Skip to content

Scams

Spuermarket Price Fixing

This is interesting:

Supermarket giant J Sainsbury has agreed to pay £26m to the Office of Fair Trading to settle a long-running investigation into the price fixing of milk, cheese and butter.

The OFT concluded in September that supermarkets including Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda has colluded to fix the prices of milk and cheese, costing shoppers an estimated £270m.

Naughty, naughty. However, the supermarkets themselves appear a little perplexed:

The OFT investigation has stunned supermarket executives, at the time of the alleged price fixing in 2002 supermarket depots were being blockaded by dairy farmers and they were under immense pressure from the government and the National Farmers\’ Union to raise milk prices to help alleviate stress within the farming and agriculture industry.

It is believed that in late 2002, following public declarations of support for the farming industry from leading retailers including Tesco, the milk processors began sharing details of other supermarkets\’ pricing policies with rival retailers.

In public and privately supermarket executives have expressed exasperation at the OFT probe, claiming they are being punished for trying to do the right thing for farmers.

So is that actually the truth here? The supermakets and the milk processors colluded to raise prices to the farmers, as everyone insisted that they should, and now they\’ve been fined for it? Anyone seen the report or know more?

You\’re Not Going To Like This But….

…I think we might actually have evidence that someone, somewhere, in the Labour Party actually has a brain. I know, hard to believe, but here\’s the story.

As Guido points out, the Abrahams donations were not permissible. They\’ve also not been declared for 30 days. Thus, under the rules brought in by the current bunch of dickheads Our Lords and Masters this money is not to be paid back to the donor. Rather, it is to be forfeit to the Treasury.

If Labour has already (as they have said they have) paid the money back to Abrahams then they\’ll have to either get him to send it to the Treasury of they\’ll need to find another £660,000 or so to hand over themselves.

And as they\’ve almost certainly already spent it (and they\’re £20 million in debt) you can see that this might be sort of a brown kecks type of time for them.

Then we have this piece by David Hencke this morning (flagged up by Iain). So what are we to make of that story? (I should point out that the only time I\’ve met David I came away with the impression that he\’s a thoroughly good bloke so I\’m not suggesting that he\’s in on the machinations I\’m about to suggest).

Note the following bits:

The arrangement, which was set up four years ago, was regarded as a "loophole" that allowed Abrahams to lawfully pay the money and remain unidentified.

It is understood that Labour officials were well aware that the arrangement exploited what they believed was a loophole in Labour\’s recently passed legislation, the 2000 Political Parties Act, so as not to reveal Abrahams\’ identity.

In the words of a Labour insider, the two officials were then "given the job of shepherding the cash", aware that the arrangement was technically legal, even though it went against the spirit of the legislation which is to ensure transparency for all donations to political parties.

He does go on to say that the Electoral Commission may well attempt to seize the cash: but what if the above is actually all true? "Lawfully", "loophole", "technically legal". In this case there is no right for the EC to do such a thing. They may have written the law badly, they may have crept around it, but if what they did is strictly legal then there\’s no way anyone can touch the money.

So is that going to be the defense? And if so, do we now have to infer that at least one person within the Labour Party actually has some brains? "We obeyed the law" is a pretty good legal defense, isn\’t it?

Ooooh, Naughty!

Within the law but not within the spirit of it perhaps?

Labour officials helped lawyers acting for David Abrahams to draw up complex covenants that allowed the millionaire businessman to pay up to £650,000 indirectly to the party, the Guardian has learned.

The arrangement, which was set up four years ago, was regarded as a "loophole" that allowed Abrahams to lawfully pay the money and remain unidentified.

Under the arrangement, Abrahams is said to have covenanted the money to his close associates and fellow company directors Janet Kidd, Ray Ruddick and McCarthy, the solicitor.

They then used the cash to donate to the Labour party in their own names. It is understood that Labour officials were well aware that the arrangement exploited what they believed was a loophole in Labour\’s recently passed legislation, the 2000 Political Parties Act, so as not to reveal Abrahams\’ identity.

In the words of a Labour insider, the two officials were then "given the job of shepherding the cash", aware that the arrangement was technically legal, even though it went against the spirit of the legislation which is to ensure transparency for all donations to political parties.

And the argument is that these people need to have more of our money, extorted from us through the tax system, so that they won\’t do such things ever again?

Oooh, Lovely, a Donations Scandal!

Now isn\’t this interesting?

The Electoral Commission has asked Labour to explain how David Abrahams was able to give almost £400,000 to the party without his name appearing on its register of donors as the law requires.

Mr Abrahams, a property developer, has admitted covertly donating money to Labour by giving it to two of his employees who then passed it the party.

Disclosure laws say anyone donating money to a party on behalf of someone else must declare that person\’s identity at the time.

Well, of course, it\’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, isn\’t it? So this £400,000 will in fact be forfeit to The Crown (in the form of the Treasury) just as that donation to UKIP was because the donor was not on the electoral register. Won\’t it….I mean of course it will. Who could doubt that there is a level playing field?

Mr Abrahams, the son of a former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, is a well-known figure in Labour circles, and attended Tony Blair\’s farewell speech in Sedgefield when he stepped down as Prime Minister in June.

He says he made the donations to Labour via Mr Ruddock and Ms Kidd because he did not want to attract publicity.

He said: "I\’m a member of the Labour Party and have been for about 40 years; since I was 15.

"I have always been fortunate enough to be able to make substantial donations to several charitable organisations as well as to the Labour Party for a number of years.

"But I am a very private person and I did not want to seek publicity.

"I gifted money to my friends and colleagues so they could make perfectly legal donations on my behalf.

"Donors to the Labour Party get a lot of publicity and I did not want that.\’"

Gifted Mr. Abrahams? Gifted did I hear you say? And I do hope that the appropriate gift taxes were declared and paid upon these transfers? As we all know, you\’re allowed to make gifts of up to £2,500 a year to a specific person, above that amount there\’s a suspicion that you might be avoiding inheritance tax as and when the time comes. So such gifts need to be registered (don\’t they?) so that the appropriate taper relief can be applied as and when you keel over.*

We wouldn\’t want to find out that you were in breach of tax law as well as that upon political donations now, would we?

*This probably isn\’t correct in detail but it is broadly. Any tax experts out there like to comment?

Wintering about Homeopathy

Right now, though, a fierce debate is raging between those, like me, who trust homeopathy because it works for them, and those who call it shamanistic claptrap, without clinical proof or any scientific base.

Err, Jeanette, it\’s possible for both to be true. That it is shamanistic claptrap andthat it works for you. Because you are gullible to shamanistic claptrap.