Corruption

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type int in element_children() (line 6600 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/common.inc).

Ban Secret Deals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 11:26pm in

Photo credit: Ban Secret Deals Coalition As regular readers know, I am a pretty big critic of the use of...

Read More

Why is it that those who live off financial speculation are taxed so much less in the UK than those who work for a living?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 6:00pm in

My old friend and long term colleague in tax justice and accounting reform campaigning, Prem Sikka, who now sits in the House of Lords, said this in that House yesterday as part of a longer speech on the injustices within Sunak's Spring Statement:

The Government’s tax policies are loaded against work and workers. I will give your Lordships an illustration of how they work and how unfair they are; hopefully noble Lords have a pen and paper handy to note down the numbers I am going to call out. Let us look at a case with two individuals who each have an annual income of £30,000. One is a worker in a factory and the other speculates on shares and makes capital gains. The worker has £30,000 gross income and will receive a personal allowance of £12,570 from tomorrow; that leaves a taxable income of £17,430. This worker then pays income tax at a rate of 20%, which comes to £3,486, and will now also pay 13.25% of national insurance, which comes to £2,309. Their total deductions are £5,795 and their take-home pay is £24,205 out of £30,000 gross.

Now let us look at the speculator, who speculated on shares and made capital gains of £30,000. They will receive a capital gains allowance of £12,300. Chargeable gain—the phrase used—is then £17,700. This is not liable to 20%, as the worker pays in income tax, but to only 10%, so their capital gains tax is £1,770. The national insurance payable is zero because no national insurance is charged on capital gains. The total deductions paid by this speculator are £1,770 and their take-home pay is £28,230, compared with the worker’s £24,205. Why on earth are workers penalised with higher deductions?

Prem is right to ask the question.

Why is it that those who live off financial speculation are taxed so much less than those who work for a living?

In what sort of society is it thought reasonable that this is the case?

What are the ethics that drive this?

Why should we tolerate it?

I am aware of how angry Prem is about this. So am I.

This government is choosing to impose hunger on people and there are people in this country cheering them on

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 5:43pm in

It's April Fool's day, but the only fools are in the government, who think that the people of this country can be taken for a ride. As the Mirror put it:

There is a cost of living crisis because of the economic exploitation of the shortages created by Covid, Brexit and war. And the government is compounding it.

The above front page does not even mention the increase in interest rates.

As I have explained, the government could have taken action to prevent many of the cost increases people are suffering and will suffer as this year goes on. Poverty could have been prevented. But they have chosen to make it worse, not better.

It staggers me that anyone could be in, let alone vote for, a government that chooses to impose hunger on people. But that is what this one is doing. And there are people in this country cheering them on.

Covid is all about the politics of denial now, for which we will pay a very high price

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/03/2022 - 6:15pm in

This is the latest data on the number of patients in the UK in hospital with Covid:

Thankfully fewer are needing ICU treatment:

But it is still the case that one in seven patients in a UK hospital today is being treated for Covid. And, as is obvious, that trend is upward, which makes this an exceptional period within the last two years of Covid history, because that trend has only happened twice before.

The number of deaths is also rising:

This data is always lagged, of course. And what we now know is that Covid kills in many ways. All those mysterious heart attacks amongst people previously thought to be fit are not without a reason.

I will ignore data for now in long Covid. That really worries me.

At the same time as all this is happening the Westminster government is declaring Covid no longer a risk. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are not so unwise, but are being dragged towards a reduction in safeguards. The claim being made is that Covid is ‘over’, having been ‘beaten’ and that we can now ‘live with it’ as it is now only endemic, and not a pandemic.

The evidence for all to see is that this is not true. I have known more people with Covid in the last few weeks than at any other time to date. Although I have not had it, my work has been disrupted by the illness of those who have had it. I hear the same story from many others,

And, tomorrow Covid testing ends. You will not be able to get free lateral flow tests. PCR testing facilities are being closed. Even medics are going to have difficulties ordering them, which is probably the first time that access to a necessary medical test that is potentially available  and affordable will have been denied for political reasons.

And politics is at the heart of all of this. First there is the politics of the false narrative, that Covid has been beaten when that is not true. The political claim being made is glaringly obviously false, and yet is being actively pursued. The deliberate supply of misinformation is now government policy. It’s as if we lived in a totalitarian state.

Second, there is the politics of indifference. This was best seen when hundreds of Tory MPs walked by those marking the anniversary of the wall that marked the loss of their loved ones in London this week whilst on their way to a party, and to a person (apparently) ignored those holding that vigil. There is an attitude that they just no longer care, and it stinks.

Then there is the politics of denial. Even if Covid is endemic (and one day it will be) that requires active management, as do other serious endemic diseases like TB and malaria. You do not just ignore them, as the government suggests we should Covid. There is instead an active management programme that is required. But that is not happening.

And in the face of all this the NHS is now facing real term cuts.

It”# as if we have a government  that thinks it can govern by false edict and that the world will deliver to its command. It won’t. It will, in fact, do nothing like that. The denial will just make things worse.

Thirty five per cent of the population do, however, still think they will vote Conservative. Why?, has to be the response.

The sad  fact is that some people are still willingly fooled by these idiots. The rest of us will pay a very high price for that.

Discouraging participatory democracy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/03/2022 - 5:18pm in

In an idle conversation yesterday it was mentioned that Mayors are part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda. Of course nobody can tell us exactly what the levelling up agenda is, but broadly, I think it can be agreed that central government requires local government to bid for an artificially constrained pot of money in order... Read more

Sanctioned Russian Firms Allowed to Flaunt Human Rights, Anti-Corruption Credentials by UN

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/03/2022 - 10:09pm in

Have Kremlin-backed companies used the international peace system to launder their reputations? Dimitris Dimitriadis explores

Sanctioned Russian companies are still being listed as participants of a United Nations initiative with an emphasis on human rights and anti-corruption, the Byline Intelligence Team can reveal. 

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), which describes itself as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, recently launched a guide to mobilise businesses to “urgently respond to Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis”. The Compact’s CEO has also echoed the remarks of the Secretary General deploring “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. 

But the UNGC still lists 85 companies from the Russian Federation as participants. Among them are several businesses that are controlled by the Kremlin and are currently under Western sanctions. Those include banks, Sovcombank, Alfa Bank and Sberbank, as well as Russian Railways and the world’s largest diamond producer, Alrosa – all of which have been recently targeted by UK sanctions against the “vital industries fuelling Putin’s war machine”. 

Another participant, which claims to have committed to promoting human rights as part of the Compact’s ‘10 Principles’, is Gazprom. The energy giant’s CEO, Igor Sechin, has been described as “Putin’s right hand man” by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and is sanctioned by the UK, the US and the EU.

Even as Russian troops were amassing on the Ukrainian border in early February, Rosneft – another oil and gas behemoth backed by the Kremlin – was celebrating its status as a lead participant of the Compact, a special category reserved for companies “identified annually for their high levels of engagement”. 

In an announcement in September 2021, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO of the Compact, said: “More than ever, the world needs different companies that, like the lead members announced today, are continually working to improve sustainability outcomes and are committed to making the world a better place.”

Even though Rosneft has been suspended from trading its global depository receipts on the London Stock Exchange, while the head and one of its subsidiaries has been subject to UK sanctions, the energy giant still lists itself as a Global Compact lead.

The same applies to PhosAgro, a major fertiliser producer whose CEO was recently targeted by EU sanctions, which claims to be a lead participant on its profile. 

Web archives from March 2021 indicate that Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, a consortium of oil and gas producers including Gazprom, was also a lead participant – though that has now been removed from its profile.

Another Russian oil major still listed as a UNGC participant is Lukoil, which is also under US sanctions. Also listed are EN+ and Rusal, some of whose shareholders have been hit with Western sanctions. 

The Compact says on its website that participation in the initiative does not equate to an endorsement of a company’s credentials. It is down to individual companies to self-report and track their progress against the UNGC’s principles, which include a commitment to human rights, anti-corruption and the environment. 

Where annual revenues exceed $50 million, companies are also required to make a financial contribution which, depending on their status – participant or signatory – ranges from $2,500 to USD $20,000 per year. 

In exchange, they gain a range of benefits including “unprecedented networking access”, “tools, resources and training” and “the moral authority, knowledge and experience of the United Nations”.

Of the Russian companies listed on the Compact’s website, those that have been hit by Western sanctions – or have seen key shareholders affected – they would normally pay the UNGC some $455,000 a year. This does not include any additional voluntary contributions.

With the UK Government facing continuing scrutiny over its normalisation of commercial and political relationships with Russian interests over recent years, it’s also worth considering how the same is true for international organisations.

Indeed, Parliament’s 2020 Intelligence and Security Committee report into Russian interference explains how Russian oligarchs have used the city of London to launder their reputations. The above evidence suggests that the same may be true for otherwise well-meaning corporate ethics initiatives.

The UNGC did not respond to Byline Times’ request for comment.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BYLINE INTELLIGENCE TEAM

ShareEmailTwitterFacebook

SIGN-UP TO EMAIL UPDATES

OUR JOURNALISM RELIES ON YOU

Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT EDITION OF BYLINE TIMES FROM AS LITTLE AS £3.50 A MONTH

LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

BECOME A PATRON OF BYLINE TV

SUBSCRIBE TO BYLINE TIMES & GET THIS MONTH’S DIGITAL EDITION IMMEDIATELY

Is HM Revenue & Customs turning the payment of tax into a voluntary activity for some?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/03/2022 - 9:43pm in

AccountingWEB has a chilling article out this week by tax commentator Philip Fisher. As he notes:

In November 2021, the National Audit Office (NAO) issued the first salvo entitled Managing tax debt through the pandemic. Last week, using and updating some of the data from that report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) followed suit with its 48th report on HMRC’s management of tax debt.

Both are chilling in their conclusions that our taxing authority is failing to follow up debts in far too many cases. Indeed, during the early months of the pandemic, tax collection ground to an almost complete standstill, relying on those with tax liabilities to do the decent thing. In very many cases, they couldn’t or didn’t.

As he adds:

Pre-pandemic, HMRC was owed £16bn; that sounds like a terrifying amount, until you discover that the figure now stands at £39bn, having peaked at £67bn in August 2020. The number of taxpayers in debt had risen from 3.8 million to 6.2 million by September 2021 and the average duration of repayment is 14 months.

To put this in context, that is 20% of all taxpayers now, apparently, being in debt. To put that another way, that's all self-employed people and half of all tax-paying companies.

The average debt is £6,290, which is very high and must mean that there are some very big debtors out there.

The worry I have is a simple one. If the Public Accounts Committee are right - and they usually are - then what is happening is that HMRC is turning the payment of tax by those who do not have it deducted at source from their pay into a voluntary activity by those who wish to be compliant, leaving the rest to pick up the bill if others choose not to pay.

This matters. It means that the macroeconomy is destabilised.

The failure to collect tax owing means that inflation is permitted (and this may be an issue right now).

Non-payment of tax undermines the delivery of social, economic and fiscal policy.

It also provides an unfair subsidy to the businesses not paying.

And it fuels the deficit, which matters when we have a government looking for any reason to impose austerity through spending cuts.

And then I note the last point, and wonder whether this is simply deliberate policy by the government? Do they simply not care about operating a proper tax system? Is that really possible now? Given their failure, the possibility has to be considered. Why else are they so bad at collecting debt owing?

When will it be admitted that Brexit has failed?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/03/2022 - 5:41pm in

The FT reports this morning that:

Downing Street is exploring yet another delay to post-Brexit border checks on goods entering Britain from the EU to prevent what industry has warned would be a supply chain disaster.

There is just one obvious question to ask, which is when will it be admitted that Brexit has failed because it has proved impossible to deliver it?

We currently effectively run an open border policy in Great Britain where the law is not upheld, taxation is voluntary and smuggling is no doubt rife. And as a result of course we need a border in the Irish Sea to protect the Single Market which we are not respecting.

When can this fiasco end?

Sunak is withholding billions from those in need on the basis of accounting that he knows to be dubious. As evidence of immoral conduct goes, this is pretty staggering

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/03/2022 - 5:37pm in

I posted this Twitter thread yesterday. As it was actually written on Twitter I do not have a text version to share:

The OBR forecast for inflation I refer to is here:

And this is their forecast of interest costs, on the right:

As is apparent, they know that the current claimed cost is a spike that will reverse when the ridiculous accounting assumptions used to underpin it are reversed - as they say they will be.

So why is Sunak using this as an excuse to withhold billions from those facing poverty? It can only be deliberate. And that is unforgivable because even if he had to include the figure in the accounts he could also ignore it - simply dismissing it as the accounting stupidity it is. But he is not. He's using it to punish people instead.

Johnson should be resigning today. If he doesn’t he’s saying he’ll hang on to power, whatever his rightful claim to it

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 29/03/2022 - 5:17pm in

As the Guardian notes this morning:

The first fines for lockdown breaches in Downing Street are expected to be issued imminently after Scotland Yard concluded that laws were broken at the heart of government, sources have told the Guardian.

They added:

Multiple government insiders said the Metropolitan police had made referrals for the first tranche of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) connected with parties and gatherings being investigated by police in No 10 and the Cabinet Office. It is understood the Met are expected to issue around 20 fines related to the most straightforward cases, though more are expected to follow.

So, there were parties at Number 10.

And they did break the law.

Boris Johnson denied both things to parliament.

He lied.

That's a resigning offence, whether he gets a fine, or not.

Throughout the last century or more any prime minister would have resigned in this situation. Will Johnson? I doubt it. And that's because this government has no commitment to democracy, at all. All that matters to them is power.

The parallels with Trump's fascism become more apparent by the day.

Pages