This article titled “The full list of peers and MPs with directorships or controlling interests in companies linked to tax havens” was written by Martin Williams and Rajeev Syal, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 20th September 2012 21.00 UTC
The Guardian investigation into peers and MPs who have directorships or a controlling interest in companies linked to tax havens began as an exercise to show how widespread the use of offshore jurisdictions has become in British business life.
It soon became apparent that many Parliamentarians who are able to influence tax laws have taken up positions as directors and non executive directors in major companies with offshore links.
There are 28 Tories – six of whom are MPs -16 Labour peers, three Lib Dem peers and another 21 are either crossbench or non-affiliated peers.
Our inquiries began by examining the Parliamentary registers of members’ and Lords’ interests to identify companies where Parliamentarians are registered as directors or a non-executive directors.
This information was then cross-referenced with accounts or other financial records to find out if the companies were registered, or had a parent company or subsidiary, in a jurisdiction known as a tax haven.
While most tax experts agree that tax havens are characterised by secrecy and low taxes, few have attempted to identify them.
Revenue and Customs does not provide a list of tax havens. For the purposes of the article, we have referred to a list of 34 jurisdictions identified for their secrecy and low tax compiled for Congress in the US in 2009.
According to the document, “offshore secrecy jurisdictions” identified by the Internal Revenue Service include Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
However, being based in a tax havendoes not always mean a company is avoiding tax or hiding company information – even though the jurisdictions are closely associated with this.
In the Guardian’s research, every offshore company identified was included, regardless of how the tax regimes were being used or what benefits there may have been or if the companies are running a business in the jurisdiction.
The Guardian tried to contact every politician or the company at which they hold a position for a right of reply – in many cases, we contacted both. Our inquiries began at the end of July and continued until Thursday night.
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