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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama