Several months after defending David Cameron’s involvement with a tax haven it emerges that Amber Rudd has tax avoiding connections of her own. Before entering parliament the rising Tory star was a director at two Bahamas based companies, Advanced Asset Allocation Fund and Advanced Asset Allocation Management.
Although the Bahamas is famous largely for its role as a tax haven, it’s listed by the EU as one of 30 uncooperative tax havens, it also has a lax regulatory environment. Rudd’s co-workers suggested it was this lack of regulation that encouraged them to set up these funds. “You could not set up these funds in England at the time.”
Of course, this raises the question of why such a fund might not be legal in England at the time. It also raises the question of why the Home Secretary thought it acceptable to become involved with something illegal in her own country. Surely the Government should trust its own laws?
Regardless, the two companies’ presence in the Bahamas obviously granted certain tax advantages; although there is no suggestion that Ms Rudd did benefit from these arrangements. Ms Rudd’s defence of Cameron “that he paid all tax due” may be true and also apply to herself. However we all know that there is a difference between tax that should be paid and tax that has to be paid. Especially where the rich are concerned.
Rudd has also formerly been a co-director at Monticello, a company investigated for share ramping. Share ramping is a practice by which a company artificially inflates a share price to generate a quick profit whilst leaving prospective buyers holding the cost. Manipulating the markets like this is illegal, but still common practice.
Rudd also spent time involved with two diamond prospecting companies. Diamond prospecting has a somewhat chequered history, largely to do with working conditions and cartel like behaviour. Her involvement is particularly worrying given the companies traded through the Vancouver Stock Exchange. The Exchange was shut down after a damning report concluded any success was overshadowed by “shams, swindles and market manipulations.” Manipulations like those Monticello was implicated in.
In fact one of Rudd’s fellow co-directors ended up serving time for fraud after his own manipulations were discovered. It seems the Home Secretary might wish to be more discerning in who she associates with.
Amber Rudd’s office has offered minimal comment but did point out “there was no secret that Amber had a career in business.” This is true. However directing funds in tax havens is hardly what many of us expect when we mean business. Moreover the sketchy nature of some of her business connections hardly make her the ethical business woman the statement implies.
It does imply something else though, that the Tories see such dodgy dealing as a typical act of doing business. The number of our politicians who see nothing wrong with tax avoidance because “legally” they had no obligation to pay anymore says a lot.
Each year through a mixture of evasion and avoidance the UK government loses over £100bn. For scale purposes this is around the size of the NHS annual budget. We lose out on tax equivalent to our greatest national achievement every year. No wonder the NHS is in crisis. Its funds are being stolen by the greedy and now it seems that the greedy are rewarded with power.
It seems only logical to propose a new rule: If you have avoided tax, you can’t claim taxpayer money as an MP.