Monday, 16 March 2009

Barclays in Tax Schemes Shock ! Furore !


Well, they all get there in the end. Back in October we gave the reason why Barclays was so keen to avoid taking the HMG shilling:

"there’s [a] price to pay for the Darling Dole: banks must forswear promoting and funding ‘tax schemes’. Long the bane of the HMRC, banks have had whole divisions beavering away, on behalf of themselves and numerous clients, corporate and private alike, at wheezes to deprive the government of tax revenues. And none more so than Barclays, whose clever (and entirely legal) tax schemes, particularly on the VAT front, are a significant business line. Some of their wheezes – that trick of avoiding VAT on new computer systems, eh, lads ? – have sent the HMRC into apoplexy."

Finally, Vince Cable – keep up at the back there, boy – has received material from a ‘whistle-blower’ (strange terminology because it’s most probable that nothing illegal or technically improper has happened) detailing some of Barclays’ cunning plans, and almost everyone else has piled in.

Barclays has some champions in odd places – well, John Varley does anyway, here in the Grauniad, which is also rather coy
(is this the best they can do ?) about what the HMG shilling may entail:

Allowing the government to take a stake in the bank is likely to come with conditions attached. These could include forcing it to … comply with restrictions on its activities (our emphasis)

But the FT’s excellent Alphaville blog pulls no punches, seemingly because they are miffed at Barclay’s PR efforts to thwart their reportage (and perhaps they didn't get as good a lunch as the Grauniad chaps). They give us

a little story about Barclays, a bank that in our view could now unravel at frightening speed …all the time it has to continue spinning the line that its balance sheet is somehow less toxic than its rivals … State-interference must be avoided at all costs since that would cost Barclays its lucrative tax avoidance business and also cost Messrs Varley and Diamond their jobs

What, honest John Varley ? Barclays unravelling at frightening speed ?
Say it ain't so !


ND

UPDATE: it's all getting a bit heavy.
But where is Pesto ? Usually so quick off the mark, with so many banking stories, over so many many months ! What are we to infer ?

UPDATE 2: Alarm over, Pesto has posted ! (but he wants to hug the bankers - and no mention of the big B ...)

UPDATE 3: whisper it softly but they do say that the Grauniad's scoop is still available somewhere on the interweb

17 comments:

Bill Quango MP said...

I love the giant wall sized Barclays Wealth advert that is above arrivals at nice airport.

"Barclays Wealth is committed to meeting the diverse needs of wealthy clients and those aspiring to become wealthier."

Obsidian said...

Didn't they receive over $8 billion from AIG(AKA Congress)?

Hardly the sign of a healthy bank when they're relying on a company the US government regards as a Weeble(weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!).

Plus I'm sure I heard over a year back that Barcap were brushing plenty of nasties under the rug?

Anonymous said...

given the great job that the UK government has done with Lloyds and RBS why are people shocked that Barclays is desperate to avoid government money?

Letters From A Tory said...

No wonder Barclays were happier going to the Middle East for some extra capital rather than chat with Brown and Darling. It sounds like they have a lot to hide.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of Pesto, am I the only person in the world who has noticed that Marcus Agius (surely there can't be two) is on the board of the BBC and Chairman of Barclays? If this is not a conflict of interest for little Lord Peston and BBC business reporting, I don't know what is. Why has no hack pointed this out?

Newmania said...

I feel more and more than pouring moneuy into bad banks was bad idea and a new good bank would have been wiser

Anonymous said...

And Marcus Agius is married to a Rothschild and in with the family...

Anonymous said...

Dont we all want to pay less tax? Fair play to them........The rich will always get richer FACT.....

Anonymous said...

This is the biggest financial story of the day. Admittedly there is a conveyor belt of good stories. This is not on the BBC or SKY and besides the Guardian, FT alphaville and you guys the others don't seem to be pursuing it. Call me paranoid but this is fishy. Has Freshfields slapped gags on everyone or are they just too scared. Agius should not be allowed to be a board member of the BBC when the press has such an important democratic function to perform right now.

CityUnslicker said...

barclay's are in a world of pain. Their we are better than the other banks claptrap is just about going to do for them.

I am amazed at their share price currently.

Anonymous said...

and the Rothschilds were the ones who advised in the backroom over Barclays' takeover of the Lehman arm

Anonymous said...

agreed cityunslicker. everyone in the city knows what their balance sheet and business looks like. unfortunately the normal shareholder wants to believe things aren't as bad as they are and looks to Pesto and the mainstream press for guidance. I would think that Agius and Varley may come to rue their signed letter to the public saying everything was fine and dandy. If someone could prove that it wasn't at the time they wrote that letter then there surely would be grounds for criminal proceedings. Did UBS not recently paid a big fine for allegedly helping US citizens avoid tax? I wonder will the US authorities now focus on Barclays allegedly undertaking tax avoidance in their backyard? Another interesting rumour I heard was that Roger (the tax dodger) Jenkins was friends with Joe (biggest corporate loss in history) Casino sorry I mean Cassano. Fred the Shred is starting to look like a boyscout. Just joining the dots.

Nick Drew said...

anon @ 12:22 - yup, ve-ery interesting

they always used to say Pesto's stuff came from the Treasury, but, hmm, maybe not ...

@3:17 - If someone could prove that it wasn't at the time they wrote that letter ...

as I keep saying, it was making misleading statements to investors that put Jeff Skilling away - for 24 years and a $45 mm fine ! That's the way they do things on the Other Side

bankers don't tend to like the idea of serious gaol-time. It's the only language they understand

Steven_L said...

Can't we just pour water down their noses until they tell us the truth?

I bet that'd work!

Anonymous said...

anon @3:17, actually UBS was helping with tax **evasion**. Barclays is accused of tax avoidance. One is illegal and the other is carried out by anyone who is not mentally retarded or who doesn't just love paying more than they have to( which pretty much leaves just retarded ). Bit hypocritical of the Guardian though, they avoided more tax last year than BARCL did. I look forward to them campaigning against themselves!

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