The minister for double standards (again)

Lord Myners hid his money in tax haven – Times Online:

LORD MYNERS, the minister in charge of the government’s assault on tax havens, has used a blind trust to conceal £250,000 of his own money in an offshore shelter.

Details of the secret holding have been obtained by The Sunday Times as G20 leaders gather in London pledging to stamp out tax abuses.

Myners transferred 500,000 of his own shares in the Ermitage hedge fund, based in Jersey, into a blind trust when he became a minister in October.

MPs described the holding as “blatant hypocrisy” and said it would undermine the credibility of Gordon Brown’s offensive on tax avoidance.

Myners will come under further pressure this week over his role in signing off a £16.9m pension pot for Sir Fred Goodwin, the disgraced former chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland. Sir Tom McKillop, the former RBS chairman, will hand in a statement to MPs challenging Myners’s version of events.

Company documents obtained by The Sunday Times show Myners held his Ermitage shares as recently as January this year. He concealed the holding from public scrutiny by placing it in a ministerial blind trust. Ministers are not required to disclose publicly the investments transferred to such trusts. He owned the shares while overseeing price-sensitive policy decisions. During this time he met Jersey officials who now say they have “nothing to fear” from any tax haven crackdown.

Last Thursday Myners pledged tough penalties against tax havens. Downing Street officials say a key plank of the G20 summit in London this week will be to impose higher taxes on companies which do business with firms offshore.

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The minister for double standards

The Times reports:

THE government minister in charge of stamping out corporate tax avoidance has himself set up a business in the tax haven of Bermuda. Lord Myners, already under fire for approving Sir Fred Goodwin’s massive pension from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), was part-time chairman of an offshore company which avoided more than £100m a year in taxes.

Details of Myners’s involvement in Aspen Insurance Holdings (AIH) have emerged as Gordon Brown seeks to win the backing of heads of government to prise open tax havens at a meeting of the G20 in London on April 2.

Myners, who earned nearly £200,000 from AIH in one year, is also facing questions over share options he accrued during five years as chairman of the Bermuda-based company. Accounts for AIH show that at the end of 2007 Myners held 318,338 share options. On Friday the shares, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $21.64, which would value that stake at £4.8m.

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