THE SECRET hidden world of the mega rich, giant corporations, hedge funds, politicians, heads of State and the Queen has had the spotlight thrown on how they hide and protect their huge fortunes from the laws that govern ordinary people.
The light has come with the release of the Paradise Papers, 13.4 million secret files from the law firm Appleby, a legal firm based in Bermuda, the Isle of Man and other tax ‘havens’ and which specialises in advising companies and individuals on how to set up companies and trusts in countries with zero or low tax rates and which guarantee high levels of financial confidentiality.
The Paradise Papers are a trove of secret information leaked initially to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which includes the BBC and Guardian newspaper.
The small amount of information revealed so far exposes the fact that the estate of Queen Elizabeth has secretly invested £10 million of her private money in offshore accounts. The Duchy of Lancaster, which manages the Queen’s £500 million private estate providing her with an income, had funds in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
These funds have never been previously disclosed in the official Royal accounts. Some of this £10 million has gone into investing in such regal enterprises as the Threshers chain of off-licences, which went bust owing £17.5 million in tax and which cost 6,000 workers their jobs.
Another investment is in the rent-to-buy retailer BrightHouse. BrightHouse rents TVs, washing machines and other expensive goods and charges up to 99.9% interest. Last month the company was ordered to pay out £14.8 million in compensation to customers after the City watchdog ruled it was not a ‘responsible lender’ and it was accused of ‘predatory’ tactics.
Of course companies that make their profit out of the poor are seen as a good investment for the Queen, anything to keep the Royal parasites in luxury, and who cares if working class families find themselves drowning in debt and facing eviction.
The other big name in British politics to emerge so far is Lord Ashcroft, the multi-millionaire former Tory party deputy chairman and massive donor to the Tory cause. According to the BBC, the leaked documents indicate that he ‘remained a non-dom, and continued to avoid tax despite attempts by Parliament to make peers pay their full share’.
The Paradise Papers show that Ashcroft was domiciled for tax purposes in Belize at a time when he was reported to have given up the status and was now domiciled in Britain and therefore liable to UK taxation.
Viewers of Sunday night’s BBC Panorama programme will have witnessed the sight of this Tory lord hiding in the toilets at the recent Tory party conference in order to evade a journalist questioning him on his tax arrangements.
Of course it must be stressed that none of these activities are illegal – perish the thought. It is perfectly legal for the capitalist class to avoid paying taxes, after all they wrote the laws that say it is perfectly OK and they spend a fortune on lawyers to prove it is legal.
The same class and their tame Tory government also makes it perfectly legal for working class families to be cut off from their benefit entitlements for weeks and months and forced to live on fresh air or throw themselves on the mercy of the loan sharks.
It is also perfectly legal for land and buildings belonging to the public for use by the NHS to be sold off to speculators who will then legally put their massive profits in offshore accounts and legally avoid taxes.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the revelations by saying that the next Labour government will ‘clamp down on tax havens’ and end the ‘loopholes’. This is pathetic. There is only one way to clamp down on the capitalist class and that is to abolish the lot of them through socialist revolution. Only by bringing down the Tories and advancing to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses, bankers and hedge fund speculators as part of a socialist society can this ‘legal’ thievery be abolished.