Archive for the ‘corruption’ Tag

Enemy of Carlotta: Coleman Balls

Enemy of Carlotta #127

Coleman faces new row over his taxi expenses

Wednesday, 18 May 2011 {courtesy of Barnet & Whetstone Press}

By Mary McConnell

Councillor Brian Coleman

Even Boris is ashamed of this pussy

Controversial councillor Brian Coleman has been blasted after he claimed £3,480 in expenses for taxis last year – including £140 to take his mother to a formal event.

Mr Coleman, Barnet Council’s cabinet member for the environment, made the claims for journeys carried out in his role as chairman of the London Fire And Emergency Planning Authority, which runs the London Fire Brigade.

In September last year Mr Coleman claimed £140.55 for the cost of two taxis that took his mother to memorial services for firefighters at St Paul’s Cathedral and at St Bartholomew The Great Church in east London.

The £3,480.20 expenses clocked up by Mr Coleman last year dwarfed the claims made by his LFEPA colleagues.

Deputy leader Maurice Heaster, who claimed £1,156.22, was the only other member to claim more than £1,000 in expenses, while 11 members did not claim any expenses at all.

Mr Coleman has been in the firing line over his expenses before. In 2008 he lodged a claim of more than £8,000, which earned him the nickname “Grab-a-cab Coleman”.

Vicky Morris, from Barnet Alliance For Public Services, told The Press: “The bill is not as big as in 2008 so I suppose he has managed to get it down.

“Mr Coleman expects a level of comfort that most of us don’t demand in life.

“He is a man with expensive tastes. The problem is we have become numb to it but this serial greed will have to catch up with him at some point.

“Taxis for his mother is just taking the mickey. He just has this sense of entitlement and thinks that he is a very important man so that means he should be able to stick his mother in a taxi at taxpayers’ expense.

“He has got no sense of embarrassment about it but I think he will come a cropper in the London Assembly elections next year.”

According to a spokesman for the London Fire Brigade, members of the authority should only use taxis as a matter of urgency or when no public transport was reasonably available.

A spokeswoman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “The mayor is disappointed with Mr Coleman. He does not approve of his extravagant expenses and has made this clear to him.

“Only members of the London Fire And Emergency Planning Authority, however, can tighten the expenses regime relevant here. We’d encourage them to do so.”

Mr Coleman was unavailable for comment.

We’re all in this together – but some of us more than others

Bad stuff is going on – beware, be angry and be active…

This chilling comment piece by George Monbiot was published in today’s Guardian (Comment is Free):

To us, it’s an obscure shift of tax law. To the City, it’s the heist of the century

In David Cameron we have a leader whose job is to quietly legitimise a semi-criminal, money-laundering economy

  • George Monbiot
  • ‘I would love to see tax reductions,” David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, “but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.” Oh no? Then how come he’s planning the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory?

    If you’ve heard nothing of it, you’re in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d’etat is taking place.

    Like the dismantling of the NHS and the sale of public forests, no one voted for this measure, as it wasn’t in the manifestos. While Cameron insists that he occupies the centre ground of British politics, that he shares our burdens and feels our pain, he has quietly been plotting with banks and businesses to engineer the greatest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle to the ultra-rich that this country has seen in a century. The latest heist has been explained to me by the former tax inspector, now a Private Eye journalist, Richard Brooks and current senior tax staff who can’t be named. Here’s how it works.

    At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.

    Foreign means anywhere. If these proposals go ahead, the UK will be only the second country in the world to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it gets here. The other is Switzerland. The exemption applies solely to “large and medium companies”: it is not available for smaller firms. The government says it expects “large financial services companies to make the greatest use of the exemption regime”. The main beneficiaries, in other words, will be the banks.

    But that’s not the end of it. While big business will be exempt from tax on its foreign branch earnings, it will, amazingly, still be able to claim the expense of funding its foreign branches against tax it pays in the UK. No other country does this. The new measures will, as we already know, accompany a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax: from 28% to 24% by 2014. This, a Treasury minister has boasted, will be the lowest rate “of any major western economy”. By the time this government is done, we’ll be lucky if the banks and corporations pay anything at all. In the Sunday Telegraph, David Cameron said: “What I want is tax revenue from the banks into the exchequer, so we can help rebuild this economy.” He’s doing just the opposite.

    These measures will drain not only wealth but also jobs from the UK. The new legislation will create a powerful incentive to shift business out of this country and into nations with lower corporate tax rates. Any UK business that doesn’t outsource its staff or funnel its earnings through a tax haven will find itself with an extra competitive disadvantage. The new rules also threaten to degrade the tax base everywhere, as companies with headquarters in other countries will demand similar measures from their own governments.

    So how did this happen? You don’t have to look far to find out. Almost all the members of the seven committees the government set up “to provide strategic oversight of the development of corporate tax policy” are corporate executives. Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays.

    I used to think of such processes as regulatory capture: government agencies being taken over by the companies they were supposed to restrain. But I’ve just read Nicholas Shaxson’s Treasure Islands – perhaps the most important book published in the UK so far this year – and now I’m not so sure. Shaxson shows how the world’s tax havens have not, as the OECD claims, been eliminated, but legitimised; how the City of London is itself a giant tax haven, which passes much of its business through its subsidiary havens in British dependencies, overseas territories and former colonies; how its operations mesh with and are often indistinguishable from the laundering of the proceeds of crime; and how the Corporation of the City of London in effect dictates to the government, while remaining exempt from democratic control. If Hosni Mubarak has passed his alleged $70bn through British banks, the Egyptians won’t see a piastre of it.

    Reading Treasure Islands, I have realised that injustice of the kind described in this column is no perversion of the system; it is the system. Tony Blair came to power after assuring the City of his benign intentions. He then deregulated it and cut its taxes. Cameron didn’t have to assure it of anything: his party exists to turn its demands into public policy. Our ministers are not public servants. They work for the people who fund their parties, run the banks and own the newspapers, shielding them from their obligations to society, insulating them from democratic challenge.

    Our political system protects and enriches a fantastically wealthy elite, much of whose money is, as a result of their interesting tax and transfer arrangements, in effect stolen from poorer countries, and poorer citizens of their own countries. Ours is a semi-criminal money-laundering economy, legitimised by the pomp of the lord mayor’s show and multiple layers of defence in government. Politically irrelevant, economically invisible, the rest of us inhabit the margins of the system. Governments ensure that we are thrown enough scraps to keep us quiet, while the ultra-rich get on with the serious business of looting the global economy and crushing attempts to hold them to account.

    And this government? It has learned the lesson that Thatcher never grasped. If you want to turn this country into another Mexico, where the ruling elite wallows in unimaginable, state-facilitated wealth while the rest can go to hell, you don’t declare war on society, you don’t lambast single mothers or refuse to apologise for Bloody Sunday. You assuage, reassure, conciliate, emote. Then you shaft us.

    Article reproduced courtesy of The Guardian and George Monbiot

For FoCs Sake

Juliette Forrest: What does ‘Foc’ mean?
Rigby Reardon: It’s a slang word. When a man and a woman are in love, the man puts his…
Juliette Forrest: No, no. Here: “F. O. C.”

LAST UPDATED: 12.xii.11 (EoC)

In the spirit of the earlier, still in progress 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain – and to avoid, in these troubled times, a ball of anger seasoned with irritation and sprinkled with misanthropy gradually turning into a malignant growth somewhere in this fine body the Big Man was kind enough to lend me – I’ve decided to start a list of the Friends and Enemies of Carlotta. Feel free to suggest candidates for either…

Enemies of Carlotta

  • Corporation tax cheats: Google – they set the standards for taking no social responsibility in the territories they exploit, squeezing the most they can out of a morethansemi-monopolistic situation
  • Corporation tax cheats/duplicitous businesses: Kraft – manoeuvring to take a progressive, visionary Victorian business out of the tax regime of the country which created it – Cadbury’s secret Swiss move will cost UK exchequer millions in tax
  • Duplicitous individuals: Sepp Blatter – robbed £16M in broad Swiss daylight including the cash of hard-pressed city councils (looks like Morrison’s may take FIFA to court on this count in Switzerland)
  • Duplicitous individuals: Jack Warner – not the cozy cop from Dock Green but the corrupt cock from Trinidad & Tobago – see Corruption Charges “FIFA’s auditors Ernst & Young estimated Warner’s family made a profit of at least $1 million from reselling 2006 World Cup tickets that Warner had ordered. Minutes of FIFA’s executive committee indicate that a fine of almost $1 million, equal to the expected profiteering, was imposed on the family. Despite numerous reminders from FIFA, only $250,000 has been paid. // After Trinidad and Tobago visited Scotland for the friendly match on 30th May 2004  in Edinburgh, Jack Warner asked SFA President John McBeth for the cheque for the game to be made out to him personally and not to the FA of Trinidad and Tobago. McBeth refused to issue the cheque to Warner.”
  • Corporation tax cheats: Vodaphone – Watching the backlash from avoiding £6M of corporation tax #mademesmile – now people need to PAC a punch by moving their accounts away
  • Wayne Rooney and the England World Cup 2010 football team – didn’t even look like they gave a damn when they got knocked out, sorry shower
  • Rebekah Wade/Brooks – one can only hope she, Murdoch and the Sky deal get dragged down in the emerging News of the World phone hacking scandal to show how if you operate without morality with a bit of luck it eventually catches up with you (I know the world doesn’t work quite like that but we can dream) [22.i.11]
  • Caroline Spelman, so called Environment Secretary – someone remind her she’s supposed to be protecting the environment, not selling it alongside her own grandma
  • Brian Colemanfat cat councillor/London Assembly member, mummy’s boy, too grand to walk
  • Angela Knight, Chief Executive, British Bankers’ Association – excuses the inexcusable, especially around banking reform. I want my savings insulated from her members’ (in every sense) partially informed gambling.
  • Subway franchise – What the fuck is that smell?
  • Alain Rolland – What the fuck is that smell? The man who ruined the Rugby World Cup 2011 single-handedly (15.x.11)
  • Thierry Henry – he got a statue outside the Emirates last week (w/e 9/xii/11) but he should be remembered above all as a tricheur, the man who robbed Ireland of their place at the World Cup Finals in South Africa (even though it was one of the worst World Cups ever)
  • Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster Council, who is pretending the proposed weekend and  evening parking charges in the borough are not motivated by revenue generation – perhaps he could start his money raising by paying back the money his hedge fund owes the council & Councillor Lee Rowley, cabinet member for parking and transport, some kind of moron with no experience worth talking of

Friends of Carlotta

  • Voina artists co-operative in Russia – taking on the KGB and corrupt police with Art
  • David Beckham – worthy (emotional and dignified) winner of BBC Sports Personality of 2010 Lifetime Achievement award – I was there when he was sent off against Argentina at St Etienne and how he came back not just as an even better footballer but as a very fine human-being
  • Gareth Bale – bringing long lost joy back to White Hart Lane (or White Hard Lane as I saw on a West End ticket booth yesterday)
  • Alastair Cook, cricketer/batsman – hero of the 2010-11 Ashes series in Oz with 766 runs to his name (with another innings still to play) and 189 today (5.1.11) to pretty much secure the victory
  • Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity which feeds and educates 460,000 children in developing countries every day.
  • Rolf Harris – what a lovely man – soon to feature as the Art Teacher in Jamie’s Dream School
  • more to follow

Peer to Peer Networks: Remembering a whole 3 months back

Dirty conscience

Dirty consciences

Dirty conscience?

Dirty conscience?

In the wake of the justified disappointments and embarrassments about our democratic system this week, I switch subjects from my recent favourite of Embarrassing Bodies in the health arena to embarrassing bodies in the political sphere: namely, adding to the Telegraph’s sterling efforts this week with the House of Commons, the House of Lords, two national bodies that are neither right nor honourable as they stand. Memory being what it is – while everyday folk are getting increasingly angry at fat cats, dirty dogs and trough-snouting pigs across our society – it seems the right time to remind ourselves of an interface of Parliament and business/finance from January this year…

What Lord Taylor allegedly said

This is an edited transcript of the conversation alleged to have taken place between an undercover Sunday Times reporter and one of the Labour peers accused of offering to use his influence to deliver an amendment to legislation:

Lord Taylor: If I want to get a point over to a minister or a civil servant or someone like this, this is the place where I would do it: over this table. I can speak better and they can speak more freely over a cup of coffee or a pint, as I say, rather than over a boardroom table or a ministerial desk where everything is written down and so on … I don’t know if you know a company called Experian in this country?

Sunday Times: No.

Taylor: Experian are the company. They have got a terrific amount of intelligence and information. They are the people who advise banks on your credit worthiness and so on. You know, they will blacklist you or they will tell you how good you are. Also, they do a lot with government on ID cards and things like that, that are coming in. They have got all sorts of information. For example, I’ve been working with them on amending a statute that’s coming out, or was coming out, because I’ve got it delayed now, whereby it was going to be difficult for them to get certain information and so on. So I’ve got that amended and you do it quietly behind the scenes, you see.

Sunday Times: How did you manage to do that? Do you actually put in an amendment yourself?

Taylor: No, no, no, no, no. You don’t do things like that. That’s stupid. What you do is you talk to the parliamentary team who drafts the statute as it goes through and you point out to them the difficulty the retailer would be having on this, and how things are working and so on. And you get them to amend it that way. You’re too late when [inaudible] …

But if you can get it done when it’s in the draft form it’s far better because if you know what the principles are and if you know what the principles are of the bill and [inaudible] what you do is you meet the minister. You meet the various people, and it’s not always ministers or secretary of state or even permanent secretaries that do this, it’s some little chappie half way down the grade who does this drafting. It’s about identifying the decision-makers. It’s about identifying the people that make the recommendations.

Sunday Times: Obviously, from our point of view, this would be something we would remunerate you for. And I don’t think money is an object. But [what] I would ask you to do, I think, is to give us some idea of what a fee structure would be.

Taylor: This is absolutely difficult, this is very difficult for me because some companies that I work with will pay me £100,000 a year.

Sunday Times: £100,000?

Taylor: Oh yes. That’s cheap for what I do for them. And other companies will pay me £25,000. It all depends on what you are trying to do and how much time I think I am going to spend on it.

Sunday Times: Those fees are not impossible. They are all fine.

Taylor: Yes, but these are the sort of fees I get. I am being absolutely honest with you. I am not exaggerating. It’s whether I want to do it or not. You’ve got to whet my appetite, to get me to come on board.

Edited transcript of a second meeting some weeks later:

Taylor: I am very aware of the credibility I have achieved over 50 years of working here with government and departments. I am not going to put myself in an embarrassing situation or do anything that I think is illegal or using my position. I will work within the rules, but also rules are meant to be bent sometimes.

Published Tuesday 27 January 2009 – courtesy of The Guardian

Newspaper Report three days later:

Lord Taylor of Blackburn, one of the peers at the centre of claims about “cash for amendments”, has lost his consultancy with the credit check company for which he allegedly boasted he had altered legislation.

Experian said it was “surprised” by the Labour peer’s descriptions to undercover reporters of his role for the firm. “We have agreed that Lord Taylor will retire with immediate effect,” a spokesman said.

Taylor is the second peer to lose a consultancy in the row over possible abuses of rules which allow members of the House of Lords to earn money outside their parliamentary work. Lord Truscott resigned from Landis+Gyr on Wednesday night.

Taylor’s parting of company with Experian came as peers made a flurry of changes to the official register of Lords’ interests, which lists paid and unpaid work and appointments that could be thought to affect their parliamentary work.

On Tuesday and Wednesday they made a total of 37 amendments to the register, more than twice the normal rate, with several declaring paid directorships, regular jobs and sponsored overseas visits months later than they should have done according to their own code. Normally only 20 to 40 changes are made in a whole week.

A fresh version of the list, which is usually updated online every seven days, was last night posted on the House of Lords website for the second time this week as officials strived to appear as transparent as possible.

The apparent rush to ensure all interests are correctly registered comes after peers were thrown under the spotlight by allegations in the Sunday Times that four peers told undercover reporters they were willing to use their influence to help to amend legislation, for money.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: “It’s an indication that self-regulation has been failing until now. It’s only the threat of exposure and the allegations that have come out in the last week that has pushed peers into taking the register seriously.”

Taylor, a peer since 1978, and Truscott, a former energy minister, allegedly said they had used their influence to alter legislation indirectly on behalf of clients.

A further two Labour peers, Lords Snape and Moonie, allegedly indicated that they were prepared to use their influence to help clients. All four deny wrongdoing.

Taylor was reported to have told them he had helped amend draft legislation “quietly behind the scenes”. He allegedly said of Experian: “I’ve been working with them on amending a statute that’s coming out, or was coming out, because I’ve got it delayed now, whereby it was going to be difficult for them to get certain information and so on.”

Experian said last night that Taylor had overstated his role. “The full extent of Lord Taylor’s role as consultant was limited to providing us with general advisory and introductory activities, which he declared as an interest,” the spokesman said. “His role was to keep us apprised on developments which may be of interest to our industry, and provide basic advice on the appropriate people our team ought to speak to.”

The peer was one of 18 who made changes to the register of interests on Tuesday and Wednesday. The 30 additions to the register of interests far outweighed the five removals and two alterations.

Lady Verma, opposition whip and Conservative spokeswoman on education, skills and health, made 11 additions to the register, the most of any peer. She declared for the first time her paid directorship of DCS Foods, seven months after she should have done so according to the peers’ code of conduct. She also registered foreign trips to Kenya, Switzerland, Norway, Bangladesh and New York, as well as a 50% stake in Domiciliary Care Services.

A month late, Lord Adebowale, appointed as a “people’s peer” in 2001, registered his appointment as a paid non-executive director of St Vincent Healthcare, a company which is advising on the NHS national cancer information management system, in which he holds shares.

Lady Amos, former leader of the House of Lords, registered a paid directorship on the board of England’s bid for the 2018 football World Cup more than two months late. Her declaration of a position on the global advisory board of a University of California “action tank”, Global Health Group, came a month late.

The leader of Essex county council, Lord Hanningfield, revealed his role as patron of the Academies Enterprise Trust, the organisation behind five secondary schools in Essex, two months late.

Published Friday 30 January 2009 – courtesy of The Guardian

Given my job and the organisation I work within, I spend a lot of time reflecting on Public Service. If nothing else, reminding ourselves of January’s shenanigans and absorbing last week’s revelations and reactions, one can only conclude that this country’s notion of Public Service needs a serious shake-up for our times.

Clean conscience?

Clean conscience? (asks the poster behind)

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