Shirl and the Scottish connection


We were unaware that wrinkly rogue Shirley Porter had links to Scotland, but it appears she does.

This, according to a report by the Sunday Herald:

” It is understood that the officials from Inland Revenue’s Who Owns Scotland team were concentrating on establishing whether offshore companies were using Scottish land holdings and estates to move millions of pounds in and out of the country without paying tax.

When money is held offshore in a tax haven there is no liability, but the moment it comes into the UK it can and should be taxed.

The problem facing Inland Revenue is the sheer volume of cash that flows in and out of the UK via complex networks of companies and trusts.

We have uncovered companies owning Highland estates based in places such as the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Panama, as well as in tax havens still blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) including Liechtenstein, Andorra and Liberia.

The secret nature of land ownership is also a useful way to “lose” money or put it beyond the reach of the authorities.

Take the mysterious case of Dame Shirley Porter and several hundred acres of Sitka spruce in the Highlands.

In December 2001, the House of Lords ordered Dame Shirley Porter, the disgraced former leader of Westminster City Council, to pay £27 million in surcharges to the London local authority as a result of a “votes for homes” scam she was found guilty of.

The council obtained a court order seizing her assets worldwide. But Dame Shirley claimed she only had assets worth £300,000, which came as something of a surprise given that she was the daughter of Jack Cohen, the founder of the Tesco supermarket chain. In 1991 her share portfolio recorded that she owned £5 million in Tesco shares, and more recently, at the time The Sunday Times Rich List was published, claimed she was worth about £70 million.

So what happened to her “disappeared” millions?

We may have found some of it.

At one time Dame Shirley owned substantial land holdings in Scotland, three lots of land purchased as part of the tax-driven forestry scandal of the early 1980s. In one week in June 1988, all three holdings were sold to Oakum Association Ltd for a total of £620,000.

Oakum Association Ltd is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands with a box office address in Geneva, Switzerland. No one knows whether that is a company owned by Dame Shirley or members of her family or whether it is another anonymous land speculator.

The plots were sold by Oakum Association Ltd in January, February and June 2002 to a variety of buyers. There is, of course, nothing to link Oakum to Dame Shirley Porter. We will never know whether the Sitka spruce was sold or simply transferred to disguise true ownership until the time came for disposal.

A BBC investigation earlier this year also linked Dame Shirley to Whitecoat Investments Ltd and the Sunset Trading Company, both registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.”

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