Pandora Papers – another entirely trivial exercise

Ah well, they’ll keep trying, won’t they?

Revealed: Pandora papers unmask owners of offshore-held UK property worth £4bn

£4 billion!

And UK property wealth is around £5 trillion.

To a rough estimate there’s naughty happening with 0.1% of the system. Which is, for government work, pretty good actually…..

19 thoughts on “Pandora Papers – another entirely trivial exercise”

  1. I have to say, if these cunts are ripping off even so little as a quid while making the rest of us abide by the rules they write, and jailing people who don’t, and raising taxes to cover whatever shortfall they avoided on that £4 billion, then more power to the Guardian’s elbow. Not something I often say.

  2. They seem to have uncovered very little that’s actually ‘naughty’.

    The biggest outrage seems to be that rich people can hold property ‘secretly’. Given the hysterical caterwauling from the media about this, can you blame anyone for wanting to keep their personal affairs secret? So long as they aren’t keeping it secret from the taxman who cares?

  3. All the coverage of this ‘scandal’ is laced with phrases like “perfectly legal” and “there is no suggestion of wrongdoing”. I’ve not seen any suggestion that any of the measures revealed are illegal in any way. Most of them – buying a commercial property via a SPV for example – are not even unusual.

    The thing is that, the people who leak this stuff want a furore created, driven essentially by jealousy and misplaced anger*, which will lead to a crackdown on offshore jurisdictions etc. If anything happens (unlikely) there’ll be ways round it discovered immediately. Pandora’s People stay rich. However, the atmosphere will encourage more legislation to ensure the state knows all about your finances and gets its hand further in your pocket.

    *eg Blair was a fucking ruinous PM. The fact that he’s legally dodged £300k in stamp duty means fuck all. If he’d stayed at home drinking the blood of a newborn every now and then, instead of being in office, he’d have done less harm.

  4. The whole thing looks like a huge distraction. “Trusted journalists” eg BBC and Grauniad; funding from Soros’ Open Foundation among other reliably lefty organisations: what aren’t we supposed to see?

  5. Even the Great Potato seems to agree:

    “I have not given the so-called Pandora Papers that are exciting some of the media and the tax justice movement much attention. There are a number of reasons for that.”

    Probably because none of his previous platforms seem to be asking the great man for comments these days, let alone allowing him to appear on TV.

    He’s left with only a column in The National to keep his insatiable ego fed.

  6. A double act from the BBC and the Guardian. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the Tory conference. There’s Raab promising to deport immigrant rapists, but never mind about that when there are some greedy rich people over there.

  7. On the Blair avoidance of stamp duty, could any of the accounting types on here confirm whether he could actually have ever paid stamp duty on that building, assuming a) he wanted that particular one and b) the vendor refused to sell it by any method other than by selling the whole company? It seems to me there is no way that particular deal could legally be done that actually include him paying the extra tax.

    For example, as a very small comparison, I bought a 4×4 vehicle that was first registered before March 2006, and thus its annual road tax is lower by about £200 than an identical vehicle registered after March 2006. Am I avoiding tax? There’s no way I could have bought that particular vehicle (which fitted my needs in age, condition, location etc) that would allow me to pay more, so how could it be consider avoidance?

  8. The Left view is that if we actually knew just how rich the evil rich are, we’d hate them even more, and finally join them in overthrowing capitalism. In practice that doesn’t work – look at Norway where tax returns are public, but the Revolution hasn’t happened.

  9. Most of the data revealed is of interest only to the envious and ignorant, and nothing I have yet read revealing any illegality (there are suggestions that unnamed individuals have breached the requirements to reveal beneficial ownership of shell companies but no actual facts to support them).
    So the headlines are that someone who gave some money to the Tories was innocently connected to someone else who is *accused* – but not proven – of doing something fraudulent. To demonstrate “balance” the BBC mentions that the Blairs bought a building whose previous owner had set up a legal tax avoidance scheme. No mention of the £ms that public sector unions pay the Labour Party in order to obtain pay rises far in excess of inflation for their members!!
    The foreign investment by the Kenyattas is perfectly legal – unlike the means by which the President’s father gained power and the £millions which his widow invested abroad where she thought it would be safe from his opponents. Why do “Investigative Journalists” never investigate the way that populist politicians acquire their money rather than how they invest it?

  10. We need better words than million, billion, and trillion. (What was wrong with “thousand million”, by the way?) To most people, it just goes:

    £1 million = a lot of money
    £1 billion = a lot of money
    £1 trillion = a lot of money.

    So a millionaire is basically the same as a billionaire, and nicking a bit more of their money must surely pay for a budget of trillions. Right?

  11. Starfish is going to be disappointed. Evasion is the little guy forgetting to include a couple thousand off accounts income or inflating some losses. The cajillionaires have phalanxes of accountants and attorneys to properly wade through the tax laws and regulations to avoid paying a farthing more than required and to argue in court that the farthing was improperly assessed by the tax authorities. (Notwithstanding the million pounds spent defending the idea in court)>

  12. @Sam Duncan – to give a sense of the scale of millions, billions and trillions this might help.

    A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years. A trillion seconds is 31,688 years.

  13. @SadButMadLad: A more colourful set.

    A million seconds ~= a fortnight
    A billion seconds ~= half an average (Western) lifetime, or, time since the Berlin Wall fell.
    A trillion seconds ~= twice the time since the cave paintings in Lascaux were made.

    @Sam Duncan:
    I’ve seen that nomenclature. I think it would be confusing – is there a million billion before a trillion, or is it just a thousand billion and then a trillion? Changing the name every 3 digits at least is consistent, even though it means that we need more names to handle all the bits we use.

  14. We used to have a perfectly cromulent word for a thousand million – a milliard. Harold Wilson abolished it in favour of the brain-dead US nomenclature. The continentals still use milliard (Bill Gates is un milliardaire), so there a billion is a million million, as logic would suggest it should be.

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