Private Eye and Goldman Sachs

Anyone surprised that the Eye has screwed up on a tax story again?

8 thoughts on “Private Eye and Goldman Sachs”

  1. The Eye is a great magazine but can have some real blindspots about stuff – IIRC it championed the now-discredited Andrew Wakefield and its theories about Libyan innocence in the Lockerbie bombings were shown to the iffy when the Libyans ‘fessed up to involvement. On this one, Lord Gnome seems to have lapsed into taking dictation from our favourite retired Wandsworthian

  2. “In return for not taking their cases to court, these companies had not been charged interest.”

    Isn’t this the important bit? The others weren’t charged because they didn’t contest. GS did, so were charged. One can debate the fairness or legality of this, but the reason is there. Isn’t it like parking tickets being half the cost if paid within x days?

  3. In a quick calculation, I get interest from 1997 to be around £21.8m, and from 2005 around £9m.

    Throw in a cheeky million quid for penalties on each (say) and it does all seem to stack up as you guesstimate.

    But Rob seems to make the key point. If HMRC waived their right to interest (leaving aside whether they should have done so) to resolve the matter quickly.. then GS shouldn’t get the benefit after dragging it through the courts for six years.

    Whether or not any discounted settlement is fair *really* depends on the merits of the GS case. If all ther other banks paid up, and GS contested, then there was a reason.. and these things can hinge on delicate and complex issues. If HMRC believed, privately, that the GS case had merit, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to go through that process, but ultimately leave the original ‘offer’ on the table.

  4. I’ve looked at both Tim’s viewpoint and been following the Private Eye articles. In general, there appear to be too many ‘missing bits’ of information to be able to make an informed view.

    HMRC quoting chapter and verse about tax evader… sorry… tax payer confidentiality may well be true, but it just makes Dave Hairnet look like he’s running a cover-up.

  5. I’m on Rob’s side. If I’d run HMRC, I’d have offered “if you don’t argue, we don’t charge, but if you do argue, we charge you the lot and even ask the court to double it pour encourager…”.

  6. I think people are missing the point.

    It’s a settlement e.g. a deal to avoid further litigation. There’s no “fair” or “GS shouldn’t get the benefit”.

    It’s just about finding a number that satisfies HMRC when balanced against the desire to avoid further litigation (and the risk of being over-turned on the substantive point) and incentivises GS not to take a chance on a further round of hearings.

    Telling GS that HMRC will only settle for the maximum amount GS would pay if it lost in court is really stupid because there is then no incentive to avoid court.

    As a separate point, I will bet there are other GS/HMRC issues out there that impact on this settlement. These things are rarely stand alone

  7. Flatcap Army is right about Private Eye.

    When Paul Foot was involved his various crusades were treated as gospel- the innocence of Libya over Lockerbie, the innocence of James Hanratty- which given his membership of a totalitarian cult was unwise.

    If all the writers were names (or psuedonymed) we would have a clearly picture of their agenda and biases.

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