Is Smythson based in a tax haven?
Awkward! Luxury leather goods firm Smythson where PM's wife Samantha Cameron works is based in a tax haven.Crivens! A tax avoider at the heart of Downing Street!
So there must have been an awkward conversation over the Number 10 breakfast table this morning after it emerged the Prime Minister's wife Samantha works for a company which is now based in a tax haven. Luxury leather goods firm Smythson, where Mrs Cameron is a creative consultant, is owned through a holding company in Luxembourg and linked to a secretive trust in the Channel Island of Guernsey, another well-known tax havenThe meat in this sandwich is down at the bottom of the page:
Smythson is owned and run by secretive Egypt-born Frenchman Jacques Bahbout, who bought the group for £18m in 2009 through his Italian handbag manufacturer Tivoli Group... Details in the firm’s annual accounts filed at Companies House show Holdsmyth is owned by ‘a company incorporated in Luxembourg’ and is ultimately controlled by ‘Ogier Trustee (Jersey) Ltd as trustees of the Barracuda Trust, a trust settled in Guernsey’
As a bonus, exactly the same story appeared in the Mirror more than a year ago.
Is there anything to this story? Not really. The Smythson brand and stores are owned by Holdsmyth, a UK-registered company with its registered office in Bond Street. So, the headline's not true - Smythson is based in London, which is only a tax haven if you believe Nick Shaxson. Any profits made by Holdsmyth will, obviously, be liable to corporation tax here. Holdsmyth itself is owned by a Luxembourg company (Greenwill SA), which is the Holdco for Tivoli Group SA, the Italian company owned by Bahbout.
All that's happened is that the Mail (and the Mirror this time last year) have read Holdsmyth's accounts and hyperventilated at the mention of foreigners. This one's a #QTWTAIN for John Rentoul's series.