A kiss goodbye: Sir Richard Branson is off to the Caribbean – but not for tax reasons
Entrepreneur insists he can raise money for charity just as well from his private island
When Sir Richard Branson stood on a collection of man-made islands in the shape of the world off the coast of Dubai in 2006, and planted a British flag in the sand dressed in a flamboyant Union Flag suit, he said: “I stake my claim on England.”
Now it seems Britain’s best-known entrepreneur is quitting the country that has made him his fortune. The flamboyant businessman has moved permanently to the Caribbean island he bought in 1979 where he will continue his extensive charitable and philanthropic work.
Sir Richard’s spokesman confirmed that the entrepreneur had decided to live permanently on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but denied that the decision was related to tax matters.
“He moved there more than seven years ago, but rather than retiring there, he spends 90 per cent of his time starting not-for-profit ventures and raising millions for charity through speeches and other charitable engagements,” the spokesman said.
He added: “Since he gives 100 per cent of any monies he earns from these to charity, it makes no difference for tax purposes whether he is in the UK or the BVI.”
Writing on his personal blog, Sir Richard insisted that he had moved to the Caribbean to help preserve his health: “There is no better place to stay active and I can kitesurf, surf, play tennis, swim, do Pilates and just play.”
However, as a non-resident of the UK, he could save significant tax on income from his Virgin empire, experts said on Sunday.
Critics of Sir Richard jumped on comments he made this year that Britain’s tax system was “reasonable” compared with France’s. Responding to the actor Ray Winstone’s claim that he could see himself leaving Britain because the country was being “raped” by high taxes, Sir Richard was quoted as saying: “I don’t think people should be leaving the UK because of our tax system. In the current economic climate it would be wrong if George Osborne was lowering taxes for the rich.”
A spokesman for UK Uncut, which campaigns against tax avoidance, said: “It would be great if ordinary people on a low wage could take these steps to free themselves from austerity, but they can’t – Branson is an incredibly wealthy man.”
Sir Richard’s empire was born when he set up Virgin Records in 1970 as a mail-order record retailer, and he has gone on to launch ventures in planes, trains, mobile phones and television. He has promised to give half his wealth, £3.5 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List, to charity when he dies.
Sir Richard is far from the first British businessman to court tax controversy. The Topshop billionaire Sir Philip Green has repeatedly been forced to defend his tax record, after his Monaco-based wife was paid a £1.2bn dividend in 2005.
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...
£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...