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.
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.
Myners, earned nearly £200,000 from AIH in one year.
Myners held 318,338 share options. The shares, which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $21.64 on Friday.
Myners, financial services secretary to the Treasury and former chairman of the Guardian Media Group, was awarded the majority of the share options at an exercise price of $16.20 a share in August 2003, a year after he helped to start the company.
Myners declined to say whether he had exercised the shares. (a spokesman suggested he had not)
Myners, who is also leading the government’s clampdown on City bonuses, received a farewell bonus of £50,000 for his final four months at Aspen.
Myners helped to launch a government investigation into the tax lost through havens, saying: “Off-shore financial centres must play a responsible role in the global financial system.”
Myners faces a challenge to his account to the Treasury select committee last week in which he said he did not know the full cost of Goodwin’s RBS pension.
Sir Tom McKillop, the former chairman of RBS, has written to John McFall, the committee’s chairman, insisting that Myners was told the full value of Goodwin’s £703,000-a-year pension.
Michael Fallon, deputy chairman of the committee, said: “If the letter contradicts what Lord Myners told the committee then it could be very serious for him.”
From The Business Times Online