Trust no-one


The murky world of tax-avoidance, money-laundering and other dodgy financial dealings, appears to be linked to “Trusts”.

So-called ‘charitable’ and ‘family’ trusts and foundations,  may well be a cover for a multi-billion pound racket used to hide wealth and illegal assets.

In a recent scandal involving the little-known Cup Trust , directors raised £176.5m in private donations over two years but spent just £55,000 on charity.

Unsurprisingly they also have links to the British Virgin Islands.

The Cup Trust, which makes grants to smaller charities that help children and young adults, received £97.58m in 2009/10 and £78.93m in 2010/11, all in private donations, making it the sector’s 77th richest charity by income.

Yet it declared no money spent on charitable causes in 2009/10, and only £55,000 the year after.

Accounts show that over the two years it spent £176.37m on buying government bonds – more than 99 per cent of its total income – but later sold most or all of these bonds for just £17,000. Accounts for the year ending March 2011 show that the total funds remaining on the balance sheet were £107,000.

The same accounts also reveal it had outstanding Gift Aid claims worth more than £46m. In the charity’s latest accounts, for the period 2010/11, it says that “having considered legal advice from counsel, the trustee is of the opinion these claims are more than likely to succeed”.

The charity has a single corporate trustee: Mountstar (PTC), a private company based in the Virgin Islands.”

Very strange.

Of course we all know that wrinkly rogue Shirley Porter and family are quite keen on charitable trusts and foundations themselves.

Shirl’s son Johnny was investigated by the Charities Commission in 1992 when his trust was found to have  invested £3.3 million of it’s £3.6 million investments in the family business – namely Tesco shares.

We also know that Shirl’s girls Linda and Joanna have failed to provide accounts to the Charities Commission as they are obliged to :

Shirl even managed to avoid paying back her £30 million debt to Westminster Council by hiding it in none other than a trust, again linked to the BVI:

” Investigators searching for a fortune hidden by Dame Shirley Porter and her family have uncovered millions of dollars in a family trust in the British Virgin Islands, after a hunt spanning three continents and lasting two years.

According to a report in London’s Guardian newspaper, the former supermarket millionairess, now living in Israel, has resisted paying a surcharge imposed by the House of Lords, which now amounts with interest to £37 million (US$63 million). 

She is being forced to pay the surcharge to return the millions she wasted in a scam to sell local government-owned homes to potential Tory voters to boost the party’s electoral chances in the 1980s. 

Her downfall is partly due to a boardroom row involving her son, John. As part of the dispute between him and other directors, hundreds of emails were leaked to the press revealing the existence of the trusts and bank accounts in the Caribbean.

It’s high time the authorities had a closer look at every Trust and Foundation operating in the U.K..

It might be worth starting with all those linked to Shirl.

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