so keen on transparency. Which is ironic really—because all their mail is X-rayed before being delivered.


We won’t miss David Miliband now he’s finally jetting off into the sunset.

Before he was demoted to raking in the cash on the lecture circuit, Miliband was Gordon Brown’s minister for torture. 

When not busy authorising new torture he was covering up old torture.

He’s now off to International Rescue. Does this mean Tracy Island is about to become the next Guantanamo Bay?


lIs there really no money for action to reduce carbon emissions and stop global warming? Maybe we should look a bit harder.

The world pays £1.3 trillion in oil subsidies every year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

This free cash boosts the oil companies’ monster profits—and keeps them polluting.


Expenses from mum for whining Tory MP

Lincolnshire Tory MP Karl McCartney is outraged at the clampdown on his expenses. He says it’s so harsh, he’s had to borrow £25,000 from his parents.

McCartney has been quite open about feeling entitled to huge sums of free money. He has said his £66,000 salary was “far from consummate” with what he deserved.

He’s had to say sorry to the IPSA expenses watchdog for writing “abusive and offensive” messages on his claim forms.

Now he thinks they’re out to “screw MPs into the ground.”

But if that’s what he calls over £100,000 of pay and expenses, then we wonder what McCartney thinks the Tories are doing to benefit claimants and public sector workers?


Basildon council in Essex has been sent a £4.3 million bill for having traveller families thrown out of their homes at Dale Farm in 2011.

Council leader Tony Ball now demands the travellers stump up the cash for their own evictions—or he’ll seize even more land.


Guess who’s off to ‘reform’ Bahrain?

Fans of democracy in Bahrain are in for a treat this weekend.

The University of Bahrain is hosting a conference on “reform”.

The regime’s official news agency says it will “project the true internal situation in Bahrain”. 

So don’t expect it to dwell on the killing, jailing and torture of protesters.

It’s backed by the same right wing US thinktanks that led the lobbying for the invasion of Iraq.

One keynote speaker is gun-toting columnist John Bolton—formerly George W Bush’s loyal ambassador to the United Nations.

Another is dodgy Tory Liam Fox. 

He probably does have a thing or two to teach Bahrain’s regime.

Such as always making sure to have someone else there to do your dirty deeds for you. 


BONUS OF THE WEEK

£5 million: Sam Laidlaw, gas giant

  • British Gas bills up this winter? Now you know where the cash went!
  • Its parent firm Centrica gave £16 million in perks to five of its top bosses
  • Laidlaw already sat on a £9 million share mountain

MYTH OF THE WEEK

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt says nurses need to ‘care’ more

  • Nurses say their main difficulty is stress—and every cut makes it worse
  • Some 6,000 nursing jobs have already gone since 2010 and up to 60,000 could be at risk
  • Hunt slashed the NHS pay scheme and capped wage rises below inflation

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Article information

The Troublemaker
Fri 5 Apr 2013, 16:02 BST
Issue No. 2347
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