In an article in the Financial Times published on 13 April, Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber called for wealthy people to bring their assets back onshore.
The article explained that Al Jaber was urging his fellow billionaires to bring their wealth back onshore. Al Jaber wound up his offshore trusts and brought his money onshore some years ago and now holds just a few remaining offshore assets.
Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber said, “For me it makes business sense” to have his assets in the UK, following the unprecedented leak of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which highlighted the widespread use of offshore trusts to house wealth.
“I think a lot of people will follow,” Al Jaber added. “Here [in the UK] you have the power of the state behind you and a guarantee of stable systems, as well as the rule of law and good governance.”
The billionaire founder and chief executive of MBI Group said there was also a compelling strategic reason for his shift. Consolidating assets in London provides a “competitive advantage”, he said. “I think it is cheaper in the long term. My people think it is a saving” he added.
He made it clear that for him it was important to be seen acting within the spirit and letter of the law, especially his track record of activism in the Gulf, where he has frequently called for improved taxation. “I have been demanding a tax regime within the Gulf states for the past 15 years, something my business friends say I am crazy to do. But it is one way to save the state and bring rewards to you and your children. It galvanises against corruption — and is the way to accountability.”
Al Jaber's view was supported by Richard Ross, philanthropist and chairman of the Rosetrees Trust, which funds medical research. “No one likes paying tax but it is a necessary evil,” he said. “It took 30 years for the anti-smoking campaign to become really effective. Surely guidance to lawyers, accountants and bankers should stop those wanting to pay no tax in the foreseeable future.”
One British billionaire, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had never sought to place his assets offshore. “I am of the view if you are lucky enough to be born in Britain then you should pay your taxes in Britain, and it should not be an option,” he said. “Lawmakers need to say that you can’t go to places like Monaco or you can’t do this if you’re born in Britain. End of story.”
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