This is a transcript of The Times’ report on Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s plans to relocate to Monaco, from Russell Scott of Frack Free Ryedale. If you subscribe to The Times you can read their actual report here.
**Latest** on Jim Ratcliffes move to Monaco:
Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Monaco move under fire
Britain’s richest man has come under attack over his decision to move to Monaco barely two years after proclaiming that he was back in the UK for good.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, an industrial tycoon with a fortune estimated at £21 billion, lived in Switzerland from 2010 to 2016. Now he is preparing to move to the Mediterranean principality in an apparent attempt to lower his tax bill.
Critics have condemned the decision, with one even calling for him to be stripped of his knighthood.
Sir Jim, a supporter of Brexit, moved his Ineos chemicals business to Switzerland in 2010 after falling out with the Labour government of the day. He marked his return six years later by opening a new headquarters in Knightsbridge, next to the Harrod’s department store. Invitations to a lavish opening party were emblazoned with the Union Jack.
He told reporters at the time: “We are Brits, aren’t we? It’s where we started and it’s where our hearts lie. It was necessary for us to move to Switzerland a few years ago, but now, without question, we have been gravitating back to the UK.”
The tycoon, who grew up on a council estate in Lancashire, has been assiduously courted by ministers and was knighted in June for his “services to business and investment”.
Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “It’s strange for someone who presents themselves as highly patriotic and has been given honours to move to a notorious tax haven. It’s unfortunate that when we make a song and dance about a national hero who’s investing in the UK, they disappear to Monaco.”
The Ineos move to Switzerland in 2010 was prompted by a government refusal to delay a VAT bill. The global recession nearly felled the company, which had borrowed billions of pounds to buy several chemical businesses, but its fortunes have recovered dramatically: according to The Sunday Times Rich List, it made a profit last year of £5.15 billion. It employs more than 18,500 people at 181 sites in 22 countries.
Sir Jim’s decision to move to Monaco has raised speculation in the City that Ineos is preparing to pay out a giant dividend to its shareholders. He owns 60 per cent of the company and would receive the bulk of any payout — and if he were tax resident in Monaco, he would not then be liable for UK taxes.
Such a move would mirror that made by the high street retail magnate Sir Philip Green. In 2005 his wife, Tina Green, who is a tax resident of Monaco, received a £1.2 billion dividend from the family’s Arcadia empire, saving an estimated £285 million in taxes that would have been payable in the UK.
Last night the entrepreneur Luke Johnson tweeted: “Anyone who moves to ghastly Monaco has lost the plot. Taxes on wealth and capital in Britain are not so onerous that you need to become a tax exile. Better to enjoy a full life than live in a soulless tax haven with people like Mrs P Green.”
Critics say that the corporate structure of Ineos is opaque, even to the government. Documents released under Freedom of Information laws to Russell Scott, an anti-fracking campaigner, show that Greg Clark, the business secretary, sought clarification from Ineos in 2016 over its UK tax structure, but apparently received no response.
Yesterday Mr Scott said it was “time to remove that knighthood”.
Ineos declined to comment on Sir Jim’s tax affairs. The company said only that Ineos was “committed” to its business base in the UK and planned to keep its headquarters in London “for the foreseeable future”.
It’s a complicated business . . .
Understanding where Ineos generates profits and pays taxes has always been difficult. Finding out was made harder in 2010 when Sir Jim Ratcliffe moved operations to Switzerland after a row with the Labour government. He had asked to postpone a VAT payment to help to overcome a squeeze on its finances. When the Treasury refused, Ineos left Britain for six years.
The petrochemical business publishes financial reports for Ineos Group Holdings SA, registered in Luxembourg, which declared a before-tax profit of €2.3 billion last year, paying corporation tax of €301.5 million, 13 per cent of reported earnings. The UK rate is 19 per cent.
The Luxembourg company is owned by Ineos Ltd, which is registered in the Isle of Man and controlled by Sir Jim. However, not all assets are controlled by Ineos Group Holdings SA. There are several parts that report profits separately — 27 organised in six groups. Even the smallest has a billion-euro turnover.
The amount of tax paid in Britain is unclear. Some 13 of Ineos’s 78 manufacturing sites are in the UK. Yesterday Ineos declined to answers questions on its corporate structure and has refused multiple previous requests to provide a clear picture of how the parts fit together.
– from Russell Scott of Frack Free Ryedale