Lord Ashcroft would probably like going to visit one of his companies in the Caribbean right about now, and staying for a little while. At least long enough for this big, looming tax wrongdoing accusation cloud has time to blow over. He is accused of a financial manoeuver enabling him to avoid paying 3.4 million pounds in tax.
Lord Ashcroft, outgoing deputy conservative party chairman, appears to have dodged a financial bullet, for now. The day before he would have to pay 3.4 million pounds in taxes from earnings by his company, the Impellam Group, he transferred ownership to a trust to benefit his children. The following day, law came into force requiring all members of the Lord and Commons to register in the UK, and pay taxes on any, and all worldwide income. Even though his tax status is what primarily prompted the law to come into existence, his lawyers have already told the BBC: “Our client has denied any impropriety or wrongdoing in respect of any of the matters that you have raised.”
Richard Frimston, tax lawyer, had a discussion with the BBC regarding the details of the Ashcroft predicament, saying: “If that had been done on the following day, assets worth say £17m going into trust would have been subject to tax at 20%, which would have created an immediate inheritance tax charge of something in the region of £3.4m. So that was avoided by doing it on 5 April as opposed to waiting until 6 April.”
In March of this year, Ashcroft said he supported the new law, which was set to be in force on April 6. (It was April 5 when he transferred ownership of his company). He also mentioned to a BBC interviewer in May that he was going to become a “fully taxed person in Britain”.
Ashcroft is also being investigated by British detectives for loans he gave to two senior politicians by his own bank. The investigation involves possible corruption in the Turks and Caicos islands.