The City Diary: So taxing. Betfair finally moves offshore

Click to follow

Betfair, the FTSE-250 gambling group which has found life as a public company heavy going, announced last week that it will be operating offshore – a move that would have saved the group £18.5m in tax on their gross profits last year.

"In recent months, Betfair has undergone a period of significant restructuring and has now transferred the majority of the key systems for its betting exchange from the UK to Gibraltar and Dublin," the group said. "The company has also opened new offices in both Gibraltar and Dublin, together employing over 120 people".

That's not quite how Ed Wray, the betting group's chairman, explained it in July, when I put it to him that Betfair was planning to leg it offshore.

"That's news to me. It's just not true," Wray replied at the time. "If it is going on, I don't know about it."

Tchenguiz tape gets stuck

An interesting week for the fabulous Tchenguiz boys, the businessmen who moved to Britain from Iran in 1979. They were hauled from their beds at 5.30am on Wednesday by the Serious Fraud Office. Robert was originally taken for questioning to Snow Hill station but, I'm told, was then transferred to Bishopsgate. Why the switch? Investigators couldn't get the interrogation room's tape recorder to work.

The MP, the mistress and her cat

As you'll know by now, Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has obtained a secret super-injunction banning the publication of information about him. We only know about this because John Hemming, a back-bench Liberal Democrat MP, asked about it during a business debate in the House of Commons and his comments are protected by parliamentary privilege – meaning he cannot face court proceedings for revealing the injunction's existence.

Whatever you think of Hemming, it is hard to accuse him of being a hypocrite because his private life seems to have been played out almost entirely in public since his 2005 election. He first made headlines after fathering a child with his personal assistant, while his wife appeared in court recently accused of stealing Hemming's mistress's cat.

Snorts of derision

Anthony Alexander, 47, the former manager at Bar 9 – which is near Finsbury Square at the heart of the Square Mile – has pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying cocaine beside his no doubt delicious cocktails. He'll now spend three and a half years in prison as a result of an investigation that dates back to last summer, when more than 30 officers raided the bar and arrested four customers for possession. The rozzers' official statement on this reads: "It is an unusual case for the City of London" – which is a view, I suppose. Cocaine in the City? Almost unheard of.

A record that goes on...and on

Can there be a more misrepresented company than Ivanhoe Mines? The raw materials group – which I read has a joint venture with my old Kazakh socialite friend Goga Ashkenazi as well as projects in Mongolia and Oz – feels the need to have a website page dedicated to correcting errors supposedly made in the media about the company. "The Facts...for the record" section extends to 34 lengthy entries.