Amyas Morse, Andrew Parks, blower, Customs, Dave Hartnett, David Gauke, deal, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, George, Gideon, Goldman Sachs, Guardian, High Court, hmrc, judge, Macfarlanes, Margaret Hodge, Mike Sivier, mikesivier, national audit office, Osborne, Osita Mba, Parliament, Revenue, smear, sweetheart, tax avoidance, Treasury, UK Uncut, Vox Political, whistle
You know something is wrong in the Treasury when the minister in charge of tax is revealed to have worked for a firm specialising in tax avoidance.
The wrongdoing goes off the scale when it is revealed that the same minister has been actively trying to gag a whistleblower who uncovered a “sweetheart” deal to write off a huge amount of tax owed to the UK by a private company.
That is precisely what we have learned today, thanks to The Guardian.
It seems that David Gauke, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, green-lit a plan to discredit testimony from Osita Mba, a solicitor with HM Revenue and Customs, after he took the notorious Goldman Sachs “sweetheart” deal to the public.
For those who don’t know about this, the deal with Goldman Sachs was worth up to £20 million, and was part of a series of four such settlements, with large companies, that netted £4.5 billion for the Treasury. That might seem like a lot of money.
But it begs the question, asked by Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs Parliament’s public accounts committee: How much did we not get?
One person who might know the answer is Mr Mba, who told two parliamentary committees that the then-head of tax, Dave Hartnett, had agreed a deal allowing Goldman Sachs, a US bank, to escape £20 million in interest charges, payable to the UK. He claimed Mr Hartnett had done this without following proper procedures.
Disciplinary proceedings were launched against Mr Mba within HMRC, meaning he was suspended from work, and an emailed exchange between an HMRC press officer and Gauke’s private secretary strongly suggest that the minister wanted to discredit the whistleblower with a media smear campaign.
From here, matters get very dodgy indeed.
The National Audit Office was asked to investigate the Goldman Sachs case, along with four others, and although Judge Andrew Parks’ report was not publicly released, the head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, told MPs that the deals had been cleared. Morse’s role was later questioned after a leaked document showed that he had told Hartnett the inquiry would find “nothing of substance” – before it began.
And it was revealed last Thursday – again by The Guardian, which appears to be living up to its name – that the deal with Goldman Sachs had been arranged partly to save our part-time Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Gideon 0sborne, from embarrassment.
It seems that the dispute with Goldman Sachs was settled hastily after the bank threatened to pull out of a new tax framework, a week after 0sborne had announced that the bank had signed up to it.
The revelation was made at the High Court last Wednesday, where UK Uncut was calling for a judgement to declare that the 2010 settlement between the bank and HMRC was unlawful. The court heard that Hartnett had personally overruled legal advice, the HMRC’s own guidelines and its internal review board over the issue (confirming Mr Mba’s claim).
So it was a cover-up, in order to allow a company to escape paying the UK a huge amount of money, with the blessing of ministers including 0sborne and Gauke.
In Gauke’s case, of course, this is unsurprising. It has long been known – as can be seen by this entry on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog – that the minister has not only avoided paying tax himself but also worked for Macfarlanes, a top city law firm that specialises in helping the wealthy avoid paying tax.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which has been passing through Parliament recently, includes a section intended to introduce greater protection for individuals from harassment when they blow the whistle at work.
In the light of the treatment of Mr Mba, by members of the government that has introduced this bill, it remains to be seen whether this measure was ever intended to succeed.
Ron Houghton said:
Bet he won’t get the sack, and all the stupids of South West Hertfordshire will vote for him again. I am sure the sheep vote for wolves in this country, will anyone wake and see this as corrupt Government..
It gives me note assure to have long held suspicions confirmed, in fact this makes me want to be sick !
guy fawkes said:
I will give Margaret Hodge her due, she does try to get to the bottom of evasive tactics and corruption – she’s like a little terrier – but fear trying to get to the bottom of tax evasion or ofshore bank accounts will cost the treasury more money on international paper chasing and increased tax inspectors.
Ghost Whistler said:
This cannot go on.
I believe Margaret Hodge is trying to put a stop ,to private companies,being used as advisors to HMRC and the Treasury,then useing the same regulations to advise clients how to avoid paying tax.
David von Geyer said:
Having put some effort into educating myself on this subject recently, including reading Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson, it’s clear that the oft used rotten apple analogy has developed into a rotten barrel where the barrel itself is now too corrupt to be of any further use.
As we need a new barrel, that would be a brave new entity, uncorrupt and pure, we should learn from what went wrong with the current barrel.
Basically the banking sector has colluded/bribed/cajoled and threatened our political system, with nary a tad of democracy involved, into accepting their questionable business practices. First they undermined “offshore” jurisdictions, then they proceeded to undermine “onshore” jurisdictions. The saddest part of this tragic history is that when the system collapsed, instead of setting up something new and brave, the PM “on watch” at the time (Gordon Brown) who wrote a book entitled Where There Is Greed, failed to seize the opportunity to restructure the system.
It seems clear to me that the barrel representing our political system is also corrupt beyond use therefore, in tandem, we need a new poltical “barrel” too.
The reason we have entered into this Kafkaesque world, where the obviously corrupt are feted by the media for their extravagance, is tghat we have a lack of democracy. There are about 200 countries including the likes of Andorra, San Morino and Liechtenstein. If you said there were 10 people on average in each of these countries/jurisdictions who you needed to nobble in order to control the world, that’s about 2,000 people. If you said it cost on average £10 million a head per year to nobble these folk, that’s £20 BILLION per annum – in order to dodge trillions in tax.
An Internet based system for direct democracy, where the public all got to debate policy and enact new legislation to rebalance society, and the economy in favour of the 99% (a system already exists that could be adapted http://www.jolitics.com) would be far harder to nobble.
guy fawkes said:
conscript the unemployed into batallions
More sex education – no doubt to reduce population
sounds like ukip to me.
David von Geyer said:
Hi again, I agree that Jolitics has some dubious people using it at the moment, I was pointing out that if we want a system that we could all use to debate policy and enact new legislation, it could be adapted. It was set up by Michael Birch who I have contacted regarding direct democracy via the Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Birch_(businessman)
jack johnson (@jackjoh01219520) said:
This evil ConDem government is a cesspit of corruption.
gra howard said:
We need an Elliot Ness and the Untouchables to clear out the gangsters in power.
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