Friday, May 17, 2013

Lloyds banking group to pull out of tax havens

This one has a wow factor. From The Guardian:
"The boss of Lloyds Banking Group pledged to pull out of tax havens where the bank is not conducting genuine business at its annual meeting on Thursday where investors hit out against its "cosy' boardroom and "appallingly high" bonuses.

Chief executive António Horta-Osório said the 39%-taxpayer owned bank had embarked on a systematic review of "so-called tax havens" after a shareholder demanded to know why the bank was the seventh biggest user of such facilities."
The devil will be in the detail, of course, but this is a hugely welcome step. And this bit in bold is also pretty remarkable:
Shareholder Anne Edmonds said: "I want to know when this will be stopped. Tax avoidance is legal and what Lloyds is doing is legal. But to me there is little difference between tax avoidance, which is legal, and tax evasion, which is illegal."

This was "very wrong", she said. "That money should be kept in the UK for the benefit of the UK." Horta-Osório agreed with her comments. "In 2012 alone we have closed 60 of those companies and that is more than 20% of the total. We are going to close all of them unless there are strong business reasons for our customers to keep them there," he said at the meeting in Edinburgh. He later clarified that "business reasons" did not mean "tax reasons".
As we just said: wow.


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