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Tony Blair under pressure from UK media over possible plans to avoid UK tax

Tony Blair came under pressure following news of links to companies with offshore licences

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The news apparently followed the release last night by the Conservatives of a dossier that was said to show some of Blair’s companies had received the go-head to operate in tax havens.

Blair is earning tens of millions of pounds annually from giving speeches and working as a policy adviser, according to some media reports.

One such report, in the Daily Mail, said the former prime minister had set up “a complicated series of firms through which he is paid and his charitable work is funded,” which it said “has confused accountants and solicitors”.

It quoted a Blair spokesman as saying that the structure “had nothing to with tax but was a regulatory formality”.
 
Nevertheless, the Daily Telegraph noted, the revelations about what it called Blair’s foreign”dealings” were “a potential embarrassment for Labour at a time when the party is trying to turn up the heat on the Tories over wealthy backers such as Lord Ashcroft”.

It added: “There was no suggestion that Mr Blair had broken any laws, but both [Gibraltar and Lithuania] have lower corporate tax rates than Britain”.

Cross-border investment services

The Mail story cites "new documents" as showing a company called Firerush Ventures, which it says is controlled by Blair, had obtained Financial Services Authority licences "to operate ‘cross border investment services’ in a string of European countries, including many with rock-bottom tax regimes."

It notes the corporation tax rates in a number of these jurisdictions, and compares them with the UK, where the main corporation tax rate is 28%. 

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