Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The pointy finger points

In an interesting article on Britain's favourite plutocrat, David Runciman notes that Branson "has always  been keen to point the finger at others whenever he has had the chance." So it's no surprise to see a man who "made his fortune out of the regulated parts of the economy, which he has milked to extract government subsidies, tax breaks, licensing agreements and protected income streams" deploying the pointy finger* to discredit a man whose support for the popular cause of rail renationalisation threatens to derail the gravy train that makes all those sunny days in pampered tax exile possible:
In 1971, when he was getting going in the music business, Branson was caught evading purchase tax in the UK. Since then he has been very careful about when he pays tax and to whom. He owns property in a wide variety of locations, though his primary base is his ‘holiday’ home on the island of Necker. His wish to avoid being taxed by the British government means he cannot spend more than ninety days a year in the UK. Given his peripatetic movements few other governments can lay a hand on him either. His businesses are registered under complex schemes across a range of different jurisdictions, including the Virgin Islands, where the holding company for Virgin Trains (very much a UK business) happens to be based. Branson has spent forty years denying he is a tax avoider and for the most part his reputation as a carefree spirit, partying his way around the globe, has trumped the idea that he is just another cautious plutocrat squirrelling away his wealth.

As always, he has been keen to point the finger at others whenever he has had the chance. 

* Not to mention probably breaking data protection law (hat tip).