October 2013

28
Oct
2013
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Gatwick Airport, ports, M6 Toll Road, Channel Tunnel rail link (HS1) accused of 'outrageous' tax avoidance

The costly Channel Tunnel rail link, Gatwick Airport and the disastrous M6 toll road are amongst the transport companies using a legal tax avoidance scheme which allows them to avoid millions in tax.

The revelations are the fifth part of a joint investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent into the misuse of the quoted Eurobond exemption. Companies cut their UK taxable income by racking up interest on debt from their owners via the Channel Island Stock Exchange, then send the interest out of the UK tax-free. Without the exemption, 20 per cent of the payments could be deducted by HMRC, minimising the overall tax saving.


28
Oct
2013
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The other energy scandal - power giants use loophole to cut their own tax bills

Scotia Gas, 50 per cent of which is owned by SSE, the energy giant which is about to put its prices up by more than 8 per cent, has avoided an estimated £72.5m in tax. UK Power Networks and Electricity North West, responsible for running large sections of Britain's electricity network, have both saved more than £30m.


28
Oct
2013
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Sub-prime lender Swift Group, PHS and Moto also using loophole to avoid tax

A sub-prime mortgage lender that was threatened with having its licence revoked by regulators after targeting customers who couldn’t pay back its loans has saved millions using a legal tax avoidance scheme.

 

Swift Group, which has £339m worth of loans to Britons, has avoided an estimated £74m in UK corporation tax since 2008 after racking up interest of £274m on loans it has taken from its private equity owners.

A joint investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent has also found Moto service stations and hygiene giant PHS, which provides hand-dryers, artificial plants and other workplace equipment, to be among the many companies using the scheme, which is estimated to be costing the Exchequer at least £500m a year.


28
Oct
2013
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Birds Eye, Carling, McVitie's avoiding millions of pounds in tax

 

The companies are: United Biscuits, which owns major brands including McVitie’s, Penguin, Jaffa Cakes and Twiglets; Molson Coors, whose beers include Carling, Coors, Cobra and Miller; and Iglo Foods, which owns Birds Eye.


28
Oct
2013
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Eurobonds scandal: The high street giants avoiding millions in tax

In the third part of our investigation into the biggest corporations in Britain, we turn to the stores that dominate our town centres. Many of Britain's best-known high street chains are avoiding millions of pounds in tax through the controversial Eurobonds scheme.

Food chains including Nando's, Pizza Express, Café Rouge, Strada and Pret A Manger have cut their taxable profits by borrowing from their owners through the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. High street retailers doing the same include BHS, the electronics retailer Maplin, Office and Pets At Home. The revelations form the third part of an investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent into major UK companies using the quoted Eurobond exemption, a regulatory loophole the Government knows about but has decided not to close.


28
Oct
2013
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How it works: the quoted Eurobond dodge explained

In 1984 the Government introduced the “quoted Eurobond exemption”, a little-known regulatory loophole intended to make UK companies more attractive to foreign lenders looking to minimise their tax bills.

When a UK company pays interest to an overseas lender it would usually have to send 20 per cent straight to HMRC. The exemption allowed banks and other investors to receive the interest without the deduction if they lent their money through a “recognised” stock exchange such as the Channel Islands or the Cayman Islands. Almost 30 years on, the tax benefits are being enjoyed not only by third-party investors, but by the owners of UK companies, who are using it to spirit profits through tax havens, while minimising – sometimes eliminating – the company’s UK tax bill.


28
Oct
2013
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HMRC 'particularly feeble' over failure to close loophole

A consultation in March 2012 proposed limiting the use of the quoted Eurobond exemption, which is being used for tax avoidance by a range of UK companies. But after being bombarded with submissions from financial firms, companies using the legal loophole and major accountancy firms, HMRC decided not to take the proposals forward last October.

HMRC estimated the Exchequer was losing £200m a year due to use of the exemption. However, listings on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and UK accounts registered at Companies House suggest this was a serious underestimate.


28
Oct
2013
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Jackpot: Camelot avoided £10m in tax from lottery - thanks to Canadian teachers

Camelot, the company behind the National Lottery, has avoided millions of pounds in corporation tax by exploiting a legal loophole that HMRC failed to close.

 

 

The company saved an estimated £10m in tax in the last two years through interest on loans taken from its Canadian owner via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange. Its owner is one of Canada’s largest pension plans, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board. The revelation comes as the National Lottery has doubled the price of its tickets to £2.


28
Oct
2013
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Firms running NHS care services avoiding millions in tax

 

Companies receiving lucrative government contracts to run care services looking after tens of thousands of vulnerable people are avoiding millions of pounds in tax through a legal loophole.

The firms are cutting their taxable UK profits by taking high-interest loans from their owners through the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, an investigation by Corporate Watch and The Independent has found. By racking up large interest payments to their parent companies, they are able to reduce their bottom line and cut their tax bills.


24
Oct
2013
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Research in Gaza, November 2013

The Israeli siege of Gaza is perpetuated with the full complicity of international corporations. International arms companies supply the war planes and unmanned drones, bombs and missiles used to subjugate the population. The walls and fences around Gaza have been built with the help of international construction companies and are fortified by surveillance technology provided by the international electronics sector. The coast is patrolled by gunboats, armed with weapons supplied by international companies.


16
Oct
2013
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FOR SALE: Top UK riot cops. EXPORT: To war zones and dictators

Ineqe-logo

 

Duncan McCausland OBE, 53, and Gary White MBE, 49, took up directorships at Ineqe after retiring from senior positions in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – with McCausland pocketing half a million pounds in severance pay just before the Patten redundancy scheme closed in 2011.


10
Oct
2013
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Why Bethlehem industrial zone is struggling to find investors


10
Oct
2013
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Wonga's Swiss Wangle: payday lender moving money to tax haven

Payday loan firm Wonga has moved key parts of its business to the tax haven of Switzerland, potentially saving it millions in UK tax, an investigation by Corporate Watch has found.

Wonga – already under fire for "predatory” lending and "exorbitant" interest rates - has trademarked software and brand names with a Swiss subsidiary, which can charge Wonga's UK companies for their use. Wonga’s overall tax bill last year was £22 million and the potential savings are significant.

In the last few months of 2012, when the scheme was just getting started, Wonga sent £35 million of its UK revenues to Switzerland, which has a much lower tax rate than the UK.


02
Oct
2013
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John Deere and the exploitation of occupied land

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Signage on a packing house in the illegal settlement of Na'ama on the occupied Jordan Valley: 'When the great join hands -Amir + John Deere'. Photo: Corporate Watch, January 2013
John Deere (Deere and Company), the American manufacturer of agricultural machinery and irrigation equipment is partnering with Israeli companies which advertise John Deere equipment in a West Bank settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley.