Big news in the Guardian on David Cameron’s tax affairs:
David Cameron’s father sought legal advice on best tax havens
Did Ian Cameron, for it is he, seek advice from the same experts who advise the, er, Guardian? And isn’t seeking legal advice entirely sensible? We might not like schemes designed to cut tax bills, see them as “morally wrong” (source: Da. Cameron), but when did trying to stay on the right side of the law become a “revelation”?
In other news: corruption, Russian names, Chinese bigwigs, Middle Eastern despots and nutzoid amounts of cash squirrelled away in moves facilitated by London-based companies.
Ten faces on the Mirror’s cover. Simon Cowell (telly), Mark Thatcher (lost), El Chapo (pharmaceuticals), the Duchess of Windsor (choppers), Nick Faldo (Sir), Paul Burrell (ma’am), Willian (Chelsea), Jackie Chan (film), Andy Cole (Manchester United) and David Cameron (monster raving looney). All are part of the paper’s story on the Panama Papers, the massive haul of leaked documents that told us – shock of shocks – rich people don’t like paying tax.
You could add, of course, that poor people don’t much like paying them, either. But the poor don’t have link to off-shore tax havens. So they’re not news. And, indeed, you might wonder why these people are news because as early as paragraph two we’re told, “there is no suggestion of any illegality.”
Is this, then, a moral story? If it is, are we to suppose that these people are not allowed a private life? And if David Cameron is now “Dodgy Dave” because his late father Ian “pumped cash into tax haven” is Ed Miliband still Ed The Red, the son of a dead Marxist who”hated Britain”.”It’s hateful when you have your father targeted in that way, traduced in that way. There is no question about that,” said David Miliband, quoted in the Mirror. The paper called the Mail’s “smearing” of the dead man a “disgrace”. Is that still the case?
No. Because this is about money. We want to bash the rich, blame them for hurting the country. But there’s that pesky thing of nothing being illegal about any of it. It’s all legal. So can it be immoral to invest your money overseas? Labour MP Jess Phillips, quoted in the Express, says “the sins of Daddy Cameron were not illegal but they were utterly disgusting”.
Sins. Who made her a priest? Why bring god into it? She sounds so small-minded and provincial. Isn’t her job to come up with ideas for making an economy the rich would want to invest in? And can we move on about the Panama Papers being about tax avoidance. Too dull. We want to read about corruption. That’s the juicy stuff.
You’ve heard news of the Panama Papers. The Guardian is hot for them:
In the files we have found evidence of Russian banks providing slush funds for President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle; assets belonging to 12 country leaders, including the leaders of Iceland, Pakistan and Ukraine; companies connected to more than 140 senior politicians, their friends and relatives, and to some 22 people subject to sanctions for supporting regimes in North Korea, Syria, Russia and Zimbabwe; the proceeds of crimes, including Britain’s infamous Brink’s-Mat gold robbery; and enough art hidden in private collections to fill a public gallery.
Can it be that the corrupt are corrupt? As the Guardian studiously ignores its own off-shore tax arrangements, the Mirror leads with David’s Cameron’s link to the Panama Papers. It asks: “So, do you STILL have family money stashed in a secret offshore tax haven, Prime Minister?” To which you might asks, “Does the Mirror have any investigative journalists or is it all clickbait?”
Before more on Cameron, a few words on the source. The 11.5 million documents were leaked by someone at Panama-based law company Mossack Fonseca, and shared with more than 370 journalists affiliated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The ICIJ is the watchdog journalism branch of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative group.
Founded in 1977, Mossack Fonseca is headquartered in Panama but has a presence in dozens of countries including known tax havens such as Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles. It specializes in helping companies and individuals set up offshore, tax exempt entities, according to its website, and is reportedly the world’s fourth largest provider of such services. According to the Guardian, one of the two U.K. publications that partnered with the ICIJ in the investigation, one of the firm’s partners said in a leaked memorandum that “ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.”
Mossack Fonseca has strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying in an initial statement to ICIJ that it conducts “a thorough due-diligence process” before helping to incorporate companies. The company also provided a more detailed response, which can be read in full here.
The leak is the biggest in history, greater than the cache of documents released by Wikileaks, and contains information from 1977 to December 2015, including the details of 214,000 entities, such as trusts, foundations and shell companies that can be used to hide the true ownership of assets.
Back to Cameron. The Times also leads with the Cameron link. And it’s a good read:
Blairmore Holdings, set up by Ian Cameron [Dave’s dad] in 1982, held board meetings abroad and allegedly placed up to 50 Caribbean officers including a lay bishop in executive positions to legally avoid being taxed as a British company.
The Bahamas-based investment fund, which managed tens of millions of pounds on behalf of wealthy families, used anonymous “bearer shares” to shield its clients from public view, according to a data leak that has implicated world leaders, celebrities and businessmen in offshore tax avoidance.
Bearer shares can be used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion as they enable investors to hide ownership and transfer assets without a paper trail. The prime minister banned them last year and has called for an international crackdown on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion. Last night Mr Cameron said that his family’s tax affairs were a private matter. Downing Street would not be drawn on whether the Cameron family still had a stake in the fund.
The Mirror says they are not a private matter. Of course, what is and what is not private is far from being the Mirror’s special area of expertise, what with it being embroiled in phone hacking payouts for invading people’s privacy.
The row came after an unprecedented leak of 11.3 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. Jurisdictions such as Panama offer companies and individuals the chance to legally mitigate tax bills and maintain anonymity, but failure to declare assets to the taxman in their own country can be illegal.
The Mail leads with much the same, although early on it points out that Bearer shares are now banned in the UK. Over on Page 9, the Mail looks Putin’s “£1.4bn if shady deals”. To which cynics might say, ‘and the rest of them aren’t?’
It’s all murky stuff. But given the levels of secrecy and massive wealth, the cast of billionaires, celebrities and global leaders, what do we expect to be the result of it all?
Former BBC staffer and Newsnight journalist Paul Mason and Tory MP Ken Clarke are talking about the steel industry on BBC Newsnight. The one thing you can’t escape noticing is how often Mason gurns and interrupts. The other thing is that not so long ago Mason was presented to viewers as a unpartisan expert, Newsnight’sEconomics Editor giving it to us straight:
Terry Bollea, the retired pro wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, was awarded a total of $25m in punitive damages on Monday, in his invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media.
These damages come on top of the $115m already awarded to Hogan last week which concluded a nearly two-week trial in St Petersburg, Florida. There, jurors heard how Hogan, 62, had not been contacted by the website before it posted a nine-second video clip of the wrestler having sex with the wife of his friend, DJ Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem. Hogan has said he didn’t know he was being taped.
Gawker Media itself was hit with a $15m judgment, while its owner, Nick Denton, was personally ordered to pay $10m in damages.
Ouch. That’s one pricey / lucrative shag.
Turkel said Gawker Media’s gross revenues in 2015 were $48.7m and that founder Nick Denton has a total of $121m, including a $3.6m Manhattan condo. Gawker Media is worth $83m, the lawyers said.
How much of that $121m is tired up in Gawker stock? And with this hanging over the company, isn’t that same stock now worth a whole lot less?
How does new journalism work? Stephen Hull, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post UK, was talking with Steve Hewlett on Radio 4’s Media Show yesterday. He was asked why the website doesn’t pay for content. His answer is remarkable:
I’m not getting unpaid workers for a large corporation to suck them dry; I’m keeping you real, man.
What a visionary Hull is. To prove his dedication to a world free of filthy lucre still further, we can expect him to dispense with a salary, and give away the money he’s been paid to write during his time as Head of Content at Metro and with the London Olympics editorial team. He will then become authentic – a real journalist in this brave new age of opportunity.
Note: Hull reminds us that the HuffPost is no longer owned by minted socialite Arianna Huffington. She sold it for £300m. It’s now owned by Verizon, whose market cap stands at $202.5 billion. In March 2014, Bloomberg reported:
Verizon Communications Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lowell McAdam received $18.3 million in total compensation last year, a 16 percent increase. McAdam’s base salary was $1.58 million, $100,000 more than in 2013, his cash bonus fell to $3.8 million from $4.13 million, and his stock award jumped 28 percent to $12 million, the company said Monday in a regulatory filing.
But if McAdam were to decided on a new career in journalism at his own organ, surely he’d do it for free. Purity is all at the HuffPost.
When The Financial Timeswrote a few words on Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, the company’s marketing chief, Henry Gomez, was upset by the article’s tone. He threatened to stop placing he company’s ads with the newspaper, warning that “FT management should consider the impact of unacceptable biases on its relationships with advertisers.”
My piece was not biased and I fear you misunderstand our business model. It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are. It is why I want to go on working here. It is why the FT goes on paying me.
The Anorak Inbox features this plea: Nigerian Astronaut is lost in space needs $3Million to come home
Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA
Dear Mr. Sir,
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.
Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.
Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-2220 only.
Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
Arsenal raked in more cash from match-day activities last season than every other club in Europe. The Gunners took a whopping £101.6m, beating Real Madrid (#99.9m), Barcelona (#980m) and Manchester United (#87.8m).
Given that three other clubs directly behind Arsenal in the list of top earners all boast larger grounds, it’s clear that Arsenal are getting rich on having supporters willing to pay top whack for tickets and snacks.
The car’s the star in the tabloids. Manchester United players love a Bentley.
Daily Mail: “Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal arrives at favourite restaurant in a Bentley”
The car’s value is not stated.
Daily Mail, December 21: “Defender Chris Smalling rolls into Carrington in his sporty Bentley following United’s 2-1 defeat by Norwich on Saturday”
Not before the defeat. After it.
Daily Mirror, January 3: “Memphis Depay spotted in £250,000 Rolls Royce – hours after being slammed by Ruud Gullit”
Make the link. Can you? The Mirror seems to be suggesting that Depay is so upset at what Gullit said about him he’s downgraded his car. Depay risks being mocked by his Manchester United teammates for looking cheap. Right?
In other team news:
Daily Mail, January 5: “Like many of the most gifted players, Arnautovic is a mixture of raw ability, eccentricity and insecurity. He arrives at Stoke’s training ground from his Cheshire home every day in a personalised Bentley.”
In “Women peep in Utd loos”, the Sun reports on Marcus King, a man who claims that whilst working at Manchester United’s training ground he was spied on by three women. “He told a a tribunal he heard sniggering outside the disabled toilet when he sat on the loo.
The three women he alleges bullied him at work are all called…Sue.
The case of reverse nominative determinism continues.
Elizabeth Dickson has won damages from Playboy Enterprises for an incident at the Playboy Golf Finals at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry on March 30, 2012.
Dickson’s job was to act as novelty divot. Lying face down on the grass, her shorts shirt lipped down to help the golfer focus, the tee tucked between her taught buttocks, Playboy Morning Show host Kevin Klein stood over her and took aim.
Linsey McGoey has been writing about The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation for the Guardian. The article begins with a rather ghoulish view that the charity would be better were Gates dead:
Would the Gates Foundation do more good without Bill? Philanthropic organisations such as the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations have had greater flexibility since their founders died
As Gates wonders whether death would be helpful to his causes, McGoey looks at the living Bill Gates:
What the sociologist Darren Thiel and I term “charismatic advantage” is more than just celebrity pulling power; it is the way one of the most powerful organisations in the world largely escapes negative media attention because Gates has come to signify something sacred about ourselves.
It’s an advantage that Bill Gates did not strategically design, and in many ways, to his credit, he doesn’t necessarily cultivate. But it means that important critical debate doesn’t happen as openly as it should.
Good job the Guardian is there to peer inside and investigate Bill.
At a time when activists are challenging corporate clout, the Gates Foundation is enriching for-profit companies: it has offered tens of millions in non-repayable grants to wealthy corporations such as Mastercard and Vodacom.
We need to challenge this silence. We need loudly to ask an uncomfortable question: do foundations narrow wealth inequalities or simply preserve them? Are foundations at their most radical when they exist to serve a benefactor’s hopes and whims – or when they’re emancipated from such an obligation?
Former boy scouts, listen up. Your skills are needed. Tesco is hiring “Christmas Light Untanglers”. If you are “able to untangle 3 meters of Christmas lights in under three minutes” and are “passionate about Christmas”, you can spend your days elbow-deep in flex.
Your roles and responsiblities will include:
• Man and managing the Christmas Lights Untangling stand
• Taking time to listen and help out wherever you can: Every little helps
• Check lights and bulbs for signs of breakage / broken bulbs and report findings to the customer
• Handle customers Christmas lights carefully to keep everything in tip-top condition
• Talking to colleagues, sharing your enthusiasm and helping to create team spirit
• Getting to know your customers, greet them with a smile and serve them with pride.
• Give a brilliant customer experience, making sure you deliver only the best service and put a smile on customers faces
• Successfully untangle customers Christmas lights neatly, quickly and efficiently and in an orderly fashion
• Abide by our Health and Safety policies
• Always be there on time and properly presented
• Be passionate and knowledgeable about the service you are offering
Try not to slit your wrists. Those bulbs can be sharp! Also: strangling.
In the Anorak Inbox today, this missive form a desperate
A UK betting site has offered odds on which England football will come out as gay, following the news over the weekend that two Premier League footballers are set to do so. Players such as Luke Shaw, Daniel Sturridge and James Milner all appear in the low tier with odds of 10/1 or lower, whilst the likes of Joe Hart, Jordan Henderson and Wayne Rooney all appear at odds of 20/1 or lower.
More information can be found below, but please do get in touch if you require any further information.
Following the news over the weekend that two Premier League footballers (one of whom allegedly plays for England) are ready to come out as gay, a betting website based in the UK has become the first to offer customers the chance to bet on which footballers might do so. Visitors to the site can take a punt on which footballers they think will make the announcement; with the sportsmen split into low, medium and high tier odds according to the perceived likeliness of their involvement in a potential upcoming announcement.
The odds for different players vary according to likelihood, as judged by Win Cash Live’s trading team…
Speaking about offering odds on which footballers are likely to come out as gay, Ashley Faull (founder of www.WinCashLive.com), said the following:
“…there’s no denying that this is a very hot topic right now and we couldn’t see that any gambling sites were offering odds on which footballers will come out as gay, following the news and rumours over the weekend. We know that there is a lot of speculation and the public will want to see if they can guess correctly, so we’re offering them the chance to get a return on their inklings.”
You think you’ve reached rock bottom but there’s always someone with a new spade whose ready to dig….
For just £500 a month, you can live in a cupboard in Clapham, south London.
Alex Lomax, who travelled from Nottingham to view the property, says:
“There was a landlord and I was shown the kitchen and the under-stairs cupboard – he seemed deadly serious, which is the worrying part. He said, ‘You would be sharing with three others people’, and I just wanted to get out of there, so I made my excuses and left. I wish I’d been more angry because it’s clearly ridiculous and I’m annoyed at myself for basically just making my excuses.”
Sunderland FC striker Jermain Defoe is looking for a new executive personal assistant to keep his life in order. The role is “demanding“. You will take his calls, stock the fridge, build him apps and turn Jermain Defoe into a global brand with a clothing line and fragrance.
Arsenal director Philip Charles Harris, Baron Harris of Peckham, tells theDaily Mailthe Gunners are rich enough to buy almost any player in the world.
So why don’t they?
The story begins: “Arsene Wenger has more than £200m in the bank, says Arsenal director.”
“We would back him to break the club’s transfer record. If he wanted the man, he could have him,” says Harris (estimated wealth: £285m). “Apart from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he could have any player.”
Karim Benzema? Eden Hazard? Gareth Bale?
Arsenal’s most expensive recruits have been:
Mesut Ozil – Real Madrid, £42.4m, September 2013
Alexis Sanchez – Barcelona, £35m, July 2014
Andrey Arshavin – Zenit St Petersburg, £15m, February 2009
Santi Cazorla – Malaga, £15m, August 2012
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Southampton, £15m, August 2011
Undoubtedly Arsenal are spending more on players than ever before. But surely it’s fantasy to believe they have the same financial muscles as Manchester United, Real Madrid, PSG, Manchester City, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.
“Money was tight when we moved to the Emirates but it’s a lot freer now,” continues Lord Harris. “We could go into the market and probably buy any player in the world, apart from half a dozen who are unbuyable. We get a list of the players that Wenger wants. On the list is a centre forward, but I’m not going to tell you who he is.
“You’ve got to get the other team to want to sell him, but I think he wants to come. It basically comes down to whether the other team can find a superstar to replace him, because they don’t have to sell.”
So. Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema it is, then. Unless PSG, Chelsea, Man City, Man United etc. outbid the Gunners.
To Salzburg, Austria, where brothel keeper Hermann ‘Pascha’ Müller, owner of the licensed Pascha brothel, vows to no longer be “the tax office’s pimp”. So Müller is offering free sex at his houses of ill repute. He is, however, paying the prostitutes’ usual hourly rate “out of his own pocket”.
“In the last decade I have paid taxes of almost €5 million,” says Müller said. “The problem is, the tax office wants more and more, and they are not cracking down on illegal street and apartment prostitution.”
We wonder why Pascha doesn’t enlarge his BDSM business and invite masochists to pay his pax bill for him? After all, he’s already appealing to the every kind of pervert – including golfers: