Socialist Worker

Offshore buy-to-let minister avoids the taxing questions

Issue No. 2400

Know your spindoctor graphic

Tory MP Andrea Leadsom, the new City minister, used trusts to avoid tax.

The former Barclays banker, who was appointed to the Treasury by Chancellor George Osborne this month, placed her shares in her property company into offshore trusts for the benefit of her children.

Leadsom also obtained loans from the Jersey-based wealth management operation, secured against the buy-to-let properties.

Leadsom has overall responsibility for Osborne’s controversial Help to Buy property scheme.

Leadsom resigned as a director of Bandal in February just before she was promoted to the Treasury in the reshuffle. She was replaced by her 18-year-old son. 

Bandal’s offshore charges, to Kleinwort Benson (Channel Islands) Ltd, were also recently amended to the British branch of the investment bank. That was just before Leadsom got her ministerial post in charge of the City and financial regulation.

Osborne said last week, though not about his minister “A very important part of our economic plan is that everyone makes a fair contribution. 

“The message is very simple—if you’re hiding your money offshore, we are coming to get you.”

In 2003, Ms Leadsom and her husband Benjamin set up Bandal Ltd to invest in more than £1 million-worth of properties in Oxford and Surrey. 

In 2005, the couple transferred 24 percent of the shares to two trusts called the “Children’s Settlement”.


Friends in high places

A Tory crony of David Cameron put in charge of a £60 billion quango was fired after it was revealed that he was declared bankrupt for not paying his taxes.

Tony Caplin ran the prime minister’s family stockbroking firm and was Conservative Chief Operating Officer when Cameron became party leader. 

Cameron put him in charge of the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB). 

He was also given a four-year term in charge of the Medical Research Council.


Bare faced cheek

Former Tory treasurer and donor Michael Spencer has appeared in a video singing a song about being a stripper. The film, for charity—so that makes it ok—is based on bankers producing a version of the Full Monty.

But about bankers rather than unemployed Sheffield steel workers.

Spencer’s firm was fined £54 million for fiddling the inter-bank lending rate.


Supermarket healthcare

Hospitals were so busy last winter that staff advised patients to go to a supermarket for urgent medical treatment.

They were directed to an Asda-based walk-in centre in Hereford when staff shortages forced two minor injury units in Leominster and Ross-on-Wye to shut.


Canvassing during a gunfight over a cat

Nick Buckmaster, a Tory councillor, pointed a gun at his next door neighbour in a row over damage caused by a pet cat. 

Armed police swooped on him in Chingford, Essex after Buckmaster aimed an airgun at his neighbour shouting, “I know who you are. I know what you do. I know everything about you.”

Buckmaster pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Before sentencing on 16 May, Buckmaster has been ordered to stay out of the postcode E4—which will make campaigning for the local elections slightly 

difficult.


Speaking of expenses

Commons Speaker John Bercow has run up half a million pounds in office expenses in five years. 

Bercow got £495,592 for events, travel, clothes and other supplies since taking up the role in June 2009. 

This includes £100,000 on overseas jaunts and £26,000 in formal dresswear—with £3,700 spent on two suits. 

Then there is £2,400 on cleaning curtains.


£21 million to be near the takeaway

Are any Troublemaker readers looking to upsize, in estate agents’ parlance?

Then you’re in luck. A rare opportunity to buy in the opulent One Hyde Park development came on the market this week.

The three-bed flat is on the park side of the oligarchs’ favourite address in London, so would-be residents get “fabulous” views. And, as an added bonus, there are servants’ quarters.

“It’s handy for calling in catering from the Mandarin Oriental next door if you’ve just flown in from the Middle East and are a bit tired,” explains the estate agent.

The multimillion pound penthouse is “price on application”.

Elsewhere in the block a three-bed flat is up for £20.95 million.

But it’s been seven months, and no sale.  

The owner wants £6,000 per square foot.They paid around £4,000 per foot in 2008.


Medal for tax free shopping

An Olympic shopping centre paid 0.5 percent corporation tax on tens of millions of pounds.

Westfield donated more than £200,000 to the Tories. It moved nearly £60 million to offshore tax havens during the Olympic year.

Despite raking in £141 million in 2012, the accounts of a complex web of firms that built, own and manage a shopping centre in east London suggest they paid £211,893 corporation tax in Britain.


Prince’s bankrupt lobbying firm 

Since 1961, the Middle East Association has promoted British bosses’ interests to a rich seam of Qatari oil ministers and Saudi princes.

But no more. In a blow for David Cameron’s “Britain is open for business” mantra, the blue-blooded Mayfair institution recently went bankrupt, and is now in the hands of liquidators.

The Duke of York and his address book of gold?plated contacts assist the firm.

Happily, the body that boasts of “unrivalled private sector contacts” is expected to get a buyer soon.


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The Troublemaker
Tue 22 Apr 2014, 19:38 BST
Issue No. 2400
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